Mark Wolynn | It Didn’t Start With You: Ending The Cycle of Inherited Trauma

Mark Wolynn

Video: Healing Trauma | The “INCUBATOR” Wound In Relationship

“When a trauma happens, it changes us. Literally, it causes a chemical change in our DNA. The best way to say it is we're born into fears, feelings, anxieties, and depressions that aren't ours. We do not enter the world with a clean hard drive; there is an operating system that's already taking place containing the fallout of our parents', grandparents', and maybe even great-grandparents' traumas. We're born in the dark with thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that we can't explain.” – Mark Wolynn

What if your thoughts, reactions, and even just ways of being aren't even yours but just parts of your family's history that you have inherited?

Wellness + Wisdom Podcast Episode 311

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, is North America’s leader in Inherited Family Trauma.

In Wellness + Wisdom episode 311, Mark explains how we are born into the fears and feelings that aren't even our own, how we can begin to understand our trauma language and behavior, how we can break the chain of inherited family trauma for new generations plus his story of making peace with his family's past.

Join Mark and Josh as they explore the latest research on inherited family trauma, chronic pain, and depression.

It Didn't Start With You

Click here to buy your own copy It Didn't Start With You

Mark WolynnA groundbreaking approach to transforming traumatic legacies passed down in families over generations, by an acclaimed expert in the field

Depression. Anxiety. Chronic Pain. Phobias. Obsessive thoughts. The evidence is compelling: the roots of these difficulties may not reside in our immediate life experience or in chemical imbalances in our brains—but in the lives of our parents, grandparents, and even great-grandparents. The latest scientific research, now making headlines, supports what many have long intuited—that traumatic experience can be passed down through generations.

What You Will Learn

It Didn’t Start with You builds on the work of leading experts in post-traumatic stress, including Mount Sinai School of Medicine neuroscientist Rachel Yehuda and psychiatrist Bessel van der Kolk, author of The Body Keeps the Score. Even if the person who suffered the original trauma has died, or the story has been forgotten or silenced, memory and feelings can live on. These emotional legacies are often hidden, encoded in everything from gene expression to everyday language, and they play a far greater role in our emotional and physical health than has ever before been understood.

It Didn't Start With You, Mark Wolynn

Listen To Episode 311 As Mark Wolynn Uncovers:

[1:30] Understanding Our Inherited Family Trauma

[18:00]  Surrendering Yourself To Healing

  • His exercise of exploring different sensations while hugging someone to realize where you are stiff and what emotions you have that you need to let go of. (19:30)
  • Why pain, trauma, and illness can ultimately be our greatest teachers (21:00)
  • How we are born into fears and feelings that aren't even our own.
  • Why certain events that happen in our lives can turn on specific thoughts and emotions passed on through epigenetics.
  • Specific examples of how trauma like war can impact first generations and even further down the line to those of us who haven’t even been born in a war environment. (25:00)

[27:00] The Science Behind Inherited Family Trauma

  • The scientific, logical pathway to trauma that helps us understand why we’ve inherited the trauma that we have today.
  • Why children with a parent that has PTSD are three times more likely to have symptoms of PTSD themselves.
  • The physiology behind inherited family trauma and how thoughts, feelings, and behavior are turned on in our genetics during specific experiences. (28:00)
  • How we develop trauma language and why it can be such an important missing piece for understanding the entire context of why we are the way we are. (29:45)
  • Trauma theory and why our hippocampus and language centers become compromised when a traumatic event happens. (30:40)

[32:00] Pathways To Reconnection

  • Josh’s own early trauma as he was born premature and spent the first days of his life in an incubator.
  • How our mother’s stress when she was pregnant with us can impact and code our DNA before we’re even born.
  • Determining your own trauma language by answering the question, “What’s the worst thing that can happen to you?” (36:30)
  • Common answers to the above question and what your generational language will then be based on your own answer.
  • Studies that have been done on mice to better understand inherited trauma from generation to generation.
  • Cured Nutrition
  • The story of one of his clients, ‘Sarah,’ who suffered from grave inherited trauma from grandparents’ car accident.

[49:30] The Seed That’s Planted For Healing From Trauma

  • How we can break the chain of inherited family trauma for new generations.
  • The impact of positive experiences and environments to stop the repetition of traumatic thoughts, negative emotions, and harmful behaviors.
  • What you can do today to begin to heal from the trauma that you have inherited. (51:00)
  • Questions to ask yourself about your family's inherited family trauma from the past three generations.
  • How to create meaningful experiences that are powerful enough to pull us away from the limbic lockdown in the brain.
  • What mindfulness practices such as meditation and visualization you can do to aid you during moments of stress and anxiety.
  • The Four Unconsciousness Themes and the fact that many of us are experiencing at least two or three of the themes in our daily lives. (56:00)
  • How we are all truly so similar when it comes down to the stress and anxiety that we face every day.
  • Why the attachment to our mothers from birth is so vital for the wellbeing and mental health of the rest of our lives.

[1:01:00] The Core Language of Relationships

  • What it is about the characteristics of our partners that we choose to be with them.
  • How to close the gap and heal our attachment wounds.
  • Why your mother can be the template for your future relationships. (1:01:50)
  • Imago Relationship Therapy
  • Why we tend to choose the partner that will heal our deepest wounds.
  • Practices you can do with your partner to help you heal and come back to yourselves in moments of distress.

Quotes From The Show

“We do not enter the world with a clean hard drive; there is an operating system that's already taking place containing the fallout of inherited generational traumas.” – @MarkWolynn

Uncovering Our Trauma Language

“I find that when a trauma happens, there's something else that goes on; trauma language is left which we also carry with us. Clues after a trauma are left behind in the emotionally charged words and sentences. This leaves behind a bread crumb trail and if we know how to follow it, it'll lead us to the missing piece of the picture that finally gives us context for why we feel, think, and act the way we do.” – Mark Wolynn

Shaking The Family Tree

“We've got to shake the family tree and see what falls out. We have to find out what stories have never been told, what secrets were hidden, and what traumas were never fully healed. Then, we have to do our own healing work, understand how we're reliving those traumas, and what we can do to bring strength and peace to ourselves and future generations.”  – Mark Wolynn

The Residue From Traumatic Events

“Just as we inherit eye color and blood type, we also inherit the residue from traumatic events.” – Mark Wolynn

Links From Today's Show

About Mark Wolynn

Mark Wolynn

Director 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.


About Josh Trent

Josh Trent lives in Austin, Texas with his love Carrie Michelle, son Novah, daughter Nayah + a cat named Cleo. He is the host of the Wellness + Wisdom Podcast and the creator of the BREATHE: Breath + Wellness Program. Josh has spent the past 20+ years as a trainer, researcher + facilitator discovering the physical and emotional intelligence for humans to thrive in our modern world. Helping humans LIBERATE their mental, emotional, physical, spiritual + financial self through podcasts, programs + global community that believe in optimizing our potential to live life well.

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