In my world, generational healing is about the person in a family system that is brave enough and aware enough to end unhealthy patterns of behavior. The one willing to stand up and refuse to pass on pain and dysfunction to the next generation.
I believe we inherit generational pain patterns and that with increased self-awareness and hard work, they can heal. In my private practice, I see generational healing session after session, miracle after miracle and what I’m here to suggest today, is that generational healing is available to you. It’s not fun or easy, it’s messy, but it’s possible and it’s always, always worth it.
What are some examples of generational pain patterns?
Abuse cycles. Poverty cycles. Mental illness cycles. And while all of this is real, it only takes one person for the cycles can start to break, heal, and transform. While our parents are the influences that pass on generational pain patterns from one generation to the next, it’s not their fault. This is important in my work with clients. It’s often scary for clients to think about. I don’t want to blame my parents. So, I want to be clear when we’re talking about generational healing, we’re not talking about passing the blame. Generational healing is not about blaming your parents or grandparents, it’s about ending long-standing patterns of behavior that don’t serve us.
Our parents are our teachers. They are our teachers of what’s possible and what’s not? Of what works and what doesn’t? What’s right and what’s the wrong way? What our escape and exit strategy? We learn our coping skills from our parents. Healthy and unhealthy. So, what’s important in this conversation today about generational healing is that no one is wrong, and no one is at fault. No parent is responsible for what their children make up about themselves and their potential or their limitations. It’s nobody’s fault. Kids make up a lot of things to survive. I made up things to survive my childhood, and so did you. And so did my parents, and so did your parents.
So, whether you’re in a cycle of pain or dysfunction, whatever cycles you may have inherited, you can absolutely heal.
I can’t emphasize enough how much power we have in transforming the experiences.
Our learned pattern of behavior goes deep. Most of the time it’s subconscious and it can be painful to change because even our dysfunction can start to feel safe. The unhealthy ways we communicate and relate to others, is often preferred to the risk of opening up. Stepping out of our comfort zone and learning and experiencing new ways of being is scary.
I’ll give you an example of generational healing. While I was sick after diagnosed with cancer and having a brand-new baby, I was in the fight of my life. And not just for my life, but with my body and with my relationship with my body. I remember thinking about all the men and women in my generational ancestry that also had body issues. What is the healing work that I’m taking on? I was challenging the relationship I had with my body. Challenging the belief that my body was to blame. Not just for cancer, but really at the time, I was thinking it was my body’s fault for anything and everything that had ever gone wrong in my life.
One of my unhealthy patterns of thinking was “Things don’t go my way because I’m too fat.” I thought I didn’t get treated better because I’m too fat. I didn’t get seen or noticed or respected because I’m too fat. I believed life would have been easier for me if I just wasn’t so fat. My journey with my body has been a doozy. From childhood abuse, to eating disorders, to over-exercising. I would beat myself up because I thought I needed to be thinner, sexier, more attractive before I could feel better about myself. It was a vicious cycle, and I’ll never forget being in this cancer battle and thinking, what if this body work I’m struggling with reaches back farther than just me?
What I’m going to suggest to you right now is, whatever generational healing patterns you want to change for you, for your kids, if you’re willing to get honest with yourself, it’s possible. It’s totally possible! I did it for my daughter because I couldn’t do it for myself in the beginning. You might not be able to do it for yourself in the beginning either, and that’s OK. But if you see family members playing out dysfunctional patterns, if you see possibility for yourself and your kids beyond what you were taught, then this is for you. Because it can definitely change.
I have lots of family members and lots of generations and history of people in my lineage that don’t have healthy relationships with their bodies or honor their bodies. And on some level, I energetically and literally took that on and then had my own unhealthy relationship with my body. But I get to decide. Am I going to keep playing this out, am I going to continue being part of the negative cycle?
This is delicate, and the possibilities for miracles are endless. I’m really grateful that my mom is willing to talk through generational patterns and the dynamics and breakdowns that don’t work anymore. Together, we are on a journey to repair and reinvent these behavior patterns and heal for the next generation.
The number one step to generational healing is to just get honest.
I’ll say that again, the number one step to generational healing is to get honest about the patterns you’re in that you don’t want to be in anymore. The second step is to start to have the hard conversations about your responsibility for the pattern that you’re in. It’s a rabbit hole and it’s a shit show to go down the road of blaming your parents, your ancestors, your circumstances, your childhood. You must acknowledge that you’re in a painful patter. For me, the example I’ve used, is the war with my body. I’ve got to talk about it. I’ve got to talk about my weight and realize and recognize and own it.
Something must change in order for things to change.
Always approach healing change from a place of personal responsibility. You cannot get someone else to change or end a generational pattern. But by owning you, owning your own actions and behavior, saying “I’m unhappy. I’m suffering. I am no longer wanting to live this way” you can breathe new life and possibility into a hurting relationship.
Your friends and family may not be supportive of you stepping away from years of predictable behavior to heal. Do it anyway. Do your healing work, your transformational work anyway. Regardless of abuse or history or pain, always meet people where they are, for who they are as a human being, with flaws, with a past, with compassion. And watch your family’s system start to heal and transform. And more than that, your experience with your family’s system can heal and transform.