I am so fascinated by the properties of different generations. I’ve already explored how there are now four generations across a workplace and how their defining formative experiences affect their motivators and how they act. One thing that has really intrigued me though is the potential that Gen Z has for intergenerational healing.
Let’s dial this back. What is intergenerational healing? Well, intergenerational healing refers to the process of addressing and healing emotional, psychological, and relational wounds that have been passed down from one generation to another. These wounds can include traumas, patterns of behaviour and unresolved conflicts that were experienced by previous generations and continue to impact individuals and families in the present.
As I’ve said, each generation comes with their own formative experiences which underpin the way they behave. So the concept of intergenerational healing supports the idea that we aren’t really isolated beings, but are deeply connected to families and communities across multiple generations (i.e., there may be systemic racism or misogyny passed down generationally).
By acknowledging and addressing the intergenerational wounds that have been passed down, individuals can break free from destructive patterns and behaviours and create a healthier and more fulfilling life for themselves and future generations. The process of intergenerational healing can involve a range of approaches, including therapy, mindfulness practices, family constellations, and other healing modalities. It often involves exploring family history, identifying patterns of behaviour and thought, and developing new ways of relating to oneself and others.
So why do we think Gen Z are the way forward? Gen Z, including individuals born between 1998 to 2012 are by far the most liberal of all the generations to date. Research has dubbed them as the generation with the potential to create the most progress with intergenerational healing for four main reasons.
- Emphasis on diversity and inclusivity: Gen Z has grown up in a more diverse and inclusive world than previous generations, with greater exposure to different cultures, lifestyles, and perspectives. This exposure has fostered a greater sense of empathy and understanding towards others, which can help to heal intergenerational wounds and bridge divides.
- Focus on mental health: Gen Z has been more vocal about mental health than previous generations, with greater willingness to seek help and to challenge the stigma surrounding mental illness. This openness has helped destigmatise conversations which were sidelined for years, and ultimately helps to break down barriers and promote healing across generations.
- Commitment to social justice: Gen Z has been active in advocating for social justice causes, including racial justice, climate action, and gender equality. This activism reflects a desire to address historical injustices and create a more equitable future, which can help to heal intergenerational wounds. In addition, Gen Z are more willing and able to call out older family members. A viral video surfaced last month of a Gen Z kid calling out his mother for a micro-aggression.
- Technological savviness: Gen Z has grown up in a world where technology is an integral part of daily life, and they are often seen as early adopters of new technologies. This comfort with technology can help to bridge generational gaps and create opportunities for intergenerational learning and healing.
Overall, this unique combination of values, experiences, and skills positions them well to create intergenerational healing. By embracing diversity and inclusivity, promoting mental health, advocating for social justice, and leveraging technology, they can work to heal the wounds of the past and build a more connected, resilient, and equitable future.