How is my past related to my present?

The late Frederick S. Perls, Ralph E. Hefferline, and Paul Goodman, in a book titled., Gestalt Therapy [1], has suggested that a future orientation keeps us living for a future which never occurs and keeps us out of step with the actuality-actual living for the moment. Is there really a past and a future? [ See hyperlink: Fred Alan Wolf What you are thinking now may be about the past, or an anticipation of a future, but really is it not happening in the thought process now?

When we share it is preferable to tie what appears to have been past into the present moment. Take some time and interview some of your ancestors. See if you can than share, i.e., self-disclose with us how this information is related to our understanding your present behavior, thoughts, feelings and reactions.

My Ancestral Tree


When one uses self-disclosure it is important to remember some of the cautions.  You must want to build a relationship with the person and  make sure that your self-disclosure is reciprocated.

 You should take into account whether the person can cope with the information you self-disclose and use it as part of an ongoing relationship.[2]


Interview and find out as much information as you can about your ancestral tree. Share in what you found out and how that is related to others understanding of you today. [3]

Remember the most self revealing information is information which tells us about you in the present time.

If you can not interview your grandparents, etc., then look up the genealogy of your family. What cultural, social, and personal characteristics might you share from your which can help us better understand you today?   What have learned most about yourself from this assignment?

[1] Frederick Perls, Ralph Hefferline and  Paul F. Goodman, Paul, Gestalt Therapy,  New York: Dell Publishing Co., Inc.,1951, p.32 
[2] David W. Johnson
Reaching Out: Interpersonal Effectiveness and Self-Actualization, 8th ed., Boston: Allyn and Bacon 2003, p.50 
[3] Ibid.,p.68

Copyright 1998  [Robert Brehm]. All rights reserved.