Each of us is a piece of a larger puzzle. We are all born into the unique and complex network of individuals, settings, and circumstances that constitute our heritage. Whether or not you are aware of your ancestors, you family’s country of origin, the cultural history of your people, or the trials faced by the people responsible for bringing you into the world, these forces have had a hand in shaping your values. Knowing your family history and reflecting often upon your own personal history as it relates to your heritage empowers you to look at your life in a larger historical context and to understand that you are a vital part of an ongoing drama greater than yourself.
Researching your heritage can prepare you to meet the future. The traits of your ancestors can give you insight into how your character has developed and the beliefs that form the foundation of your worldview. The knowledge you gain can help you appreciate your values and your character, giving you the confidence to be more expressive where both are concerned. At a cellular level, you carry a genetic code from your family determining things like how you age, your blood type, and personality traits. But as a spiritual being you bring in what you chose to do with that genetic coding, your free will. Unearthing your heritage is not simply about uncovering who did what when or reconnecting with long-lost relatives. Rather, it is a method of building self-awareness and bridging the gulf that divides your past from your future.
In researching our individual histories, however, we may encounter relatives who made interesting choices or were involved in traumatic events. It’s easy to overestimate the importance of these pieces of our past and to cling to them. Balance is key. While your heritage has influenced the development of the person you are today, you are more than an ethnicity, a culture, or a family name. You should not feel driven to alter your likes and dislikes, dreams, preferences, or values because you feel your heritage demands it. Knowing your history is about loving who you are, understanding where you’ve come from, and preparing for your future.