“It’s not you, it’s me.”

You’ve probably heard this phrase at least once in your life before. Possibly you heard it on a TV show or it could have popped up during a movie. Or maybe one of your friends or classmates said it when you were younger.

This “it’s not you, it’s me” phrase is typically said during a breakup. It’s said by the person that is initiating the breakup. There’s this idea that placing the blame on yourself will help to make the person you’re breaking up with feel better, even if they’re left completely blinded and brokenhearted.

But ” there really are some things that are out of our control in life. You aren’t always the problem or the cause, no matter how much it may feel like you are.

This is kind of how inherited family trauma is. Like most trauma, it’s not you, it actually may be your family.

Let’s learn more about inherited family trauma.

What is Inherited Family Trauma?

Any trauma that is passed down between different generations within a family is known as inherited family trauma. Inherited family trauma is usually passed down unconsciously by a parent to their child or children. The parent was likely exposed to the trauma by one of their own parents. Inherited family trauma is usually passed down without any intention. It can be a vicious cycle.

The Signs

So you’re probably wondering, what exactly does inherited family trauma look like? These are a few of the different signs to look out for when it comes to inherited family trauma:

  • Anger
  • Disconnected from others
  • Emotionally numb
  • Fear
  • Grief
  • Hyperalert
  • Irritability
  • Isolation
  • Lack of trust in others
  • Loss of memory
  • Nightmares
  • Substance abuse
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Withdrawal

The Cause

Inheriting a family trauma is very similar to inheriting traits from your parents. Your parents can pass down physical traits like their eye color, hair color, blood type, and even trauma.

Addiction, child abuse, domestic violence, or war-related trauma are just a few examples of inherited trauma that may be passed down in a family.

Mental health issues like anxiety, depression, fear, financial stress, and unhappy relationships can also be passed down within a family.

How to Deal With Inherited Family Trauma

Inherited family trauma isn’t something that has to continue. This may seem like too big of a burden to deal with, but there are things that you can do to try to break the cycle.

Talk to Your Family

Try to get to the bottom of the unresolved issues you may have in your family. Take the necessary steps to reconcile any negative relationships.

Be Open

If you’re trying to be the person where the inherited family trauma stops, you need to be able to be open and honest with your own family about everything. Talk to your partner and your children about the trauma in your family, and encourage them to express their own opinions and concerns.

Seek Additional Support

It’s important to seek help as soon as you can if you or a loved one is struggling with substance use, abuse, or addiction. Substances like drugs and alcohol are only a temporary fix for the larger issue at hand.

Another great option to look into for additional support is therapy. An outside third party like a licensed and trained mental health professional can provide you with a new and fresh perspective on your family that you may not have considered.

If you want to learn more about inherited family trauma for you or a loved one, reach out today to set up a consultation for trauma therapy.

About the author(s)

Karen is the founder and Clinical Director of Cohesive Therapy NYC. She earned a Masters in Social Work from New York University and has extensive training in Hypnosis, Anxiety, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Brainspotting, and DGBI. She is a member of the Institute of Certified Anxiety Treatment Professionals, The Rome Foundation, the National Association of Social Workers, The Crohn's and Colitis Foundation, and the American Social of Clinical Hypnosis.

About Cohesive Therapy NYC

At Cohesive Therapy NYC, we believe that you have an immense amount of inner strength and resilience, even if it is yet to be discovered. Cohesive Therapy NYC is a private group psychotherapy practice in New York City that focuses on treating adults who struggle with Anxiety, Trauma, Chronic Illness, and the adult impact of Childhood Emotional Neglect (CEN). Cohesive Therapy NYC therapists see clients all throughout New York State (Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, Bronx, Staten Island, Westchester, and statewide) using online therapy and are also available for in-person visits in their NYC offices, located at 59 East 54th Street, New York, NY 10022. We specialize in helping people who are dealing with anxiety, relationship issues, chronic illness, and digestive and adult trauma related to childhood family dynamics. We all deserve a chance to be well and have support.