How Can I Break the Cycle? 3 Tips to Transform Generational Trauma into Personal Growth

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How Can I Break the Cycle? 3 Tips to Transform Generational Trauma into Personal Growth

Adapted from Monica and Michael Berg’s Spiritually Hungry podcast. Listen and subscribe here.
March 11, 2024
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Generational trauma refers to the passing down of traumatic experiences or stresses from one generation to another. This could include the trauma of historical mistreatment or abuse that impacts the mind or body and is transferred down to future generations. A person who survived the Great Depression, for instance, might pass on a frugalness, aversion to throwing anything out, or even a mistrust of large banks. And those who were raised in abusive households very often perpetuate an environment of anger or violence with their own children. 

Not only are actions and behaviors passed down from generation to generation, there is growing evidence that the knowledge of past experiences is deeply encoded in our genetics. In other words, we don’t just inherit our smiles, eye colors, and heights from our ancestors, but also their trauma and pain. We don’t usually know all the details surrounding the trauma our parents or ancestors have experienced, but once we realize how greatly it impacts us, we can take steps to change it for ourselves and break the cycle for future generations.

Here are 3 tips to transform generational trauma into personal growth:

1. Look for the behaviors that you have inherited and be aware of how you are perpetuating them.

As children, we learn so much from watching our parents. We model behavior for our children, even when we don’t realize it. Children don’t always listen to what we teach them, but they almost always learn from seeing how we behave. A parent who acts with fear or anger is likely to instill those feelings in their children that are then often passed down to their children. The flip side of that coin is that our positive behaviors also have a lasting effect on future generations. 

Think of your parents and ancestors as humans with human experiences. Look at their past hurt and trauma that may have been shaped by their upbringing. When we are children, we only see through our own lens of experience, but at some point, it’s our responsibility to try and see other people’s perspectives and choose our response in a different way. This can help you understand the source of trauma and help you see where it shows up in yourself.

Take time to evaluate what behaviors you are displaying in your life that you would like to pass along to your children and which ones you don’t. Be aware of your actions and the impact they have on future generations.

2. Consider that your soul chose your family because it is the perfect setup for your personal growth.

The wisdom of Kabbalah teaches that our souls choose our parents before we are born based on our spiritual needs.  This means your soul chose your family, not based on the most comfortable or loving environment possible, but because your soul knows it is the perfect environment for you to grow and that you have the power to overcome the challenges it presents. 

Each of our souls has a unique purpose we are meant to accomplish in this life, and that requires major transformation. Think of your family as providing you with the perfect opportunities to grow in the most powerful ways. This doesn’t negate how difficult and painful your struggles may be, but it can change the perspective on why those challenges have presented themselves in your life and how you can use them to your spiritual benefit.

Think about why your soul would choose to come into your family, not despite the challenges but because of them. Trust that how you overcome these challenges is what is going to make you what you are meant to be. With this consciousness, you can remove the negative effects of the challenges and hopefully stop from passing along the trauma to future generations.

3. View inherited trauma as an opportunity to reevaluate your core beliefs and to choose a different path.

Once you accept your family as the perfect environment for your soul, then the question becomes, “How do I grow from this?” Sometimes people use the reality of generational trauma as an excuse to be a victim. People look to blame others for their misfortune or misery. No matter how extremely difficult your situation is, it just means your soul and essence are strong enough to overcome it.

When we challenge ourselves, we can change anything. Difficult experiences can propel us to incredible transformation when we work through them with positive intention and consciousness. We each have an opportunity to take a traumatic or inherited experience and use it to reevaluate our beliefs and behaviors, deciding how we want to grow from it and what we want to pass along to future generations.

Our ancestors pass down more than physical traits and family stories - we also inherit traumatic experiences that impact us in ways we are not even aware of. Through understanding this, we can better understand ourselves and learn to turn challenging experiences in our family’s history into opportunities for deep personal growth. And in doing so, we can break the cycle of trauma for future generations.