Uprooting Limiting Generational Beliefs

By Olivia Alexis. Photography By Deun Ivory.

In my experience, there’s often this underlying theme of indebtedness to our parents in the black community. And it’s one of the heaviest burdens many of us now find ourselves carrying - through no intentional malice on our parents’ part, but through their beliefs about what it means to be the vessels through which a new being enters the world.

While most of our parents mean us no harm, many of us are brought up with the idea that we are indebted to them for bringing us into the world (they may not outrightly see this or admit this, but the belief is there). And when some of us reach a point in adulthood when we begin to explore what it means to be true to ourselves, this deep-rooted belief comes to surface and causes havoc in our healing process. Especially when this belief is still deeply ingrained in our parents.

You see, contrary to what we may have been taught, we don’t ‘owe’ anybody anything - including our parents. We have the right to live our lives as we please, regardless of whether they agree with it or not. It may sound tough, but this is an understanding that many of us could benefit from getting to grips with. We’re here to contribute towards the evolution and healing of this world - including the evolution of our parents. I believe that our children should be taught individuality and to operate with love. That does not mean succumbing to another person’s idea of what their lives should look like, but rather, treating each other with compassion and owning (not projecting onto others) their own feelings, fears, doubts and beliefs.

One of the greatest contributions we can make to the world is raising humans who feel free to unapologetically be themselves and are not limited by our own unhealed areas. And how do we do this? By healing ourselves. This means we heal the generations that come after us, and the ones that come after them, and so on. This, however, is not limited to those who have children - when we deal with unhealed areas of ourselves and pursue our authentic, truest selves, we inadvertently give whoever we encounter permission to do the same. It’s important to understand that to truly love and support another is to allow them to flourish without clouding them with our versions of what life should look like. Imagine what the world would look like filled with individuals who felt… free.

We often face challenges during our healing process due to having to navigate our way through spaces filled with projections of the fear-based beliefs of others. Our parents can present extra challenges, especially when trying to maintain a relationship with them whilst exercising boundaries.

As tough as it may be at times, there are a few things you can do to keep yourself grounded throughout it all:

1. Be clear on your reasoning.

Yes, nobody owes anyone anything. And you certainly don’t owe anybody any explanations. But it’s worth reminding yourself of the reasons behind the steps you’re taking, especially when you’re faced with feelings such as guilt. Remind yourself that any actions taken based on the fear of disapproval or not being accepted, are not in alignment with your truth. So, stay grounded by continuously reminding yourself of your ‘why’.

2. Surround yourself with those who are pursuing their authentic selves, too.

In my experience, people who are intentional about planting themselves in their truth are some of the most open-minded people out there. They know the importance of owning their trauma and take responsibility for their healing.

Find safe spaces. Find your people. They’re out there. At times this may look like distancing yourself from those you feel stifled around. And that’s okay. It’s necessary.

3. Allow your parents, and anyone else around you, to feel however they’re going to feel, and understand that their pain and hurt is not yours.

Every individual has their own set of beliefs, traumas, and areas to heal. Although you may not like how someone feels as a result of you honouring your truth, you cannot take away their right to feel and to heal as they see fit.

This can be one of the toughest things to swallow. And it’s often the thing that pulls a lot of us back into a place of not following our hearts and our intuition. We don’t like the idea of being the cause of someone’s hurt. However, understand that how someone feels about you doing you has everything to do with their internal state, not yours.

Remember that although your actions may be deemed as selfish by those who don’t quite understand your journey, pursuing the truest and purest version of yourself is one of the most selfless things you can do not only for your loved ones, but for the world.

4. Let go of resentment

This is so important. Certain realizations can cause feelings of anger and resentment. But it’s crucial you let these feelings go. When it comes to our parents, they only operate from the level they’re currently on in their own journeys and do the best that they know how to do. Even if this has not necessarily served us well, it’s our own responsibility to heal and re-write our own stories. Forgive and let go. It will set you free.

Throughout your journey to becoming who you truly are, you may find that the more you elevate, the more resistance you encounter from those around you. But as you move through the work, find solace in the fact that you’re not only lifting your own burdens, but the burdens of those coming after you.


Olivia Alexis is a copywriter and an advocate of self-development, wellness and healing. Founder of Writers Who Heal, Olivia is passionate about using writing as a form of healing and creates safe spaces, through her community, for women to heal using the written word. You can find Olivia and her Writers Who Heal community on Instagram @theoliviaalexis & @writerswhoheal, Facebook @oliviaalexisblog & @writerswhoheal and at oliviaalexis.com.