How Real Is Intergenerational Trauma?

2. Start connecting the dots

I remember the time when I first had the feeling that I am intrinsically connected with my family of origin and that some aspects that enrage me or confuse me, aren’t just my own, I took a notebook and sat down.

I got in touch with feelings in context of my family that I have always found convoluted and alongside wrote down things that I have repeatedly heard my mother, father and grandmother convey in passing conversation or even like they were the last word.I also looked at my own triggers and began to make connections with the ones I saw in them too.

Connecting the dots to get to your family’s specific inter-generational trauma is often slow and circuitous.

Curiosity and compassion towards the narratives you’ve been able to unearth.


3. Take help to acknowledge

The topic of inter-generational trauma is a tough one and tougher when you try to get to the bottom of, all by yourself.

Please don’t hesitate to work with a therapist if you can afford one, because this will allow you more opportunities for exploration while a dedicated person “holds space” for you. You may even want to look at therapies that have thematic resonances to this subject.

The one I can instantly think of is Family Constellation therapy, a form that takes you deeper into family narratives through embodiment, helping you to make connections and glean insights. 


4. Make conscious changes

If you think about it, there’s one clear reason (amongst others of course) why trauma is transmitted from one generation to another.

When people stay unconscious of inherited patterns and are unable to access how their own narratives are linked to those of their family, the chances of transmission become higher.

If you get to the point of realizing what didn’t work for them and what of that you inherited as well, you can look at shifting from those patterns and moving into healthier patterns.


5. Accept you won’t be able to change it all

I have always believed I was born into the family I had to be born in. Now whether you are someone who believes in lessons across multiple lives or someone who swears by learn-all-you-can-it’s-just-one-life, one fact remains – you were born into this family and you had no conscious control of it (not that you know of).

So there will be aspects that will have been transmitted as part of your genetic code, aspects of which will never bubble up to your consciousness.

A part of healing is to accept that you went through certain circumstances as did your ancestors but that you now have the power to transform your life. 

As the field of epigenetics grows, it becomes clear that our molecular memory binds us to all those who went before us. With some patience and some compassion towards who we were given birth by and ourselves, we can go a long way in the journey of healing.


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Sunanda Pati
Sunanda Pati is a certified expressive arts therapist and facilitator and a freelance creative writer. Having developed an early interest in psychology and later various forms of bodywork, she has actively worked in knowing her own inner world and processing various traumas. She believes every person is blessed with an endless reserve of inspiration, courage and wisdom. Sunanda lives, writes, practices and facilitates in Bangalore, India. More of her writings can be found at : She also runs an expressive arts initiative of the same name (Gaia Comes to the City), which can be found on Facebook.
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