July 6th, 2022
Co-authored by Dr. Holly Holmes-Meredith and Bill Yarborough.
Do you have any exaggerated emotional tendencies that puzzle you? Perhaps you fly off the handle whenever a car cuts in front of you or freeze up around assertive personalities or fear your partner will desert you.
Sometimes you can make reasonable assumptions about what causes such emotional reactions, either on your own or with the help of a healing professional. Regarding the exaggerated tendencies highlighted above, traumatic experiences could be a contributing factor, such as people violating your boundaries as a child, bullies picking on you in school, or your experiencing abandonment issues early in life. But sometimes there be may no apparent life experiences that created your exaggerated emotional reactions.
It could lead you to conclude that you were just born that way—and recent advances in epigenetics indicate you might be right.
Epigenetics is the study of changes in organisms caused by a modification of gene expression rather than an alteration of the genetic code itself. Recent epigenetics studies indicate trauma can change the expression of the DNA in our cells, and these changes are passed down from our parents and previous generations to us—just as we pass them down to our children and generations beyond. There is also evidence that we can inherit memories of trauma in our bodies.
DNA expression is not the only form by which trauma or other dysfunctional family patterns go from one generation to the next. Dysfunctional family patterns are often passed down through behavior, language, programming routines, family rituals, and many other forms. Often we are unconscious of these patterns, many of which developed during our parents, grandparents, and forebears’ lives.
A simple overview of history tells us that many of our parents, grandparents, and family ancestors experienced considerable trauma, including wars, pandemics, slavery, genocide, economic turbulence, homelessness, and countless others. It would be naïve to think none of our ancestors experienced trauma.
How do you break this generational cycle?
The first and most important step is to heal yourself. When you heal trauma and/or dysfunctional patterns within yourself, you heal generations in the future, preventing the passing of trauma by genetics and/or destructive behaviors. Personal transformations resulting from healing can allow future generations to overcome the limitations of the current and previous generations. In certain native shamanic traditions, it is believed that healing yourselves heals seven generations in the future—and seven generations in the past.
If you believe you are struggling with issues that could relate to your ancestral history, look for reoccurring patterns in your family and ancestors that are dysfunctional, such as abandonment, drug or alcohol abuse, emotional, physical, or sexual abuse, poverty, or other disabling patterns. Are there any of these patterns you are experiencing or possibly perpetuating, either consciously or unconsciously?
Bill experienced significant trauma during a period in his childhood and used a range of therapeutic tools to heal. However, when he looked beyond the traumas in his own life, he realized there was significant trauma in his family history. His mother was raised in Nazi, Germany, and experienced the bombing of Dresden. His father fought in two wars and worked for the American War Crimes staff, interviewing perpetrators operating the Nazi death camps. Bill’s grandparents and great-grandparents likewise experienced wars and other major upheavals. Bill is now addressing ancestral traumas besides those that occurred during his own life.
If you find ancestral patterns or behaviors that exist within you that are beyond what you can handle, consider professional help. Professional practitioners are available online or in person. Teaching professionals often have interns who charge minimal amounts.
A professional practitioner can use hypnotherapy, Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT or tapping), Reiki, self-hypnosis, and many other modalities to help you heal. EFT is an energetic healing approach that involves tapping on pressure points on the body to get release from negative emotions or traumas. Reiki is a hands-on, energetic healing technique that can create deep relaxation to help the body release stress and traumas. Hypnotherapy and self-hypnosis may provide you with an opportunity to connect with your ancestors. For example, in Family Parts Therapy, you can go into a hypnotic state and visualize healing dialogues with your parents and other ancestors.
Several of the above healing techniques can be learned and practiced on your own, such as EFT, self-hypnosis, and Reiki. You can learn more about these techniques from resources online and from healing professionals who can help you work with ancestral healing.
You can also embark on an inner journey using prayer, meditation, yoga, mindfulness, and journaling to create an inner peace your current lifestyle may not provide. Such practices can lead to greater mental clarity, allowing you to better recognize habits to keep, discard, or start. Such explorations can create a heightened sense of well-being and a powerful determination to continue on a path of transformation, supporting you in rising above hardships, and connecting with a power greater than yourself.
When you take steps to heal yourself, you are also taking steps to heal future generations of your family and maybe your broader culture. You may even trigger a spiritual transformation within yourself—and perhaps play your part in a possible global transformation.
By Dr. Holly Holmes-Meredith, D. Min., MFT, Board Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist and Bill Yarborough, CHT, and Certified EFT Practitioner.
Below is the link to the July 2022 Diablo Gazette on page 15.