Cracking the Inherited Traits

I got more from my grandmother than just the name Ruth. I got her fascination for words, her penchant for making everything she owned last as long as possible, and her love for assembling jigsaw puzzles. I also got her hangup of nagging regret.

Nana could not let her mistakes go. Even at age 90, she would fret about the day she weaseled out of her childhood chores to go visit a favorite Aunt, leaving her tired mother to do all the work. Once or twice she called me, after I got back home from visiting her for the day, to apologize for something she said or didn’t say. I had not even noticed the infraction. I had to be patient with her to keep from getting annoyed.

Yet here I am, doing the same damn thing. I toss around in bed some nights, unable to get the mistakes out of my mind. I worry if I ordered the right color for our new recliner, fret about the installation of new fence, and stress over the fact that I did not properly introduce someone at a business networking event. I have the ability to drive to myself crazy. I can accept other people’s mistakes with ease and compassion, but not my own.

And just like I, Nana was often good at making herself look foolish. She was strong, intelligent and graceful, but she would worry so much about making other people comfortable she couldn’t relax and be her wonderful self.

We get our traits from our ancestors, no doubt. Too bad we can’t pick the good ones and leave behind the bad ones. The whole bundle is what makes us who we are, and I suppose there’s no sense in making the mistake of losing sleep over it.

Do you have traits you wish you DIDN’T inherit? Have you been able to move past them? How?

[photo: Sitting and watching the ocean waves — a great way to relax and reflect.]