Image by Henryk Niestrój 

If I know one thing for sure, it’s that patterns don’t break on their own. When something is stuck in a repetitive rhythm, the path of least resistance is to keep on keepin’ on. But, the path of least resistance does not lead to a radiant life.

We are living, breathing, dynamic creatures, and for us, change is not only inevitable—it is essential. In the realms of ancestral trauma, legacy burdens, and epigenetics, diverting the cycle toward a new experience happens in much the same way. It’s excruciat­ingly simple, though not so easy: Do things differently. If you want change within your Self, your family, or your ancestral line, you have to be the change.

Why Break Family Patterns?

The experience of a pattern breaker isn’t always glamor­ous, enjoyable, or even comfortable. As many of us under­stand from firsthand experience or that of others, change can be really challenging. Especially when maneuvering the deep change inherent in shifting the patterns of legacy burdens, it is common to encounter resistance.

The family system itself may not hop joyfully on board with the changes you’re trying to create. This proved true in my experience with Simon. Some of my family members were so intricately invested in their avoidance of the pain that could be uncov­ered by my looking closely enough at a pattern to change it that my choice to shift the pattern was intolerable to them.

Why then, if it causes such drama in a family system, would and should we break patterns? Because when you divert an unhealthy pattern that has been agonizingly alive for years, decades, or generations, you set the entire lineage free— backward and forward from yourself.

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Being the Family Pattern Breaker

Spiritually speaking, it is my honest belief that your ancestors wait with bated breath for someone courageous enough to come along in your family line who will stand tall against the injustices, secrets, obligations, and unhealthy patterns of your lineage and do things differently. Your ancestors do not want the pain and suffering for you that generations of people endured and perpetuated before you, and they certainly do not want the same for your children and your children’s children. In all likelihood they didn’t want anyone in the family to suffer at all, they just didn’t have the resources, skills, and strength to become a pattern breaker themselves.

When you make a shift to the way you think and behave, the changes you make hold potential to break patterns and shift the direction of your lineage and also to heal your own physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual bodies. Working epigenetically and with legacy burdens is immensely healing on all of these dimensions because a great deal of psycho-emotional energy is stored within the physical body.

Breaking A Family Pattern of Violence

When Jordan, a third-generation victim of child abuse, decided to break his familial pattern of violence toward children, he learned to unleash his pain in a kickboxing class instead of on his daughter. In so doing, Jordan’s physical body, along with his mental and spiritual systems, began to regulate their cadence differently than those of the men who came before him. Because of this, Jordan’s daughter did not experience firsthand abuse from her parent as Jordan did, and thus became much less likely to experience the partic­ular hardships her father endured, and his father, and his father before him.

Jordan’s daughter undoubtedly encoun­tered different kinds of hardship in her life, but they were not the same unhealthy dynamics that polluted the genera­tions before her. Perhaps best of all, when Jordan’s daughter had a child of her own, Jordan’s grandchild was more likely to avoid such trauma as well because Jordan diverted it two generations prior.

Your Turn, Your Choice

Offering: Now it’s your turn. Consider what you are going to shift for the generations still yet to come in your lineage. Write out your ideas, intentions, and plans in your journal. If you are in a partnership, explore with your partner the different ways you can structure your family system to support the changes you plan to make.

Never underestimate the power you hold within your Self to shift, change, and rewrite the story of your ancestry. It only takes the intentional, courageous act of doing things differently, and everything can change for the better. Just start.

Start where you are, with what you have, and go from there. It’s okay if your efforts take repetition to stick. As brilliantly stated by Mark Nepo in The Book of Awakening, “Repetition is not failure. Ask the waves, ask the leaves, ask the wind.”

Copyright 2023. All Rights Reserved.
Adapted with permission of the publisher.

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