Generational Trauma

1814286167“We are a product of our environment.”

We have all heard that one before!

And to an extent, it’s true; our environment does play a significant role in shaping who we are. From the neighborhood we grew up in to the schools and workplaces we went to – there are countless influences we’ve been exposed to in our lives.

But even more important than that is how we’ve been impacted by the dynamics of the family we grew up in.

That’s why understanding our family of origin is so important.

As a child, we rely on parents or caregiver(s) to meet our basic needs, and we develop trust in them that our needs will be met. Our families give us the first glimpse into feeling valued, special, and loved.

However, in some cases, our needs are not met, and we’re exposed to an environment that makes us feel uncertain and defenseless. In this case, our beliefs surrounding family roles, managing conflict, and communication are all seriously altered.

Our concepts of good and bad, right and wrong, pride and shame, and how we view ourselves are all formed by these early experiences. As a result, you’ve come to believe that the constant conflicts, criticism, disconnection, and isolation are normal. You just assume that all families treat each other this way.

Exploring the past is the only way to understand the present.

Sarah* was the good employee. She always arrived 10 minutes before her shift and was willing to pick up the slack if anything needed doing. When the boss asks her to come in on her day off, she answers yes for fear of disappointing him. Now she has to explain to her husband why she’s going to miss another date night. She realized that her people-pleasing behaviors were negatively impacting her relationships and general well-being, so she reached out to me. After a few sessions together, she began to uncover the origins of these patterns from childhood. She was constantly forced to play peacemaker during her parents’ divorce, and she now notices how those same behaviors are repeating themselves in her life today.

Michael* and Gina* used to communicate openly and share everything, but lately, things have become strained. They’re fighting more frequently and seem to have forgotten how to talk to one another. She blames him for never sticking up for her to his parents, and despite his constant promises that things will be different, they never are. They eventually decided it was time to find some help. As we worked through their issues in couples therapy, we uncovered the vast differences in how each of their families of origin dealt with conflict and communication. Michael’s family avoided conflict and brushed problems aside, while Gina’s preferred to confront problems head-on and hash them out immediately. These revelations allowed them to understand each other better and communicate more openly and honestly.

1665651469As hard as we try to outrun it, our history is never far behind us.

As if it wasn’t enough that we’re at the mercy of our own childhood experiences, we also hold the trauma of our family’s history. Harmful patterns trickle down from generation to generation, taking on new life with each incarnation.

A history of abuse, neglect, or violence at home frequently manifests itself as substance abuse, self-harm, or domestic violence in the present.

These generational wounds are effectively the driving factors behind the depression, anxiety, and PTSD you’re experiencing today.

It’s time to take a step toward lasting positive change.

Healing starts with understanding how past traumas have created a path of fear, mistrust, unhealthy relationships, and unsafe behaviors in your life.

Through our work, you’ll come to identify the generational patterns that have repeated themselves, and better understand the behaviors you’ve adopted as a means of survival. Together, we can develop the skills to address these uncomfortable feelings and memories keeping you from connecting with others and yourself.

Let’s get you on your way to living a peaceful life and break the cycle so you can pave a better way for the generations to follow.

*Names and stories are composite narratives and do not reflect actual clients.