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There is no doubt that what we inherit from our parents, grandparents and more distant relatives has an impact on our makeup as a person. Hair colour, height and other physical characteristics can all often be recognised in the family photo album as having their source some generations back. It is also true that certain difficulties - both physical and mental - can be passed down from our ancestors.

Some types of cancer, depression and some psychotic disorders can be attributed, at least in part, to those that came before us (see Cancer Research UK and NHS News).  There is evidence to suggest a link between a condition rearing its head in years gone by, and then the recurrence of that condition in a branch further down the family tree. It would seem, then, that the hand we are dealt in terms of our wellbeing is, in part, determined before we even know there is a game to be played.

If our allocation is to some extent decided in advance then, what hope is there of successfully tackling mental and physical conditions passed down from others? I would suggest that although the cards in our hand are important, how we play them is of far greater significance. Research suggests that diet, lifestyle and attitude are crucial when it comes to determining the ultimate outcome of some of the undesirable legacies we face (see NHS Choices and Psychology Today). Coming to terms with what is on our plate, be it of our choosing or not, is important in learning to move forward and to make the best life possible for ourselves and those we care about.

Sometimes clients attend therapy looking to change a certain aspect of their lives, yet sometimes the facts of their particular situation are quite set.  In such an instance, learning to reassess and take a different stance - to accept the unchangeable rather than to break our head against it - can be a good use of the time spent in the counselling relationship.

So, although it has been suggested that the key to mental wellbeing and physical robustness is to 'choose your grandparents well', perhaps looking for meaning in adversity and positivity in a seemingly dark situation will be what we can influence, and may well improve our everyday lives.

What do you have to lose by adapting your viewpoint?

Rob Oglesby MBACP (Accred) B.A. (Hons) BSc | Ashwood Therapy

Ashwood Therapy provides a discreet, confidential and professional online counselling service by encrypted video call, live instant messaging and secure email.  More details, including tips on wellbeing and information on current counselling session pricing, can be found at www.ashwoodtherapy.com

Choose Your Grandparents Well

Choose Your Grandparents Well | Ashwood Therapy Wellbeing Blog