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The Kindred Press

Shame, Trauma & Family History

I’ve been reading the book “It Didn’t Start With You” by Mark Wolynn which talks about the cycles of inherited family trauma. In it he describes a study that found that trauma changes our DNA and can be carried through our ancestral lines for up to 14 generations. And the thing that breaks these cycles of trauma is for one person to consciously step out of them. To do the painful work of doing their own healing, and, in turn, healing their families both past and future. It is hard and painful work, but, as it states in the book, “Sometimes, the heart must break in order to open.”

Last week I shared about how I am trying to understand and cope with complicated stories from my family’s history. I wanted to share with you some of the recourses I am using to find healing for myself (and in turn my children) and the steps I am taking to try and change those narratives. I think the most important first step is to recognize the issues our ancestors faced, participated in or caused. It is difficult to take a critical look at the hardships, mistakes, misdeeds and injustices our families faced or perpetuated. But, it allows us to more fully recognize fears, patterns, biases and trauma we may have inherited from them. It also gives us the gift of being informed so we can make better choices and teach our children better ways. Some common themes I’ve seen in my history which I am currently working to heal from and to change are trauma, shame and racism. Today I wanted to share some of my favorite resources (listed below) for becoming more resilient to shame and healing from trauma in case this is something that might resonate with or be interesting to any of you. I’ll be sharing how I am working to confront my own biases and making a conscious effort to become a better advocate for anti-racism as well in the next few days.

Are you working to overcome family patterns or trauma or have you recognized those in your own family? I want to hear your thoughts, experiences and resources as well. 💛


Here are some of the resources I found helpful in my journey of understanding and healing from shame and trauma both in my own life and in my family history.

My Own Journey
I shared more about my journey finding healing through family history in this video originally shared on Season For Family.
Watch it now
It Didn't Start With You
"How inherited family trauma shapes who we are and how to end the cycle" by Mark Wolynn. I loved this book and learned so much about how learning about our inherited trauma matters.
Find on Amazon
Finding Peace
A fantastic workbook I used in a therapy setting that helped me identify my own shame and trauma and learn how to change my internal dialogue. It also gave me an awareness of the trauma from my own family history.
Find on Amazon
The Gifts of Imperfection
Brene Brown has done incredible research on shame, the affect it has on us and how we can become more resilient to shame. All of her books, TED talks and blogs are worth reading. This is the one I started with and I highly recommend it!
Find on Amazon