Breaking Family Cycles
Did you grow up hearing,
“Stop crying or I’ll give you something to cry about!”?
Did you speak your truth only to be threatened and told to “watch your mouth”?
Just like parents pass down their beliefs to their children, they also pass down and embed their coping mechanisms…their survival techniques.
Things like people pleasing and codependency stem from traumatic childhoods where we learned to adapt in order to survive.
Maybe like me, you weren’t aware of the unhealed toxic beliefs and embedded coping mechanisms within you when you became a parent.
We only know what we know, right?
We’re all doing the very best we can…so no judgment, no shame.
This is a safe place to take our power back by unlearning what we’ve been taught.
And because time is fluid, we can choose to heal unprocessed pain and give our children a brighter future with a brighter version of ourselves, no matter how old or young we are.
Our children can help us heal….but only if we’re brave enough to face ourselves and not point the finger at them and their behavior.
Our kids are our mirrors. Whatever we see in them, is an aspect of ourselves begging to be acknowledged and loved.
Like many first-born children, my oldest son is very mature for his age and carries the weight of family expectations on his shoulders.
As a child, he innocently mirrored my own inability to stand up for myself and speak my truth. And in my ignorance, I didn’t see his people pleasing behavior as a negative thing because it made my job as a parent so much easier.
My youngest son was the complete opposite. He was defiant and oppositional about everything and lied from the time he could talk. He is the family’s cycle breaker.
One of the things I absolutely love about him is that he always speaks his truth, and he absolutely refuses to push away his emotions and feelings to conform or appease others.
When he was young, I found his behavior wildly frustrating.
In his beautiful innocence, and unwavering strength, he mirrored my own inauthenticity.
I was lying to myself about my marriage, about my life, about my worth, about my value, about my feelings… and so many things I had been conditioned to believe as a child.
And in my own ignorance and conditioning I passed these toxic beliefs and survival skills down to my children….as my mother before me…and her mother before her…. patterns of behavior…. sins of the father…. Generations waiting for the family’s liberator to break toxic cycles.
We tend to push away painful emotions and memories because, well, they’re painful.
But when we don’t honor our feelings, our experiences…. we end up creating disharmony in our lives and disease in our bodies.
As these painful feelings and memories continue to be ignored, they become mountains instead of molehills.
I’m not saying that what you survived as a child was insignificant….I’m saying facing it as an adult is not as horrific as we tend to believe.
Did you have a boogie man in your closet when you were little?
I did! And when I went to bed, he snuck out of my closet and laid under my bed!
I was terrified to have any part of my body hanging over the edge of my bed… the things I imagined would happen to me!!
I could not allow a foot, a hand, or even a finger to find its way over the edge the bed!
Before I knew it I was lying very still, being as small as I could be…absolutely terrified to move.
Our unprocessed feelings are like the boogie man under our beds, they get bigger and bigger with our imagination as we become smaller and smaller, diminishing ourselves as we desperately try to avoid them.
But in order to avoid passing them onto our children…. we must bravely face and feel them.
I know how scary it feels to face those painful memories from childhood.
But think about it like this…. you already did the hard part as a child…you survived! Facing them now as an adult is taking your power back!
Imagine all the hurt, all the neglect, all the silenced words, unheard cries, the pain, the anger, the absolute outrage of your childhood all trapped within the cells of your body…stored in your subconscious mind which knows no time. The subconscious mind exists in the trauma, still in that moment of pain….which means part of you is still being hurt, still seeking to be saved.
And the only one who can save your wounded inner child is you.
You are the only one who knows her deepest fears, her insecurities, her traumas, her talents, her gifts, and her dreams.
By finally feeling those trapped emotions, you acknowledge the pain you experienced as a child.
This acknowledgment allows your body to finally release the pain from your subconscious mind….
Healing the disharmony, the disease and the dysfunction it was creating.
When we feel our feelings, both present and past, we honor our experience.
And we honor ourselves in a way that the adults in our lives simply could not.
Remember, your family chose you as their healer. You agreed because you knew you had the tools, the strength, the courage and the wisdom to do it!
What coping mechanisms are you unknowingly passing down to your children?
Do you have the courage to stop pointing your finger at their behavior and see that they are offering you an incredible opportunity to know and love yourself deeper than ever before.
In order to break generational cycles of trauma and pain…we must allow our kids the freedom to tell us when we’re doing something that is hurting them, without becoming defensive or dismissive.
It takes wisdom, courage and strength, but we can do it. We can teach our children how to thrive, so that when they’re adults, they don’t have to unlearn the survival skills that we innocently passed on to them.
Until next time, be gentle with yourself and remember,
You are so much more than you’ve allowed yourself to believe!