January 3, 2024 // All
At age thirty-six, I chose to go back to school to become a therapist. My husband and I had two young children at the time, and it was a huge undertaking for our family. But from the moment I met our first child, I knew I wanted to do things differently. I knew I would have to dig deep to heal old wounds and learn new ways of thinking and doing things as a parent. I made that my mission, and then I began working to help other parents who wanted to do the same—parents that wanted to break patterns by choosing to address issues instead of ignoring them, expressing their emotions instead of suppressing them, or taking responsibility for their actions and admitting when they were wrong.
One of the main patterns I wanted to break in my family was financial insecurity. Not just the ability to make money but what to do with it once we made it and how to, ultimately, build a foundation of security. I had no idea where to begin. In my childhood home, we were paycheck to paycheck, and often, the money didn’t last long enough to get everything we needed.
Even something as key as life insurance felt like a thing only the wealthy could afford. If we had only known that life insurance can be a tool for building wealth, we could have begun to find our way through instead of just getting by. But that’s the kicker, isn’t it? We don’t know what we don’t know—and that can really hold us back from breaking cycles and changing patterns.
In my quest to do things differently, I made it my mission to educate myself and learn new tools for moving forward. I can’t help my clients with where to invest or how to become rich. But I can help them acknowledge and understand the patterns they find themselves in. I can help them dig deep to break those cycles and change generational patterns.
So I’d like to share with you five steps to take that may help you on your journey of breaking generational patterns.
1. Core Beliefs: What messages did you receive as a child concerning important topics like relationships, workload division, and finances? To become more aware of your core beliefs in any area, begin to notice your automatic thoughts, pay attention to the themes, then follow them to the underlying belief that supports them.
2. Recognizing the Patterns: Once you’ve noticed the themes of your automatic thoughts, begin to notice the behaviors that accompany and create your patterns around each topic. Many families unknowingly pass on behaviors that have been ingrained over time. Becoming more mindful of your own feelings, thoughts, and behaviors in each area will help you to recognize the patterns that existed in your childhood home and give you the power to change them with your own children.
3. Shifting Your Mindset: Changing generational patterns often starts with transforming your mindset. Adopting a growth-oriented perspective allows us to view our journeys as a continuous learning process. It helps us move forward instead of staying stuck in the past. When we see ourselves as always becoming a new version of ourselves, we realize that we can begin creating new patterns—starting now. We get to choose how we show up in our lives, and who we are is always being created.
4. Curiosity and Compassion: Being stuck in old patterns formed for us instead of by us can be uncomfortable and painful. Often that discomfort and pain can lead to getting stuck in shame and blame. We may feel great shame for how we have shown up in the past and may also want to blame our caretakers for how they showed up. I invite you to exercise curiosity for what you didn’t know and compassion for those who came before you. Find an accepting place in your heart where you offer compassion to yourself and what led to the patterns of dysfunction.
5. Ask For Help: Breaking cycles and building new roads in your family is no easy path. Find tools that make this process easier, and when appropriate, seek professional advice. If you are looking to heal old wounds and build a better dynamic, seek out a great therapist or coach to walk with you. If you are struggling to manage your finances, find a great financial planner. If you are looking to improve the financial health of your family, life insurance can be a valuable tool to help strengthen your financial foundation. It’s been there all along, offering its hand, yet so many of us assumed it was for “them” and not “us.” It is one of the most critical tools in my toolbox, and I suggest you look for people or companies you trust to walk you through the process.
Breaking generational patterns extends beyond personal change—it involves healing old wounds and passing on positive behaviors to the next generation. It requires deep awareness, accountability, and repair. Parents and caregivers play a crucial role in instilling healthy emotional, relational, and financial habits in their children. But what we weren’t taught, we can learn, and that should give you greater peace as you walk this path.