Generational trauma is a difficult and complex subject. It is the trauma that is passed down from one generation to another. It can manifest itself in physical, mental, and emotional ways and is incredibly damaging. In this blog post, we will discuss what generational trauma is, its signs and symptoms, how it is passed down, how to uncover family secrets, the importance of self-care and ways to cope, and the role of therapy in healing generational trauma.
What is generational trauma?
Generational trauma is an intergenerational phenomenon that is the result of traumatic experiences, such as war, sexual assault, assault, abuse, neglect, and more. It is passed down from one generation to another through shared experiences and beliefs, as well as through epigenetic pathways. It is a way for the trauma of our ancestors to be passed down to us, even if we have not directly experienced it ourselves.
Generational trauma can lead to physical, mental, and emotional symptoms, such as depression, anxiety, fear, and even physical illness. It can also lead to patterns of behavior and coping mechanisms.
The signs and symptoms of generational trauma
Generational trauma surfaces in families that repeat toxic or unhealthy behaviours as conditioned "normal" patterns that are perceived as "safe" to the family members. Some of the signs and symptoms of generational trauma include:
Feelings of guilt, shame, and helplessness
A feeling of disconnection from family and community
A sense of being “stuck” in the past
Difficulty trusting others
Low self-esteem and self-doubt
Difficulty forming and maintaining relationships
Difficulty with emotional regulation
Mental Health / Mental Illnesses
Anxiety and panic attacks
Depression and feelings of hopelessness
Unresolved grief or trauma
Understanding how generational trauma is passed down
Generational trauma is passed down from generation to generation in many different ways. It can be passed down through shared experiences and beliefs, as well as through epigenetic pathways meaning: Epigenetics is the study of how our environment can influence our genes. When traumatic events occur, they can be passed down through our DNA, even if the person who experienced the trauma has already died. This means that the trauma of our ancestors can still be passed down to us, even if we have not directly experienced it ourselves. This can lead to a cycle of trauma that can be difficult to see, let alone break.
Generational trauma can also be passed down through our family beliefs, customs and values. These beliefs can be passed down from generation to generation and may include beliefs about money, education, self-worth, relationships, and more. These beliefs may shape the way we think and act in our lives and will be difficult to challenge.
Uncovering family secrets
To start the healing process, it is important to uncover family secrets. Yes, this is necessary. This can be a difficult and emotional process, and it is important to take it one step at a time. Start by talking to family members and asking them about the family’s history. Be prepared for difficult conversations and don’t be afraid to ask tough questions. It is also important to look for evidence of past trauma in addition to any trauma that may have happened directly to you. This can include old photos, documents, letters, and more. These can help to uncover the truth about your family’s past and can help you understand the root causes of the generational trauma.
How to start the healing process
Once you have uncovered family secrets and have a better understanding of the root causes of generational trauma, it is time to start the healing process. This can be a difficult and emotional process, and it is important to take it one step at a time and reach out for help as needed.
The first step is to start talking about it. Talk to family members and other trusted individuals about what you have uncovered. This can help to bring to light the pain and suffering that has been passed down from generation to generation. Shame can not live where we shine the light of forgiveness and hope.
The next step is to start to process your emotions. This can be done through journaling, talking to a therapist, coach or talking to a support group. It is important to express your emotions and to give yourself the space to grieve.
The final step is to start to take action. This can include trying to reconcile with family members, seeking professional help, or getting involved in community activities that build a sense of connection and worthiness within you. This can help to start to break the cycle of generational trauma.
The importance of self-care
Self-care is essential when it comes to healing generational trauma. It is important to take care of yourself and to take the time to do things that make you feel good. This can include things like exercising, meditating, journaling, spending time in nature, and engaging in creative activities. It is also important to practice healthy habits such as eating a balanced diet and getting enough sleep.
Self-care is also setting boundaries and taking care of yourself in difficult situations through this emotional process. It is important to be mindful of your energy and to be aware of when you are feeling overwhelmed. It is crucial to set boundaries with family members and to take the time to nurture yourself.
Ways to cope with generational trauma
There are many ways to cope with generational trauma. It is important to remember that everyone is different, so it is important to find the coping strategies that work for you. Here are some ideas on how to cope with generational trauma:
Connect with others who understand: Seeking out others who have gone through similar experiences can be incredibly helpful. This can help to provide support, understanding, and a sense of connection.
Learn healthy coping strategies: It is important to learn healthy coping strategies such as mindfulness, self-care, and positive self-talk. These can help to reduce anxiety, stress, and depression. Alignment Within Course by Infinity Nation is an excellent self-worth-building tool that you can do within the comfort of your own home.
Seek professional help: Seeking out a therapist, counselor or coach can be incredibly helpful when it comes to dealing with generational trauma. They can provide a safe space to process emotions and work through any issues that may be coming up.
Practice self-compassion: It is important to be kind to yourself and to practice self-acceptance and self-love. This can help to reduce feelings of guilt and shame and can help to cultivate a sense of self-respect.
The role of therapy in healing generational trauma
Therapy can be an incredibly helpful tool in healing generational trauma. Therapy provides a safe and non-judgmental space to explore and process emotions. It can also provide tools and strategies for coping with difficult emotions and for breaking the cycle of generational trauma.
Therapy can also help to uncover family secrets and to explore the root causes of generational trauma. This can be extremely beneficial in helping to understand the trauma and to start the healing process.
Therapy can also help to foster healthy relationships and to set healthy boundaries with family members. This can be incredibly helpful in breaking the cycle of generational trauma.
Know that you will not heal from severe childhood trauma without working with a trained trauma-informed therapist. If working with a therapist is a bit overwhelming to consider at the beginning of your journey then look for a coach as a good place to start working on building a relationship with yourself to find a therapist. There is a lot of self-worth needed on the road to hiring a therapist and there is no better outcome for healing generational trauma than being the cycle breaker looking backward.
Generational trauma is a difficult and complex subject. It is the trauma that is passed down from one generation to another and can manifest itself in many different ways. It is important to understand the signs and symptoms of generational trauma and to understand how it is passed down. It is also important to uncover family secrets and start the healing process. Self-care is essential and there are many ways to cope with generational trauma. Finally, therapy can be an incredibly helpful tool in healing generational trauma.
If you or someone you know is struggling with generational trauma, it is important to seek help. A therapist or counselor can provide a safe and non-judgmental space to process emotions and to work through any issues that may be coming up. Remember that healing is possible and that you are not alone.
This article was written by Nita Kruger; a generational trauma cycle breaker for her lineage. "You are stronger than you think."