What is the impact of the family of origin on your relationships?

By Susanne Hazen and Josianne Zwart (Hey Joos! Virtual assistant & projectmanager)
Photo: tyler-nix-V3dHmb1MOXM-unsplash.jpeg

In previous blogs, I described situations in current relationships and from previous relationships that impact your current relationship. Today I will discuss the last part: what happened in the family of origin that affects the current situation?

Intergenerational trauma
Intergenerational trauma is a concept developed to help explain long-standing destructive patterns within families. It means the transfer or the transmission to younger generations of oppressive or traumatic effects of a historical event that took place with ancestors. This involves loyalty to and identifications and entanglements with people in the generations before you. I speak of ‘family karma’.
Read more about that on this page.


Commitment is an essential part in relationships. Commitment is connected to the energy we give to something or someone or a certain value. Think of an important family value. For example, the value of freedom may be more important than the commitment to a partner.

You often see this with women from strict cultural backgrounds where women have to be submissive to men for many generations. Their mantra now is: “I won’t end up like this”. This value can be more important than the relationship with a man.

In every relationship, a piece of freedom is ‘given up’, but that is unacceptable in the example above. In this case, there is a commitment with all ancestral women who did not know freedom.

If a person shows no commitment to the partner, then his/her commitment is to something or someone else. And this has an impact on your relationship.

Intergenerational socio-cultural traumas
In addition to the impact of situations from our personal lives and from the lives of our parents and ancestors, socio-cultural historical traumas also impact relationships.

Such traumas include war, famine, immigration, slavery, genocide, colonialism, political unrest, disasters, economic collapse and radiation.

The impact of these events creates the dynamics of our relationships. We carry the past in our bodies in the present. These forces guide our choices until we are aware of them. Each country has its own history and, therefore, a different dynamic that can play a role in relationships.

It is sometimes said in shamanistic cultures that up to and including the 7th generation descendants still deal with the entanglements of ancestors. And this concerns traumas from the personal lives of those ancestors. When it comes to sociological, cultural, religious or political trauma, the impact can last for centuries.

Healing intergenerational traumas is the essence of the Family Constellations and Systemic Ritual method. In a constellation, you look for the cause of the problem. You look for people in previous generations who had every reason to be sad, anxious, angry, etc. In this way, you ‘expose’ the cause of the problem. You restore it through ritual phrases and/or actions and/or adding other ancestors who can help.

Tip: The other self – Netflix series
To find out more about this in a visual and compelling way, I recommend the Netflix series The Other Self: This Turkish series follows three women and their partners. The reason for the journey they make is the diagnosis of a serious illness with one of them. During the journey, they are introduced to family constellations. They are confronted with unresolved trauma from their family history, including murder, secrets, migrations and forbidden loves. Through systemic constellation work, it becomes clear how their family histories have influenced their lives. The series shows (with the right dose of drama and romance) how constellations can support you in finding yourself. Watch the series here.


Published by Susanne Hazen

Drs. Susanne Hazen is in 1988 afgestudeerd aan de Rijksuniversiteit Utrecht in Psychologie . Na deze opleiding is ze gaan werken in het welzijnswerk. In 2001 is ze eveneens afgestudeerd aan de toenmalige Academie voor Natuurgeneeskunde Hilversum. In 2002 is ze gestart met haar eigen praktijk. Ze doceert sinds 2002 Psychologie / Therapeutische Vorming aan de diverse opleidingen in CAM (Complementary and Alternative Medicine). In de jaren 2004 en 2005 volgde ze de opleiding Familieopstellingen bij Harrie de Kruijff en ontving in juni 2005 het diploma. Sinds 2003 verdiept ze zich in het Sjamanistisch werk en heeft diverse trainingen gevolgd bij Daan van Kampenhout in Nederland en Zwitserland. In 2011 heeft ze de tweejarige training “Systemic Ritual®” afgerond. Wenst u meer informatie – zie haar profiel op LinkedIn.

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