With all the talk of legacy work and leaving a (powerful) legacy—what may actually be the most important piece is your relational legacy. We all leave a relational legacy, whether we intend to or not. In every moment of relating, we create impact or legacy. None of us gets out of life without having left some version of one.
Although we often talk about how we want to teach our children how to have healthy relationships or to model healthy relating for them, our relational legacy is more than that. It’s how we relate to each other moment to moment. It’s alive and it goes far beyond just our children.
It may seem like a lot of pressure that we’re leaving a relational legacy in every moment. Naturally, there’s a strong desire to “get it right.” If we bring it to the energetic level, then the I-have-to-get-it-right-ness evaporates, and the work simply becomes understanding the dynamic we want to create between us and another person and the field of energy we want to leave in the world.
Sometimes we don’t do something or say something because we think it’s mean, and we want to be nice, but in not saying that thing, we contract or armor our heart. Then, the relational legacy that gets created is actually one of constriction, not love or freedom. Sometimes saying “no” or “I don’t like that” actually sends more love into the world than a constricted thought of ”I won’t say anything because I want to be nice.”
I have a really hard time remembering people’s names, and I used to be really embarrassed about it and pretend like I remembered instead of being honest. These days I am much more likely to smile and say, “Hey, remind me of your name again . . . ?”
In those moments, I believe I’ve actually left a relational legacy or more openness and authenticity than pretending because I was trying to be polite.
Then, there are the longer relationships we have: with our children, our partners, the parents of our children, and our friends. In these cases, relational legacy is less about trying to do everything right to be the perfect mother in the hopes of leaving a legacy of a happy and perfect childhood and more about being willing to tell the truth and say “I’m sorry,” and leaving a relational legacy with my children of openness and that’s filled with love (including for me, too!).
So, take a moment and think: What do you want your relational legacy to be?
I want to leave a legacy of love, generosity, and curiosity. Having this lens to look through allows me to pay attention to more than just my words, or my actions, but even deeper into the energetic field of my being and check: Is this way of being creating more generosity? Is my breath creating more love? Are my eyes inviting more curiosity into the world?
We all have baggage, and part of my belief is that we probably won’t clear out all our baggage in one lifetime. Relational legacy is less about making sure you are relating perfectly in every moment, and more about the energy beneath your relating: Are you leaving a Legacy of honesty? Of open-heartedness? Of curiosity? Even, perhaps, in the midst of messing up, or making mistakes, or saying something you regret.
Once you figure out what you want your relational legacy to be, it becomes the lens through which you pass your decision-making, behavior, actions, and response through.
If we don’t ask our ourselves what the relational legacy is that we want to leave, then we’re more likely to leave an unconscious one. If we don’t have the ability to name it, or even to take honest feedback about our intent versus the impact, then we’ll never know what it was.
So, what is the relational legacy you want to leave?
A version of this post was originally posted on KendraCunov.com and is republished here with permission from the author.
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