Emotional DNA and Interactive Genealogy: What it is & Why it Matters
Traditional genealogy can tell you where you came from and to whom you are linked. With the evolution of DNA saliva tests, you came to understand why you may look the way you do, discovered how to find your ancestors, and began to connect with people related to you who once were strangers. But when we bring together genealogy and emotional DNA–inherited patterns of thoughts, feelings, and actions, including generational trauma patterns—a whole new world of personal information opens up for you.
Can you inherit heroism?
Most of us harbor secret hopes that our ancestors were incredible heroes or important figures in history. But what if you’re not directly descended from somebody famous? Does that mean you’re out of luck knowing whether you inherited any of those hero genes? Not at all! It’s actually possible to tell if someone in your family lineage was a hero.
How can that be? Well, just ask yourself a simple question: “How do I act, think, and feel in my own life?” Now tune in and think about it. Do you find yourself always standing up for the underdog? Are you unafraid to question authority? Have you surprised yourself by taking crazy dares now and then without a thought to your personal safety? If so, you probably have quite a few heroes quietly stashed away in your family line!
How is this possible? Well, we all know that we inherit our physical DNA. But studies in epigenetics now show that significant events in a person’s life can create an impact on their DNA. Strong emotions in an ancestor’s life such as extraordinary bravery, determination in the face adversity, courage overcoming terrible fear—these emotions quite literally imprint that person’s DNA, creating a blueprint for behavioral patterns that is then passed down to successive generations. These epigenetic inheritance patterns of thoughts, feelings, and actions are what we refer to as our emotional DNA.
So, what else does this mean? It means that your depression, anger, happiness, success, failure, issues with money and fear of commitment (and a lot of other issues and family behavior patterns) may well have their roots in prior generations. Stuff you’re experiencing that’s tripping you up in life may not belong to you at all! But it may be asking you to notice it.
Generational patterns can be changed
And yet most people don’t know this. Instead, we go along through life repeating generational patterns faithfully as though they were our own. My client “Rita” is a perfect example.
Rita was embarrassed to admit it, but she always had to have a fully stocked pantry—and then some. Anything less than several overflowing closets filled with food created extreme anxiety and distress for her, and she couldn’t understand why. Paradoxically, Rita is pretty wealthy and can buy whatever she wants, whenever she wants. When I pressed her on the subject, she kept saying, “You never know what might happen. I could lose it all in an instant. If I don’t have food stores, I might not be able to survive.”
When we looked at her family history, two generations had met with economic downturns and food shortages. Her great-great-great grandparents fled Ireland escaping the Irish Potato Famine. Her grandmother’s parents, once well-to-do, were impoverished during the Great Depression. She remembered hearing her grandmother tell her to always make sure she had enough food and money to last at least six months if not a year or more!
Again, even though Rita was well off and had a solid nest egg, she embodied the extreme trauma of starvation and loss carried in her emotional DNA from two different sets of family experiences—and possibly more going even further back in her genealogical history. On top of that, she carried the memory of her grandmother’s advice and the words of her own mother, constantly advising her to “Waste not, want not” and how she should always “Be prepared.”
“The idea of even wasting a penny just freaks me out,” Rita said. “It keeps me working long hours with my nose to the grindstone. I can’t even enjoy the success I’ve created.”
Honoring family patterns and moving on
When Rita finally got that her penny-pinching and food hoarding obsessions weren’t really hers, the lightbulb switched on. She realized it was up to her to break the generational poverty mindset. She was the person in her family who was being invited to change old negative family patterns and create something new.
When she took the next step and realized that her grandmother and mother had pinched pennies so that she didn’t have to, that gave her pause for thought. She remembered how her grandmother used to say she wished she could take her kids and grandkids on trips and have adventures. At that point, she realized that she could give her grandmother and mother a legacy by doing what they could not. She could stock one pantry in peace and take the time off to take her own children on family vacations.
Rita was breaking generational cycles by setting down the family limitations, embracing her mother’s and grandmother’s dreams as well as her own hopes and desires, setting new patterns of adventure and abundance into motion with a happy heart.