When your ancestors experienced trauma, the effects of that can get passed on to you. This phenomenon is called intergenerational trauma. It can make life very difficult, to say the least. Fortunately, there are signs of this trauma that you can look for. And there are ways to seek healing.
What Is Intergenerational Trauma?
Intergenerational trauma, also known as ancestral or transgenerational trauma, is the transmission of traumatic experiences and their psychological effects across generations. These are usually survival and coping mechanisms developed by our ancestors that are no longer useful for us today.
This concept suggests that the emotional, psychological, and sometimes even physical effects of trauma experienced by one generation can be passed down to subsequent generations. It can impact future generations’ mental and emotional well-being.
Intergenerational trauma is often discussed in the context of families and communities who have endured significant historical or systemic traumas.
How Trauma Is Passed Down
Ancestral trauma can be passed on to the next generation in several ways. This is why it’s important to focus on healing yourself so as to not pass it onto your children (or even nieces and nephews). We’ll get into that in a minute, but for now here are the main ways trauma can be passed down.
It often begins with a collective traumatic event or a history of systemic oppression, like slavery, colonization, genocide, war, forced displacement, or cultural suppression. These traumatic experiences can have long-lasting impacts on the affected communities.
The emotional and psychological wounds resulting from these traumatic events may not fully heal in the affected individuals. Instead, the emotional pain and stress can be transmitted from one generation to the next, either through direct communication or through more subtle, non-verbal means.
The trauma is often carried within families and communities, influencing cultural norms, values, and behaviors. It can manifest as mental health issues, substance abuse, relationship problems, or a pervasive sense of unease and distress.
Some research suggests that trauma can influence gene expression and affect a person’s DNA, influencing the health of generations far into the future. This can lead to epigenetic changes, which may affect how genes are turned on or off in descendants. These changes could play a role in the transmission of trauma-related vulnerabilities.
What Intergenerational Trauma Looks Like
When we talk about intergenerational trauma, it can feel a bit esoteric. What does it look like in real life? Here are some common examples of how this type of trauma manifests itself in people.
Mental Health Issues
People and the larger communities affected by intergenerational trauma may experience higher rates of mental health disorders. This includes depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and substance abuse. These issues can be a response to the unprocessed emotional pain carried across generations.
Maladaptive behavioral patterns, like aggression, self-destructive behavior, or avoidance of difficult emotions, can be passed down. These patterns may serve as coping mechanisms that were learned from previous generations.
Difficulty in Forming Relationships
Interpersonal difficulties – like trust issues, difficulties in forming and maintaining close relationships, and emotional intimacy – may be a result of intergenerational trauma. These difficulties can stem from the fear of being hurt or betrayed, which may be passed down from ancestors who experienced those things.
Self-Esteem and Identity Issues
A sense of low self-esteem, self-worth, or identity confusion can be intertwined with intergenerational trauma. This may be related to the devaluation and disempowerment experienced by previous generations.
Communities affected by historical or cultural trauma may experience a disconnection from their cultural heritage and a lack of knowledge about their history. This can contribute to a loss of identity and a sense of belonging.
Individuals exposed to intergenerational trauma may experience chronic stress due to the ongoing effects of historical oppression or discrimination, which can lead to physical health problems.
Reenactment of Trauma
Some individuals may unconsciously reenact aspects of the trauma experienced by their ancestors. This can contribute to perpetuating destructive patterns in their own lives and relationships.
While still an area of ongoing research, some studies suggest that intergenerational trauma can influence gene expression through epigenetic changes (as we mentioned above). This can potentially affect a person’s vulnerability to certain health and mental health conditions.
Ancestral Healing: How To Tackle It
Intergenerational trauma is a serious issue. So the solution has to be taken seriously. Ancestral healing, AKA ancestral liberation, is an ongoing process that is not easy. It requires emotional maturity, intentionality, and open-mindedness.
But the good news is, when we start healing the ancestral patterns that are not serving us anymore, we start healing the entire ancestral lines. This allows us to receive the whole power and support of our lineages. And that’s essential for achieving our full potential.
So here are the general steps you can start with…
1. Acknowledgment and Awareness
The first step in healing intergenerational trauma is acknowledging that it exists and understanding its impact. This often involves recognizing how historical and systemic traumas have affected your family or community.
2. Therapy and Counseling
Before you can help heal your loved ones or your community at large, you must first heal yourself. Individual therapy or group counseling can provide a safe and supportive space to explore the effects of trauma, process difficult emotions, and develop coping strategies. Therapists who specialize in trauma, especially intergenerational trauma, can be particularly helpful.
3. Cultural Reconnection
Part of healing yourself could involve reconnecting with cultural traditions, language, and practices. It can help you regain a sense of identity and strength. Cultural revitalization is an important aspect of healing intergenerational trauma.
Learning about the history and context of the trauma that affected your family or community can be empowering and help to break the cycle of ignorance and silence. It can also promote understanding and empathy among generations.
This can be an exhausting process, mentally and emotionally. So I highly recommend trying an aid that will support your focus and motivation, like our liquid tincture MIND.
5. Mindfulness and Self-Care
Practices like mindfulness meditation, yoga, and self-care activities can help individuals manage stress and emotional challenges associated with intergenerational trauma.
In order to stay mindful of yourself, you can give yourself an aid like the liquid tincture SOL. It helps clear your mind, calm your nerves, and it puts you in a state of openness and care.
6. Community Support
Next, get others in your community involved. Engage with local organizations that can provide support, understanding, and a sense of belonging. Sharing experiences with others who have faced similar challenges can be healing and empowering.
7. Healthy Relationships
Building healthy and supportive relationships can be a critical part of the healing process. This includes learning healthy communication and relationship skills.
8. Epigenetic Factors
While the science of epigenetics is still evolving, maintaining a healthy lifestyle through exercise, nutrition, and stress management may help mitigate some of the potential epigenetic changes associated with trauma.
You can keep yourself healthy and functioning well with the Biohacker Set, three adaptogenic and nootropic mushroom tonics. Taken together, they give you an energy boost, increase your stamina, and help you sleep better.
9. Advocacy and Social Change
Work towards advocating for social and political changes that address systemic issues contributing to trauma. This can help prevent future generations from experiencing similar traumas.
The Best Support for Ancestral Healing
Ancestral healing is a lifelong journey, and it will look different for each person. Every person with intergenerational trauma experiences it differently and within different contexts.
However, there is one way you can support yourself through this process, regardless of your type of ancestral trauma.
On top of following the steps in this post, you can support yourself with four liquid tinctures we’ve put together and called The Complete Set.
When you microdose the tinctures in this set, you’ll start to see several benefits. It will help you concentrate. It will calm your nerves and wash you with a feeling of serenity. You’ll feel more open to connecting with yourself, your familial and cultural history, and others in your community.
The ingredients include plants that have been used in traditional healing for centuries, like ayahuasca and Abuelo Sanango, two plants that work specifically for ancestral healing.
Overall, your trauma healing will be less tumultuous and more intentional. Try The Complete Set here.