Legacy Burdens is an IFS (Internal Family Systems) concept.
Legacy Burdens (or Intergenerational Trauma) speaks to the things we have inherited and carry from our parents/grandparents/ancestors that result in personal hardship or suffering.
The positive qualities, thoughts, beliefs, etc. that we acquire are called “heirlooms.” These are qualities such as having resiliency or perhaps a strong work ethic. They are the qualities inherited that bring positivity or more value in our lives.
Legacy Burdens, on the other hand, are exactly that- Burdens. Parts of ourselves take on roles that get passed down through the generations.
Example: I think of certain clients of mine who have had grandparents live through a Genocide. Although my clients weren’t physically there, the Legacy Burden of “the world is a dangerous place” and the anxiety one carries somatically is definitely present.
Example: If your father excessively pressured you to work hard and made you feel “not good enough,” you may develop an Inner Critic that does the same thing. It has taken on this legacy from your father. A Legacy burden may not only come from a parent, but from an entire ancestral line. If your father criticized you about working hard, maybe his father did the same to him, and perhaps his father’s father and the entire line of male ancestors were burdened by this extreme need to overwork.
Other examples of Legacy Burdens include:
• “I have to be a great success”
• “True love doesn’t exist”
• “I won’t have enough”
• “I have to protect my family’s secrets”
IFS (parts work) can help you get to know the parts of yourself that are carrying these Legacy Burdens. When we start to unburden these parts from these beliefs that don’t belong to them, healing can take place. Perhaps a certain belief helped your ancestors survive at one point, but those beliefs may no longer be relevant today.