Genetic Connections

beautiful lake and mountain scene
Connecting with Nature
September 22, 2021
depicts a family of origin
Family of Origin
October 6, 2021

Genetic Connections

Depicts strand of DNA

This post is part of a series exploring how our various relationships affect our resilience. Check out other posts in the series: Resilience in Relationship, Connecting to Our Past Selves, Casual Connections, and Connecting with Nature.

You may know very little or a whole lot about your genetic relatives.  One thing you do know – they were resilient.  They made it through long enough to have you.  Humans, as a species, are super resilient.  Our bodies, brains and communities adapt to the times and conditions that we live in at every stage of life.  How can you connect to the resilience that is part of your genetic code? 

Consider what you know about your family: what have your genetic relatives been through?  Human history is full of tragedy and struggle.  It is also full of perseverance, triumph and overcoming.  We each inherit a set of DNA that has resilience built in.  It has been shaped by epigenetics, the process by which certain genes are turned on or off based on your relatives’ life experiences.   

Some of your genetic inheritance is what it is.  I have brown hair that is greying relatively early.  I can color it but that doesn’t change the underlying reality.  There are some genetic traits that are unchangeable.  Most though is a tendency.  Anxiety runs in my family tree.  We don’t all have it, and we certainly don’t have it to the same degree.  With awareness we can manage this aspect of our personality.   

Traits that we see as a negative have been helpful at some time.    How might the tendency to be anxious help?  My paternal grandparents served on the front lines as medical staff during WWI.  Did either of them have this trait?  If they did – I wonder if anxiety helped them be observant and stay out of harm’s way?  My maternal grandfather was an immigrant.  Did he have this trait?  Did he worry about life and make changes to address his concerns?   

(I am talking here about anxiety that has not reached the level of clinical diagnosis. My goal here to explore personality traits, not to address diagnosis that impair our ability to function.) 

As a species we all belong to the same distant family tree.  Tribal people who were not content to stay put.  Scientists put our origin in East Africa.  Humans are so resilient that we now live everywhere on the planet, in all possible climate zones and in a myriad of social arrangements.  A handful live off-planet in the international space station.  How did your relatives adapt to changing times and conditions?  Consider how you have used your inherent abilities to adapt to changes in your life. How can you harness these abilities to face the challenges of today? 

Stay connected! 

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Laura A. Gaines