To benefit via reading from the knowledge gained through
research and therapy.
To understand the influence of your family and your childhood
on your current life by reading and doing an autobiography.
To use a journal to detect changes and connections that might
otherwise go unnoticed, e.g. improvements, backsliding, events
or thoughts that bring on problems, payoffs following certain
To get in touch with internal forces that influence many aspects
of your life.
STEP ONE: Write your autobiography. Decide what psychological
mysteries youd like to solve and what self-improvements youd like
Many people say, "My life is dull. I'm just ordinary." But I've
listened to thousands of life histories and I've never heard an
uninteresting life if the person is willing to honestly share his/her soul-
-the details and depth, the joy and the pain, of the self. A Gestalt
therapist, Erving Polster (1987), has written a book, Every Person's
Life is Worth a Novel. It says you are interesting; please believe it.
Reading this book or autobiographies should inspire you to write your
own story. Not only would writing an autobiography be a therapeutic
experience for you, it would also be fascinating and helpful to your
children and grandchildren. Indeed, a question and answer outline for
just such a book is published by Kamen (1987) called, A Grandparents'
Book: Thoughts, Memories, and Hopes For a Grandchild. What a
wonderful idea. However, keep in mind that writing your history for
others, is a very different process from writing privately for self-
understanding and self-improvement. It is the latter we will focus on.
I can not emphasize too much the importance of knowing the
psychological background of your grandparents--what was their
childhood like? How were they treated by their parents? What were
their hopes and aspirations, successes and failures? How did your
mother/father get along with their siblings and what roles did they
play--hero, scapegoat, lost child, victim...? Were there abuse or
deaths or traumas in their histories? Under what circumstances were
you born? How did you get along with your siblings and what role did
you play? (See Blevins, 1993.) What kind of relationship did your
parents have? Remember that building trust is an important aspect of
coping psychologically. To trust and feel secure we must be saved
many times when we are small. If we experience serious psychic
traumas, we may become unglued, e.g. we may repress or forget the
experience or believe similar burdens are our role in life or seek futilely
to repeat the trauma over and over in hopes we can work it out with a
wonderful ending. Bradshaw (1994) will take you deeply into the
psychological morass of your family history, especially the