Your parents or the people who raised us had a major influence on your adult mindset. People can achieve amazing success by drawing from the great lessons passed between generations like mental heirlooms. That’s the upside. Unfortunately, the downside can be that most people never think to challenge their childhood narrative. Indeed, a surprising number of folks never move beyond fifteen miles of the town in which they were born.
Of course, none of this would be a problem if the people who raised you had the perfect mindset, but that is a fantasy. The law of inertia means your ancestors were probably just following the same pattern as their parents without giving much thought to how their mindset could change. The inertia means they will likely raise their kids too with the same mindset.
Parents aren’t the only ones with influence on a person. A peer network also has plenty to do with shaping one’s mindset. After all, we are social creatures that gravitate to others who share the same opportunities, challenges, complaints and narrative about life as we do. Every so often as we walk through life, we hear whispers and rumors of different ways of living. But we don’t listen because we mistakenly believe change is impossible for us. And so, the generational curse continues to haunt our lives.
I can highlight two major factors that forced me to rewrite my own story.
First, my parents emigrated to the US from Iran when I was a child. This necessitated a major mindset change for my mother and father. They because entrepreneurs, along with many of my extended family. In other words, they became the kinds of people whose mindset is focused on forging a brand-new path each day.
Second, I am disabled and it is rare to find people who share my specific challenges, which means I had no one to model what success could look like for me. That might sound like a disadvantage, but it gave me amazing opportunities to read, attend conferences and immerse myself in the wisdom of personal development. Along the way, I received incredible support from friends, family and peers – with a particular nod to the great teachers and schools I attended as a kid.
My parents’ mindset certainly colored who I am today. While much of this way of looking at the world was healthy, some of the habits I learned feel a bit like a generational curse. Thankfully, that curse can absolutely be broken.
What do I mean by generational curse?
If your great-grandparents grew up during the Great Depression they might have passed down a scarcity mindset to subsequent generations. This kind of generational curse can cause parents to discourage their kids from going after what they really want for fear of “wasting resources.” This attitude might permanently scar how later generations think about money: how to make it, what it’s for and even if they consider money to be evil or good.
On the other hand, notions about success can also be passed down. For instance, do you consider the people in power – managers, politicians or business leaders – to be your enemy or ally? If your parents complained every day after work that their boss “only cares about making money,” then your own adult mindset might mistakenly see people in power as the enemy rather than as allies to help further your goals. That’s a generational curse.
We figure out ways to not repeat our parents’ missteps. It is unhealthy to blame everything in your life on the system or some amorphous “class conflict.” Perhaps your parents’ narrative about the struggles of life has a modicum of truth. But I’ve learned that just because something is technically true doesn’t mean it should shape your life narrative. If I let my disability weigh me down – even though it technically makes some activities nearly impossible – I could never move forward. Instead, my mindset allows me to recognize, understand and then work around my disability so I can be successful.
Rewrite any parts of your narrative that hold you back from success. Find a way to adopt the right story for your goals in life. Read helpful books, gather insightful articles and search for the people who have already achieved what you want. Above all, don’t fall into the trap of seeing successful people as enemies. Choose instead to look at them as allies. Your future self will thank you.
Your family’s generational story does not have to be your story. Hold onto the great lessons but don’t be shy about rewriting any parts of your life’s narrative that need changing. You are the only one who can break the generational curse, and it starts today.