I recently surveyed my blog readers to get their thoughts on a few topics. One items asked what question readers would ask me if we had the chance to sit down and talk openly and freely. One of the more interesting (and brave) questions I got was from my sister who wanted to know if a history of infidelity in our family history led me to have a similar history in my first marriage.

My husband's reaction? He nearly peed himself laughing. My sister, meanwhile, was in knots over whether she offended me with her audacious query. My reaction?

Great question! And one I have often pondered.

My short answer is, "I'm not sure, but it sure looks like a karmic rollout to me."

I have a multigenerational line of marital unfaithfulness (not unlike a few, possibly many, of you, I might imagine), with tragic consequences in at least one instance. And, yes, I followed suit in my first marriage. Was that the result of karma or was I simply subtly socialized to think that behavior was okay?

Do questions like this diminish my responsibility for my actions or do they shed light on them?

Taking note of the family history of issues you find yourself struggling with does change your relationship with them. Yes, you could, if so inclined, simply poiint your finger and blame your parents, ancestors, or the Fates for your struggles. I hope you don't.

If you sincerely want to get a handle on your life where dysfunctional family patterns are concerned, you certainly can start by reflecting and acknowledging that you may well have been under the influence of powerful energies that tipped the balance in favor of you acting out this family pattern. It is possible the nature of the energies was such that you may not have even have realized they were working on you. (In my case, some of the family line were deceased before I was born, but I still was impacted by their stories.)

Once you've considered all this, remember:

Feeling yourself to be under the influence of "family karma" does NOT relieve you of responsbility for your actions.

In fact, it raises the level of importance that you DO take responsibility. How much of this weight is the next generation supposed to carry, after all? It doesn't matter if you have kids or not. Family energy can ripple in all kinds of directions. It would be naive and irresponsible for me to believe any negative pattern of behaviour on my part would have no effect on my nieces and nephews. They look up to me and I care about them.

You don't decide if you are a role model, the ones looking at you decide that.

Action you can take:

In your journal, write the chronology of this issue you are facing (infidelity, addiction, early loss of a loved one, etc) as you are aware of it in your family. Do this as objectively as you can, steering clear of blame and bitterness. Who knows where the first sin occured? (Okay, Adam and Eve, we'll blame them.) You are simply tracing a thread in order to understand it. Is it a thick or thin thread? Long or short? Who tried to resist its pull and succeeded? Who tried and failed? Who gave in? How did the thread change as a result of how people responded to it? Did it get stronger or start to fray?

Your relationship is with the thread. Take everyone else out of the picture right now.

What do you want to do with the thread now that it is running through your life, as well?

If you are sincere in wanting to break the thread:

What kind of help will you need to do so? In what way is the thread seducing you? What does it represent? What pain comes with resisting it? Who do you need to recruit to help you?

All that insight is great. Now, when will you begin?

Author's Bio: 

Laura Young, M.A. is a personal development coach specializing in helping individuals restructure their lives after significant loss or transition.

With 25 years in personal development and doctoral training in counseling psychology, Laura has written extensively on such topics as relationships, love, loss, marriage, communication, intimacy, friendship and how to cope with life changes. Please visit her blog and website to tap in to her extensive resource base.