What is intergenerational trauma?
In its simplest form intergenerational trauma means trauma passed down through the generations. It is habits, beliefs and practices that you learned because of what your parents, grandparents or previous generations experienced before you. They developed certain habits and behaviors to cope with extremely stressful environments.
Though the environment may not be as visibly stressful as it was for previous generations, we still respond in these unconscious way to stress in our lives. Many times these behaviors are maladaptive (meaning they no longer work well for your life) and continue to be experienced by us though we are unsure how to stop.
What does intergenerational trauma look like in my life?
One of the ways I often see intergenerational trauma show up in my clients is this need to work and do more. They literally don’t know how stop and when they are introduced to the idea of needing a break for self-care and healing they immediately encounter feelings of failure or of being lazy and undeserving. They experience a deep internal struggle about why they need to care for themselves.
Being called lazy and undeserving...what does this remind you of?
It should remind you of white supremacy and colonization, all of which we have internalized as a people. We have been exploited for our labor to such a degree that we have internalized the idea that we can never stop working, and that if we desire self-care and healing, that we are lazy and undeserving of even the simplest of healing practices to repair our mind body and spirit. I imagine this is what our ancestors were told when they didn’t want to work for free anymore and wanted their natural rights as full human beings.
This is what intergenerational trauma can look like for many people…
A feeling that they don’t deserve to stop, rest and be well. That they are somehow weak and unfit for needing to take mental and physical breaks to heal their body and mind. These are all internalized concepts of white supremacy and colonization and aid in our own oppression. They are built into the very fabric of our lives and surround us like an invisible cloak. We receive it in all messaging, often on a subliminal level, about our value and worth. That we can’t possibly we worthy of rest and repair because we are inherently unworthy as a people.
Well this is an internalized white supremacist lie.
We are worthy of healing rest and repair. We not only do this for ourselves in this moment but we do it for future generations to break the cycle of trauma ,so they will never experience it in the first place. We do it for our ancestors, to finally give them the rest and repair they deserved then but couldn’t receive but can receive now through our healing.