What It Means To Be The “Cycle Breaker” In Your Family

In the last five to ten years, more people are realizing how our childhood impacts us as adults. Our home environment, our day to day life, our parents, our family, our culture, our beliefs, and our world experiences during childhood all play a role in who we become as an adult. Many of us are seeing how we inherited trauma, poor boundaries, and so much more from how we were raised. A cycle breaker is a person who questions their family dynamics, boundaries, and relationships and recognizes how trauma has carried on through many family generations. All of that leading to the things we struggle with today, like our self-worth, codependent behaviors,
unhealthy boundaries, and not knowing how to regulate or express our emotions. Here are a few areas that cycle breakers look at:

How our parents were raised. When we look at what it was like for our parents to grow up, we can learn a lot about how they became the person who raised us. If our parents were raised in an unpredictable environment, or one where their safety was at risk, it’s likely that they raised us with that same mindset. If conflict was avoided throughout our parent’s childhood, it’s likely they did the same for us and we now do the same in our adult relationships. Unless our parents decided to be the cycle breaker in their family, we most likely inherited the same behaviors they did when they were children.

Transgenerational trauma. When our parents, grandparents, and even great-grandparents experienced some type of trauma, this impacts them as a human, which then impacts how they raise their children. Trauma experienced could be racial, inconsistent caregivers, unsafe home environment, any type of abuse or assault, or even moving around often during childhood. Our nervous systems became out of balance when we experience trauma, which leaves us in survival mode. If we raise children while we’re in survival mode, we’re passing that trauma, and the related behaviors, to our children. This will continue throughout each generation until someone decides to look at what’s happened in their family and takes strides to heal from that trauma.

Cultural beliefs. Our culture plays a major role in how we were raised, our worldview, our beliefs, and how we interact with other people in the world. There are times when cultural norms or beliefs feel limiting, unhealthy, or not in alignment with your values. This is okay! Most of us grow up not questioning anything about what we’re told is truth in the world. But when we become adults, it’s much easier to see a wider worldview and start to question if the things we grew up still hold true for us now.

On your journey to ending generational family cycles, you may face a lot of push back from family and friends. This is okay. Family dynamics that endure decades will be difficult to break and some family members may not be willing or ready to do the work you are. It’s important to feel compassion for our parents because at the end of the day, they were doing the best they could with what they had.

Work With An Experienced Therapist.