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Is Generational Trauma Preventing Your Success?

Generational trauma is a simple term for a complex problem.

In short, it explains the negative impact that a horrific event or pattern of events can have within a family for generations.

The victim of a traumatic crime, such as neglect or repeated rape, or even just a witness to a traumatic event, can pass the effects on to their children. This happens in how they react to similar situations, or in the stories they tell or refuse to tell their children, and sometimes even in repeating the same terrible behavior themselves.

The effects of generational trauma are as varied as individual people and the experience they had that traps them.


How does it start?

It starts with a specific event, or series of events, that shock the conscience.

This can include childhood rape or sexual abuse, especially if repeated. It can involve witnessing a crime committed by a loved one and being told to keep it secret, such as domestic violence involving a parent. It can involve not dealing with a family secret which in the past often included a family member’s homosexuality, which resulted in them being kicked out or separated from the family.

Or the causes could be wider, such as the effects of enslavement, being a witness to genocide, or living in extreme poverty. These experiences are so limiting to the human experience that the mind can have trouble processing it. Rather than talk about it, there is a natural desire to hide it and keep it secret.

When a person is forced to hide a defining moment and unable to process it, it can be fertile ground for creating generational trauma.

Being unable to create relationships is one sign of generational trauma.

What does it look like in the present?

The person who was traumatized and who has not dealt with the trauma might believe the incident is “gone” or “forgotten.” In fact, the event is neither gone nor forgotten.

Our brains are very complex, and the events we witness actually alter the physical shape of the brain – it’s how memories are formed. We might choose to try and work around in, but the memory is always there.

Avoiding it is what causes the generational trauma.

For instance, if a grandparent failed to deal with a traumatic rape experience, he or she might not have been comfortable talking about sex with their children. Making a subject this important taboo, means that the individual family members are left to their own to figure out reproductive health and morals around intercourse.

This can lead to uninformed decision-making and unhealthy choices. This trauma gets multiplied onto their children, who might not only experience the same lack of information, but may have been born years before their parents were full capable of taking care of them, leading to additional. compounding problems.

Or perhaps the traumatic issue was deep poverty. This experience can leave a person unable to pass good financial habits on to their own children. So even if their situation improves, the children might get terrible money-handling advice from their parents, or they might refuse to talk about money at all.


Now when it comes time to make a big decision about money, perhaps whether to buy a house, the victim of generational trauma might not be able to concentrate when tackling the paperwork. This might lead to abandoning the purchase altogether, or making a poor decision that costs them thousands of dollars or even doubles the cost in interest over time.

If there is an area of your life that you simply cannot keep in focus, it might be because of generational trauma.


So what can you do about it?

If there is an area of your own life that continually causes you problems, it is worth exploring.

  • Are you chronically in and out of relationships?
  • Are you terrible at managing your money?
  • Are you addicted to or abusing some intoxicant?
  • Do you engage in high-risk activities that could damage your relationships or perhaps kill you?
  • Are there areas you simply can’t talk about in your life?

These are the areas of your life you should explore deeply. You can do this yourself, but it is always helpful to have a friend or a trained therapist assist you in this process.

While it is interesting to raise these questions to ourselves, the effect of generational trauma means that we will always have blind spots. They were built into our brains during our formative years by our parents and grandparents.

This is why it is important at some point in your search to seek out the help of a trained therapist. This therapist can critically and objectively ask questions and probe the answers.

They have been trained in how to approach a situation from multiple angles. Their experience and training will help you see yourself and the experiences in a new light. Most importantly they will help you break through your own barriers.

Sakina-Issa-TherapistDo you think generational trauma might be the cause of one or more significant obstacles in your life? Do you wonder how you can work past it? Are you curious how to unlock the secrets of your own family’s past? Select the red button on this page and set up a conversation with Sakina Issa.

Sakina has studied generational trauma and leads conversations about it. Unlock your potential today.

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