In the same way that genetic characteristics can be passed on, many other characteristics can be passed on from one generation to the next. We can inherit trauma which can have a very deep impact on our lives. There is a part of our ancestors that live inside of us whether we know it or not. Positive inherited characteristics can help us survive and grow. Negative characteristics, such as trauma, can lead to harmful behavior and mental and physical health issues. If it is not repaired, it is repeated. Trauma changes you permanently and there is no “undoing it”. However, we can heal trauma, transmit resilience and foster post-traumatic growth.
Families with a history of unresolved trauma will likely continue to pass along maladaptive coping strategies, abusive behavior, and distrustful views to future generations. Thus, the cycle of trauma continues.
The effects of trauma can be widespread:
Anxiety. Depression. Trauma. Addiction. Low self-esteem. Mistrust. Shame. Negative coping strategies (substance use, denial, minimization). Unhealthy/negative parenting. Difficulty with relationships. Diminished attachment. Difficulty regulating emotions especially aggression. Chronic stress. Compromised immune system and autoimmune disorders. physical illness such as heart disease and diabetes.
A very effective way to manage or forestall traumatic symptoms is to build resilience. Resilience refers to the ability to bounce back after adversity. Below are links to several very good Ted Talks that depict several people who have been through significant trauma and the tools they used to build resilience.
Informative Ted Talks on Building Resilience:
A young man learns mind over matter to build resilience – about 14 minutes
An author shares 3 interventions she used during a personal tragedy – about 16 minutes
A psychologist shows how to build personal and community resilience – about 13 minutes
A psychiatrist shares her story of generational trauma and resilience building – about 16 minutes
TheseTed Talk videos provide very good information on the successful healing journeys that people have undertaken to heal trauma. It is worth your while to set aside some time and watch – in one sitting or several. At the least, you will be be inspired. At best, you will learn new ways to build resilience and/or have some of your resilience-building tools reinforced.