Mark Wolynn | How To Heal Generational Trauma: The Thoughts, Feelings, Patterns & Behaviors Formed Before You Were Ever Born

“When a resolution isn't made in a family, then aspects of trauma can show up in later generations. Unconsciously we'll repeat a pattern and will share a similar unhappiness as our parents or grandparents until that trauma finally has a chance to heal.” – Mark Wolynn

Wellness + Wisdom Episode 366

Director of The Family Constellation Institute, The Inherited Trauma Institute and The Hellinger Institute of Northern California, and Author of It Didn't Start with You, Mark Wolynn, returns to share the latest science and cutting edge research on healing generational trauma, how his Bridging Question helps people identify non-verbal trauma language, the map to find your unique core wound, and how to heal a family relationship without doing it in person.

How does inherited family trauma shape who we are?

Discover how you can cultivate awareness and embody the healing necessary to, once and for all, let go of inherited anxiety, pain, fear, and persistent mystery conditions.

'That which we ignore really never goes away. Family trauma that isn't healed submerges in our psyche and soma to reemerge as chronic pain or disease or behaviors we can't explain.' - @MarkWolynn Click To Tweet

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Listen To Episode 366 As Mark Wolynn Uncovers:


[1:30] Exploring Inherited Family Trauma

[14:30] The Bridging Question

  • What the Bridging Question he asks is that helps people with persistent, attached trauma and why it’s a unique question for everyone.
  • How he came up with the Bridging Question that is in his book, It Didn't Start with You, and how people can decipher their unique question to ask about their past.
  • Why your worst fear is actually a nugget of gold as it helps distill your past and heal your body and mind.
  • Unpacking our non-verbal trauma language that shows up in sensations, behaviors, and physical feelings that arise that reflect a situation that’s already happened in the family.
  • How non-verbal trauma language is mirrored in our relationship struggles, who we choose, the type of relationships we have, and even how we view money and success.
  • Why some people manifest inherited family trauma even greater than other people.
  • Why it’s not a bad thing if we keep repeating these cycles because it’s just an invitation for us to further explore them.

[21:00] A Map To Your Unique Core Wound

  • Diving into the map of words that he has in his book, It Didn't Start with You, to help guide you to your unique core wound.
  • The process he went through to write the book in 9 years as he was open to receive, explore, and download this information and experience helping others heal.
  • Why he doesn’t believe we own this information about the human consciousness but it just flows to us when we’re open to receiving it.
  • What guidance Spirit can offer us when we suffer so that we can hold our wisdom in an authentic way like when Mark lost his eyesight.
  • How isolation, mask-wearing, and disconnecting from other people during COVID-19 is creating repercussions of trauma that can be inherited further down the line.
  • How similar events to COVID-19 such as the bubonic plagues, cholera epidemics, Spanish Flu, and diseases that killed Native Americans when Europeans first came to what is now the USA and how that impacted our family lines.
  • The bigger traumas we have to consider such as when a family member dies or when somebody greatly suffers.

[28:30] Proactively Embodying Healing Now During COVID-19

[36:00] Reversing Inherited Family Trauma

[47:00] Healing Your Relationship With A Parent

  • Exercises you can do at home on your own to help you heal a relationship with a parent before working with them on it in real life.
  • The importance of attunement beginning in the uterus and how to make that bond stronger throughout your life with compassion.
  • What to do if a family member is refusing to work with you to heal your broken relationship.
  • How we can do the work to heal the relationship without taking it so personally but looking beyond at your parent's history.
  • What significant health issues can happen if you have a broken relationship with a parent.
  • Inner work practices to decipher whether what you're feeling is true or how to take advice from other people.
  • What it means to actually do the work for the right vs wrong reasons.
  • How to feel the sensations of the inner practice both physically and viscerally instead of attaching ourselves to the outcome of the work.
  • What he did to actually heal his own vision by healing his relationship with his mom.

[1:00:00] The Language We Create When Trauma Happens

  • Exploring the biology and psychology of specific language used to heal trauma.
  • How trauma language can be either verbal or even non-verbal.
  • Why we have to think about what happened right before the trauma began to be felt to help us explore the biological and psychological impact of language.
  • His mission to pass on his knowledge not only to his students but to the world in his book, It Didn't Start with You.
  • Why the only way to be inclusive as a community is to include the ugly parts inside us that we've excluded.
  • How our inhumanity towards others is a mirror of the inhumanity we have towards ourselves.
  • The importance of letting go of our inherited family trauma to find peace and clarity on what our life purpose is along this wellness journey.
  • Why living life well means giving ourselves the self-care of inner work.

Power Quotes From The Show

'What anchors these generational traumas? When the traumas aren't talked about, when the healing isn't complete, when the pain, grief, shame, and embarrassment is so great that people can't look at it.' - @MarkWolynn Click To Tweet

The Bridging Question

“The Bridging Question is a tool to help us get to our symptom picture, how we're suffering, and to see if it's connected in the family history. This helps us look at our worst fear and decipher if it actually comes from inherited generational trauma or not. It's a way to outline and distill down to this nugget of gold because it's one of those questions that when we get to the answer, our body starts to reverberate. If someone's greatest fear is that they will harm a child and they ask themselves the question, ‘Have I ever harmed a child?', and the answer is, ‘no.' Then you ask yourself the bridging question, ‘Has anyone in my family ever harmed a child?' The answer to that Bridging Question and how you feel after asking yourself it will help you down the path of healing.”  – Mark Wolynn

Verbal vs Nonverbal Generational Trauma Language

“The language such as that in the Bridging Question that we ask to follow and understand our family history doesn't have to be verbal. What I've discovered is there's ‘verbal trauma language' and then there's ‘nonverbal trauma language.' When a trauma language is verbal, that's when we say to ourselves, ‘I'll be abandoned,' or ‘I'll be left behind,' but when it's nonverbal, we have to look for the events in our family history. The physical, the emotional symptoms that show up after something unsettling that happens to us. We look for the fears or anxieties that strike suddenly when we reach a particular age. Often it's the same age as when something happened in the family history.” – Mark Wolynn

What Anchors Generational Traumas?

“Why do these traumas repeat themselves later on in generations? It goes beyond just epigenetics. We know from embryology that when our grandmother was five months pregnant with our mother that all the eggs that our mother would ever have were already implanted in our mother's womb when she's a fetus; one of which is us. So, there's this shared biological environment and when we combine it with how a mother's emotions are chemically communicated to the fetus through the placenta, this can biochemically alter the genetic expression. There are other factors but to answer the question directly – What anchors these generational traumas? When the traumas aren't talked about, when the healing isn't complete, when the pain, grief, shame, and embarrassment is so great that people can't look at it.” – Mark Wolynn

Links From Today's Show 

About Mark Wolynn

Mark Wolynn | How To Heal Generational Trauma: The Thoughts, Feelings, Patterns & Behaviors Formed Before You Were Ever BornDirector of The Family Constellation Institute, The Inherited Trauma Institute and The Hellinger Institute of Northern California, Mark Wolynn is North America’s leader in Inherited Family Trauma. A sought-after lecturer, he leads workshops at hospitals, clinics, conferences, and teaching centers around the world. He has taught at the University of Pittsburgh, the Western Psychiatric Institute, Kripalu, The New York Open Center, The Omega Institute, The California Institute of Integral Studies.

Behind It Didn't Start With You

His book IT DIDN’T START WITH YOU: How Inherited Family Trauma Shapes Who We Are and How to End the Cycle (Viking/Penguin) is the winner of the 2016 Silver Nautilus Book Award in psychology. Mark specializes in working with depression, anxiety, obsessive thoughts, fears, panic disorders, self-injury, chronic pain, and persistent symptoms and conditions.

Mark is a Summa Cum Laude graduate in English and Psychology from the University of Pittsburgh. His graduate work at the University of Pittsburgh and at the University of Arizona was also in English. Mark has published poetry in The New Yorker.

Healing Trauma | The “INCUBATOR” Wound In Relationship


About Josh Trent

Josh Trent lives in Austin, Texas with his love Carrie Michelle, son Novah, and a cat named Cleo. He is the Founder of Wellness Force Media, host of the Wellness + Wisdom Podcast and the creator of the BREATHE: Breath & Wellness Program. Josh has spent the past 19+ years as a trainer, researcher, and facilitator discovering the physical and emotional intelligence for humans to thrive in our modern world. The Wellness Force Media Mission is to help humans heal mental, emotional, and physical health through podcasts, programs, and a global community that believes in optimizing our potential to live life well.

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