Do you know that the most sacred work you can do is choose to heal your generational trauma? Some people refer to generational trauma as generational curses which I disagree with. When you refer to your family’s history of trauma as a curse, you are essentially labeling it as irredeemable – something you have no control over because it’s beyond your ability to heal it.

Healing your generational trauma is possible and 100% doable. It’s a lot of inner healing work which makes it such a brave and liberating choice. If you’ve attempted to be the cycle breaker in your family, I applaud you for your effort to understand the patterns in your family so that you can stop them. Your children and generations after them will be healthier and happier people because you chose to pass them healing over pain.

 What is Generational Trauma?

Trauma is the emotional consequence of distressing life events like death, physical and sexual assault, natural disasters, witnessing violent events, accidents, abandonment, chronic illness, oppression and mistreatment, infidelity, injury, infertility, hospitalization, etc. These events can alter someone’s mental and emotional stability and their ability to cope normally. For example; Witnessing violence would elicit feelings of anxiety, hyper-vigilance, and stress.

When the first generation in a family experiences trauma but doesn’t heal it, they are likely to pass it down to the next generation and the cycle continues through subsequent generations. Generational trauma happens because our bodies store trauma and it becomes encrypted as part of our genes which are responsible for our beliefs, behavior, and personality.

Life scenarios: After the 9/11 bombing, some pregnant mothers developed post-traumatic stress disorder. The children they gave birth to were sensitive to loud noises and people they didn’t know. 30% of children with parents who served in the military in Iraq or Afghanistan demonstrate signs of PTSD – just like their parents. One study shows that children whose mothers were anxious during pregnancy developed doubled emotional and behavioral problems by the time they were 10 years old.

 

What Generational Trauma Looks Like

You may have noticed some toxic cycles in your family which can be attributed to generational trauma. For example, if your parents were verbally abusive, they might have learned that from their parents who may have also been treated the same way by their parents who are your great grandparents. It’s a toxic cycle that never stops but I want you to keep in mind that these negative patterns didn’t start with you but they can end with you.

 

Families carrying trauma will:

  • Bury shameful or painful family histories.
  • Lack boundaries or disrespect each other’s boundaries.
  • Treat each other with contempt and disregard.
  • Criticize or demean each other’s looks, abilities, interests, or dreams.
  • Be stuck in cycles of dysfunction or “things that run in the family” like abuse, substance abuse, stagnation.
  • Have individuals who have low self-esteem, suicidal ideation, people-pleasing behavior, anxiety, depression, avoidance, manipulation, guilt, shame, pride, entitlement, passive-aggression, control, blame, procrastination and many other negative qualities.

 

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How to heal Generational Trauma

“Healing yourself is connected with healing others.” – Yoko Ono

Healing takes time and it’s a lifelong journey. Carrying the weight of decades of pain is not easy and attempting to heal it can be daunting because you’re doing what your ancestors couldn’t.

  • The first step is the willingness to familiarize yourself with the uncomfortable history of trauma in your family. This means asking your immediate family about what they know, how they’ve seen the trauma play out, stories from the past and any other information that could be useful to your healing.
  • Reparent yourself which is teaching yourself the things your parents did not like healthy coping methods, positive self-talk, and emotional regulation. Connect with your inner child and give them the love, care, value, and protection they didn’t receive. Treat yourself kindly and practice a lot of self-forgiveness through the journey.
  • Practice conscious parenting with your children which calls for patience, understanding, and awareness. Be a mindful parent who is aware of their actions and words and how they affect children. A conscious parent is present, emotionally intelligent, compassionate, empathetic, ever learning and responds to their child’s needs instead of reacting.
  • Invite others to heal with you. Journey with your family members if they are willing because that means they will also stop the generational trauma in their nuclear families. If they aren’t willing, talk to your closest friends about it. You need as much support as you can get because healing can be so isolating especially if nobody else in your family sees the need for it.
  • Enroll in therapy to help you make sense of everything. Therapy is a safe space for you to not only vent but also confront some uncomfortable truths about your family. Therapy will also equip you with the right coping strategies so that the inner work you do has a lasting impact. You are healing from things you may not fully understand and therapy helps you see the bigger picture.

 

The trauma was not your fault but the healing is your responsibility. The process will feel messy and uncomfortable at the beginning but as time passes by, you’ll see the beauty of it. You don’t have to live bonded by the negative cycles that run in your family and your children don’t have to experience them. You are one decision away from changing the trajectory of future generations. Believe that you can do it and proceed to do it. A new story can start with you and when the rest of your family says, “It runs in the family,” you can tell them “This is where it runs out.”

 

If you’ve noticed negative patterns in your family and need help breaking them, we are one call away. Allow us to help you begin your healing journey.

 

Healing may not be so much about getting better, as about letting go of everything that isn’t you – all of the expectations, all of the beliefs – and becoming who you are.” – Rachel Naomi Remen