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Coping with Ancestral Trauma

Coping with Ancestral Trauma

We inherit many things from our families—our eye color, height, and other physical characteristics, to name a few. However, many other qualities are less evident to the eye. We also take on—our family's trauma. Our family's emotional history, phobias, anxieties, and prejudices become ours too. We receive these unique familial characteristics through many means, like cultural expectations, social behaviors, and our genes. Read on to acquire valuable skills to cope and heal from the trauma we did not choose to inherit—for ourselves and future generations.

Coming to Terms with Our Ancestral Trauma

Just like our families, ancestral trauma is unique. The trauma could result from a singular event such as divorce, a tragic death, abuse, parental incarceration, or addiction. Ancestral trauma can also involve social injustices, economic struggles, or any other cultural environment that affect family members for extended periods of time. Researchers suggest that negative parenting skills are often the direct result of personal trauma, which is how these attitudes and struggles can quickly be passed down from parent to child. Before you can work to heal the cycle of trauma, you must first search for its root and understand where the cycle may have started and how it developed.

Symptoms of Ancestral Trauma

There are instances where the effects of our family's trauma are not so cut and dry; however, many symptoms can manifest if you are dealing with the emotional weight of a tragic familial lineage. Some of these effects are:

  1. 1. Depression, anxiety, and panic attacks
  2. 2. Social withdrawing or emotional numbness
  3. 3. Trouble sleeping and eating
  4. 4. Short temper and anger management issues

Rewriting your future with love, care, and intention will help you get on the road to healing if you are dealing with any of the above symptoms.

How to Break the Cycle of Ancestral Trauma

With enough intention and inner strength, any ancestral trauma cycle can be broken or redirected. Some therapists are trained to deal with these types of struggles and traumas, specifically with individuals and whole family units. Once your family agrees that you must begin a new legacy, start tracing old family narratives, behaviors, beliefs, and experiences through one-on-one or group conversations. This will take time and care and sometimes will bring up events or memories that will be difficult to hear.

The two most important things to note are that open communication is critical and so is your emotional safety. Be sure to focus on getting the most truthful conversations without making your family members feel overly vulnerable or unsafe. You may find that your family may be self-censoring to protect you and themselves; however, the truth will set your family free. If you are having difficulties navigating your family's experiences and feelings, you can seek more professional help and assistance during your journey. The road to healing will naturally unfold through unearthing wounds as a collective.

Our relationships with our family are a complex mix of things in and out of our control. By identifying our family's traumas, we can better understand the things we inherit and how we can manage them to ensure our happiness and success for future generations.

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