“Your father is in every cell of your body. He lives on in you, and you bring him into your future.” Thich Nhat Hanh
Mathew, the only child of his parents, was only 13 when they separated. His mother was a successful lawyer and his father had been a restauranteur who took to alcohol after his the business tanked. Andrew had been a straight A student and became a lawyer like his mother. When the pressure of living alone and relationship issues got to him, he took to alcohol. Constantly straddling between his ambitious career and the self-sabotaging use of alcohol, Mathew was at the end of his rope when he went into therapy.
Through a modality called Family Constellation, he learnt that he was the perfect example of a child’s loyalty to both parents, enacting completely unconsciously, at the high cost of hindering the success of the now-grown child. His ‘hidden loyalties’ to his mother gave him the skills to be a good lawyer, but his father’s excessive drinking behaviour set him up for the same response to stress.
We not only have our grandpa’s long legs or mother’s curly hair, but we also inherit their pain, their fears, their traumas. We inherit the residue from traumatic events that have taken place in our family. While our physical traits are easily discernible, this emotional legacy is often hidden from us.
WHAT IS FAMILY CONSTELLATION?
Family Constellation originally developed by Bert Hellinger in the 1990’s in Germany, is an alternative therapeutic healing method by which we uncover hidden family dynamics and repressed feelings within the Family System that may originate with your parents or grandparents.
Family constellation is a healing modality that takes place in a group under the guidance of one person. This process supports healing, reconciliation and brings about a progressive change of perspective. Difficulties experienced by people may be influenced by traumas suffered in previous generations of the family, even if those affected now are unaware of the original event.
Dubai based Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist and Trauma Therapist Nissa Rahem conducts Family Constellation sessions, and has witnessed instant breakthroughs and dramatic shifts. “We each carry with us an energetic blueprint of our forefathers and ancestors. During a constellation, family issues are resolved, toxic cycles are broken, parental relations are addressed, and insights show up in a profound, often lifechanging way. ”
Read more on Nissa’s work at https://lifeintegratedtherapy.com/
The relatively new science of epigenetics is proving that who you are is the culmination of the experiences in your life–and even those of your ancestors–which cause changes in how your genes operate. In other words, you are born with a certain set of genes, but the events of your life determine which genes get expressed and which genes don’t.
For example, if our grandparents lived in a war-torn with a constant fear of death, they could pass on a survivor skill set to us—reflexes to react quickly to loud noises, and other such protective responses. This skill set would be helpful if we were to also live under a similar environment. But living in a safe and peaceful environment where this skill isn’t useful, the constant hypervigilance can create havoc in our bodies.
The bad news is that trauma can be inherited through epigenetic changes and a multitude of illnesses, behaviours, and health issues have been linked to epigenetic mechanisms. Related conditions include cancer, autoimmune diseases, neurodegenerative and psychological disorders, addictions, and respiratory, cardiovascular, reproductive, and neurobehavioral illnesses. Even their fears, their angers, their grief can all involuntarily become ours, a legacy we can perpetuate in our family. And only few of us ever make the link between our issues—our unexplained fear, anxiety, and depression—and what happened to our family members in a previous generation.
But there’s good news too! There are actions we can take that can help break the cycle.
BREAK THE PATTERN OF EMOTIONAL TRAUMA
There is a list of things you can do, as per Mark Wolynn, Director of The Family Constellation Institute, The Inherited Trauma Institute and The Hellinger Institute of Northern California:
- Heal Your Core Circle
If strained, then start with healing your relationship with your parents first. Remember, the residue of pain can pass forward.
Back in the 1950s, researchers at Harvard Medical School asked 21-year-old students to describe their relationship with their parents using the following scale: “very close,” “warm and friendly,” “tolerant,” or “strained and cold.”
Thirty-five years later, the results were tallied. What the researchers discovered was astounding. Ninety-one percent of participants who stated that their relationship with their mother was “tolerant” or “strained and cold” were diagnosed with a significant health issue such as coronary artery disease, hypertension, alcoholism, etc. Similar numbers were reported for participants who described their relationship with their father. If participants had a strained or cold relationship with both parents, the results were startling: 100 percent had significant health issues.
These statistics are revealing, and suggest that our connection, or lack of connection, to our parents can influence our health as we age. Not only can your relationship with your parents affect your health, it can mirror the quality of the relationship you have with your partner, your boss, your friend, and even the relationship you have with yourself. Yet, no matter how unhappy we perceive our relationship with our parents to be, one thing remains certain; these relationships can heal.
Reconcile your broken relationships with your parents.
2. Shake the family tree and see what falls out.
Who are you and where do you come from? What family secrets have been hidden? What stories didn’t get told? What traumas have never fully healed? It can be important to know these things, especially if we’re unconsciously reliving elements of traumas that don’t belong to us.
3. Talk to your children.
It’s important to talk openly to your children about the key events in their parents or grandparents life. When you share the situations that have smouldered in the family history, it could even come as a great relief to them—especially if they make the connection that they’ve been carrying an emotion or fear that they now see as belonging to you or your parents or grandparents.
We can’t change the past and we can’t change our lineage, but we can certainly change what is. And what will be. We may ask: ‘What are my children really inheriting? Can my baggage, the unfinished business I don’t deal with, pass on to my kids? Without knowing it, could I be hurting them?’ Change is notoriously known for not always being easy. It often pushes the very edges of who we are so that we can step beyond our limits and become more of the person we want to be. But before your outwardly world changes – that new job or the right partner comes along, your inner world must change. Your thoughts, and your willingness. Right this moment, if you were just a step away from making a change towards a more full and complete life, what step would you take?
It didn’t start with you…. But it can certainly end with you.
Delna Mistry Anand teaches meditation for the modern mind, integrating techniques for mindfulness-based stress reduction, spiritual guidance and more. Using a combination of healing modalities along with traditional practices of yoga, meditation and pranayama, she leads people to reconnect with their inner wisdom and bring about their own spiritual healing in a deep and profound way.
Delna is a certified hatha yoga and meditation teacher, sound healing practitioner, Reiki master, regression therapist and a gifted intuitive mentor. She can be contacted for readings and spiritual guidance online, as well as for personal appointments on firstname.lastname@example.org