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“Tradition is just peer pressure from dead people”.

Tradition is just peer pressure from dead people.

I don’t know who first said this – likely none of the people who shared it on facebook, where I saw it – but it’s true nonetheless.

Tradition “is the transmission of customs or beliefs from generation to generation.”

Some of these can be wonderful, beautiful customs and beliefs, ways of living, or events. But not always. And sometimes the things passed on are bad habits, unhealthy ways of living or seeing the world, issues and wounds that no longer make sense or are relevant to you today.

There are many beautiful things about death. One of them is the ability to reinvent, recreate, or discard unwanted, unneeded, unnecessary or unhealthy ‘traditions’. You don’t have to keep doing things the way ‘they’ did them. And indeed there may have been traditions or ideas or beliefs that they passed on to you that it just wasn’t in their power to transform.

We don’t honour those who die by clinging to their ways of doing things when they aren’t a good match for us. We honour them by allowing even their death to add to our lives and the world – and part of this can be the changing, growing, updating, clearing that a family has the choice to do when things are no longer held in place. We are meant to grow and change and evolve. Just because ‘we’ve always done it like that’ or ‘that’s what our culture does’ doesn’t mean it’s the best idea to keep doing it like that.

Annnnd maybe it is. But until you can look at the ideas, beliefs and traditions, and consciously and critically decide which you wish to keep and which you wish to discard or to upgrade, then you’re just on unconscious autopilot.

A wonderful client of mine recently identified that were was a certain unhelpful habit that had been passed on to her by a dear family member. She identified that it actually came, very understandably, from his early experiences and trauma, and that he simply didn’t have the ability to heal or shift this….and now, though she learnt or inherited the same ‘tradition’ from him, she has the power to decide differently and do what he couldn’t do…and heal it. She can honour him, not by continuing the same unconscious behaviour, but by deciding to clear what he couldn’t.

Don’t do things ‘just because’. Be conscious and aware and decide what is best for you now. You don’t have to do Christmas the way it’s always been done. (You don’t have to do it at all if you don’t want to!) You don’t have to stay in contact with certain people if it doesn’t serve you. You don’t have to live in a certain place. You don’t have to have a certain relationship or raise your kids a certain way. You don’t have to speak a certain language or abide by a certain religion. You don’t have to believe everything they believed, do everything they did, love everything they loved.

Honour them, and honour yourself, by changing, by creating, by always questioning what you do and why, and always moving closer to what you truly love (not what you think you’re meant to).