Generational Trauma: 9 Effective Ways to Get Off the Hamster Wheel

Is it possible to break the cycle of generational trauma?

You’ve heard the saying “Hurt people hurt people” to refer to the intergenerational trauma cycle. Well, the reality is that trauma can definitely be passed down to future generations through how a parent interacts with their kids, the patterns and behaviors children see their parents engaging in, or even through genetics.

And according to the CDC, at least 1 in 7 children in the US experienced neglect or abuse in the last year, which can include trauma. Childhood abuse and neglect increases the odds that the cycle will repeat at some point down the road.

Here at Psychology Diary, we’ve previously talked about the traits all family trauma survivors possess. But now, we wish to get to the root of the problem and the 9 most effective ways to stop generational trauma in its tracks.

…Continue reading and see if this applies to you.

Generational Trauma
Photo by fizkes at Shutterstock

Acknowledge what’s happening

According to experts, one of the main reasons generational trauma continues is that families don’t talk about it. And trauma often goes unresolved.

Acknowledging that adverse childhood experiences or traumatic events have significantly impacted you is a helpful first step toward healing. This can look like admitting that you’ve experienced something complex and may be hurting others.

For many, confronting these experiences or considering the effects can be challenging. Addressing the trauma cycle can be tricky because it requires you to be vulnerable. Also, the trauma and its influence aren’t always obvious.

Taking the time and doing the work to truthfully and vulnerably process what you’ve been through can allow you to recover, learn to respond to stressors instead of reacting, and create a new narrative for your future offspring.

Openly and honestly communicating with your family members

Another way to process your trauma is by observing and gaining awareness of your family’s patterns and whether or not you contribute to these patterns, as well.

Only by uprooting the habits you have learned from past generations can you truly begin to teach younger generations how to heal.

Talking to a family therapist, learning healthy coping mechanisms, and working through the trauma can give you the tools you require to work toward healing.

Rely on supportive people

You don’t have to go through something like this alone. It’s common for those who’ve experienced trauma or abuse to gravitate toward familiar unhealthy relationship patterns.

For instance, you might levitate towards people who frequently raise their voices to communicate because you’re used to this type of exchange. But being around individuals who reinforce the trauma you’ve been through can make healing more difficult.

So, instead, you might find it more beneficial to cultivate an inner circle full of people who want to support you in your learning and healing process.

During this time, you need those willing to listen calmly as you talk about something difficult you experienced or when you describe complex family interactions growing up.

Once you better understand your patterns, you’ll likely find it much easier to create a social circle that lifts you instead of bringing you down.

Consider reaching out to a professional for help

Reaching out to a mental health professional can help you process your trauma and begin work on healing. There are many types of therapy for trauma and multiple treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder.

Some styles of therapy are particularly effective for complex trauma or childhood trauma, such as dialectical behavior therapy and cognitive-behavioral methods.

Many problems can come from generational trauma that might not be trauma per se, such as maladjusted ways of dealing with stress. Various therapies can also help with these matters, including:

-Cognitive behavioral therapy
-Psychodynamic therapy for attachment
-Interpersonal therapy
-Family systems therapy

A mental health professional has the means to support you through:
-Unpacking the influence of trauma
-Processing the trauma
-Helping you discover how to respond to situations in a healthier way

Generational Trauma
Photo by fizkes at Shutterstock

Does generational trauma ever go away?

This type of trauma, like an untreated wound, doesn’t just go away on its own. Furthermore, unresolved and unacknowledged generational trauma can get much worse over time.

It can also become more destructive as more and more generations become deeply rooted in unhealthy coping habits. But, with the right support, it’s very possible to break the patterns that have affected your family for so long.

Coping mechanisms for healing generational and historical trauma

Relying on therapy for generational trauma or historical trauma can help you learn healthy ways of coping, and you’ll begin to heal and break the patterns left by violence, oppression, and discrimination.

There are also some techniques you can use to heal and manage generational trauma. They include:

-Learning to identify, acknowledge, and accept your trauma
-Learning to set boundaries
-Practicing meditation and mindfulness
-Communicating and finding support from others
-Practicing self-care

On the other hand, historical trauma refers to multigenerational trauma that happens in specific racial, cultural, or ethnic groups and is connected to oppression and significant traumatic events like the Holocaust, slavery, forced migration, or Native American colonization.

Here are some ways to aid you in healing from historical trauma:

-Acknowledging your experiences and feelings
-Connecting with those who are strong in the culture
-Finding support from those who are also working through grief
-Family therapy can also help you work to heal the entire family system

Things that can happen as a result of breaking the cycle

While you’re going through this process, you may be in doubt about your efforts. Here are some signs an individual is becoming successful in breaking generational trauma patterns:

-Feeling more connected with themselves and their family
-Ability to talk about their emotions more freely
-Not being afraid of change
-Being more trusting of others
-Decreased time isolating themselves and more time spent with others
-Ability to face their fears

How many generations will it take to break the cycle?

There’s no specific amount of time or generations it takes to overcome any type of trauma. If an individual has trauma passed down from past generations, whether it’s from their parents or 5 generations ago, they can overcome it and break the cycle themselves.

If you or a loved one are working through something like this, we recommend seeking help as soon as possible. You should know that you’re not alone and can break the harmful patterns and create a new storyline for you and your loved ones moving forward.

Speak with someone you trust and seek professional support, whether through a healthcare provider, a therapist, or another mental health specialist. Keeping a journal of your progress may also be beneficial.

Generational Trauma
Photo by Ground Picture at Shutterstock

So, what’s next?

Having an emotionally supportive space to focus on your mental health and healing can be beneficial. And that’s not always a possibility for everyone. But while obstacles to access exist, there are options for support.

For instance, if you’re considering reaching out to a mental health specialist but are worried about affordability, you might want to try:

-Asking about payment options
-Looking into professionals who offer discounted rates
-Online therapy and in-person support groups
-Looking into community-based mental health resources

During this process, it can help to give yourself the space to feel what you’re feeling without judgment. And you should also prioritize what makes you feel good.

Don’t forget that the cycle of intergenerational trauma isn’t your fault. But choosing to end the cycle and trying to find a way to heal is within your control.

If you found this article on generational trauma helpful, we highly recommend also reading: Overcoming Parent-Child Conflict: 5 Easy Steps to Navigate




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

most popular