“It Didn’t Start with You” is a book written by Mark Wolynn, a leading expert in the field of inherited family trauma. The book explores the concept of how unresolved traumas and patterns from previous generations can affect our lives and relationships in the present.

In the book, Wolynn delves into the idea that traumatic experiences, such as war, immigration, early death, and other significant events, can leave a lasting impact on subsequent generations. He presents research, case studies, and personal anecdotes to demonstrate how these unresolved traumas can manifest as emotional and physical symptoms, relationship difficulties, and self-sabotaging patterns.

Wolynn introduces various therapeutic techniques and exercises to help readers identify and heal inherited family traumas. He offers insights into the importance of acknowledging and addressing these generational patterns in order to break free from their influence and live more fulfilling lives.

(#Ad) “It Didn’t Start with You” provides a unique perspective on the intergenerational transmission of trauma and offers guidance for individuals seeking to understand and overcome the inherited burdens they may carry. It aims to empower readers to transform their lives by breaking the cycle of inherited family trauma and creating a path towards healing and wholeness.

Here are some key concepts discussed in the book:

  1. Inherited Family Trauma: The book explores the notion that unresolved traumas, such as war, violence, loss, or abuse, experienced by our ancestors can leave a lasting impact on subsequent generations.
  2. Epigenetics: The field of epigenetics suggests that environmental factors can influence gene expression, potentially transmitting the effects of trauma across generations.
  3. Family Systems: The book examines how family systems and dynamics play a role in transmitting and perpetuating trauma within a lineage.
  4. Unconscious Patterns: It explores how unconscious patterns and behaviors, often rooted in inherited trauma, can shape our relationships, emotions, and overall life experiences.
  5. Trauma Healing: The author offers insights and techniques for identifying and healing inherited trauma, emphasizing the importance of self-awareness, compassion, and forgiveness.
  6. Ancestral Resilience: Alongside the exploration of trauma, the book also highlights the resilience and strengths that can be inherited from previous generations.
  7. Transgenerational Healing: The book emphasizes the power of breaking the cycle of inherited trauma through understanding, awareness, and intentional healing practices.
  8. Family Constellations: The author explores the concept of family constellations, a therapeutic approach that aims to bring awareness to underlying family dynamics and unresolved traumas.
  9. Personal Narratives: The book shares personal stories and case studies to illustrate how inherited trauma can manifest and be transformed through healing processes.
  10. Intergenerational Patterns: It discusses the repetition of patterns across generations and how understanding these patterns can facilitate healing and growth.


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Top 44 Best Quotes from “It Didn’t Start with You”

“the Bible, in Numbers 14:18, appears to corroborate the claims of modern science—or vice versa—that the sins, iniquities, or consequences (depending on which translation you read) of the parents can affect the children up to the third and fourth generations. Specifically, the New Living Translation states: “The LORD is slow to anger and filled with unfailing love, forgiving every kind of sin and rebellion. But he does not excuse the guilty. He lays the sins of the parents upon their children; the entire family is affected—even children in the third and fourth generations.” ― Mark Wolynn

“When we feel positive toward our parents, we tend to feel positive about life, and trust that good things will continue to come our way.” ― Mark Wolynn

“It’s important to restate: not all behaviors expressed by us actually originate from us. They can easily belong to family members who came before us. We can merely be carrying the feelings for them or sharing them. We call these “identification feelings.” ― Mark Wolynn

“Brain scans demonstrate that many of the same neurons and regions of the brain become activated whether we’re imagining an event or actually living it.” ― Mark Wolynn

“When family members lead unhappy lives or suffer an extremely difficult fate, it’s often easier to reject them than to feel the pain of loving them. Anger is often an easier emotion to feel than sadness.” ― Mark Wolynn

“Children with a parent who was traumatized during the Cambodian genocide, for example, tend to suffer from depression and anxiety. Similarly, children of Australian Vietnam War veterans have higher rates of suicide than the general population.” ― Mark Wolynn

“Epigenetic changes are the chemical modifications that occur in our cells as a result of a traumatic event.” ― Mark Wolynn

“Epigenetics is the study of heritable changes in gene function that occur without a change in the sequence of the DNA.”― Mark Wolynn

“The emotions, traits, and behaviors we reject in our parents will likely live on in us. It’s our unconscious way of loving them, a way to bring them back into our lives.” ― Mark Wolynn

“What I failed to realize at the time is that when we try to resist feeling something painful, we often protract the very pain we’re trying to avoid.” ― Mark Wolynn

“In many ways, healing from trauma is akin to creating a poem. Both require the right timing, the right words, and the right image. When these elements align, something meaningful is set into motion that can be felt in the body. To heal, our pacing must be in tune. If we arrive too quickly at an image, it might not take root. If the words that comfort us arrive too early, we might not be ready to take them in. If the words aren’t precise, we might not hear them or resonate with them at all.” ― Mark Wolynn

“A child who takes care of a parent often forges a lifelong pattern of overextension and creates a blueprint for habitually feeling overwhelmed.” ― Mark Wolynn

“our parents are the gateway to the hidden strengths and creative forces, as well as the challenges, that are also part of our ancestral legacy. Whether they’re dead or alive, whether we’re distant from them or our relationship is amicable, our parents—and the traumas they’ve experienced or inherited—hold a key to our healing.” ― Mark Wolynn

“Sometimes, the heart must break in order to open.” ― Mark Wolynn


“As small children, we develop our sense of self gradually. Back then, we had not learned how to be separate from our parents and be connected to them at the same time. In this innocent place, perhaps we imagined that we could alleviate their unhappiness by fixing or sharing it. If we too carried it, they wouldn’t have to carry it alone. But this is fantasized thinking, and it only leads to more unhappiness.” ― Mark Wolynn

“Ignoring the pain actually deepens it. What is hidden from sight often increases in intensity.” ― Mark Wolynn

“The words we use to describe our worries and struggles can say more than we realize” ― Mark Wolynn

“When an inner situation is not made conscious, it happens outside as fate. —Carl Jung, Aion: Researches into the Phenomenology of the Self” ― Mark Wolynn,

“The most powerful ties are the ones to the people who gave us birth . . . it hardly seems to matter how many years have passed, how many betrayals there may have been, how much misery in the family: We remain connected, even against our wills. —Anthony Brandt, “Bloodlines” ― Mark Wolynn

“By developing a relationship with the painful parts of ourselves—parts we have often inherited from our family—we have an opportunity to shift them. Qualities like cruelty can become the source of our kindness; our judgments can forge the foundation of our compassion.” ― Mark Wolyn

“What I failed to realize at the time is that when we try to resist feeling something painful, we often protract the very pain we’re trying to avoid. Doing so is a prescription for continued suffering. There’s also something about the action of searching that blocks us from what we seek. The constant looking outside of ourselves can keep us from knowing when we hit the target. Something valuable can be going on inside us, but if we’re not tuning in, we can miss it.”

“Remaining silent about family pain is rarely an effective strategy for healing it. The suffering will surface again at a later time, often expressing in the fears or symptoms of a later generation.” ― Mark Wolynn

“As the adage goes, history is written by the victors, penned by those who remain to tell it. No matter how skewed or one-sided the story, many of us rarely think to question what that story would look like if told by the other side.” ― Mark Wolynn

“Even when we care for ill or elderly parents, providing what they cannot do for themselves, it is important to preserve and respect the integrity of the parent-child relationship, rather than diminish our parents’ dignity.” ― Mark Wolynn

“When we cut ourselves off from our parents, the qualities we view as negative in them can express in us unconsciously.” ― Mark Wolynn

“Sleeping inside each of them were fragments of traumas too great to be resolved in one generation.” ― Mark Wolynn

“If you look deeply into the palm of your hand, you will see your parents and all generations of your ancestors. All of them are alive in this moment. Each is present in your body. You are the continuation of each of these people. —Thich Nhat Hanh, A Lifetime of Peace” ― Mark Wolynn

“one thing is clear: life sends us forward with something unresolved from the past.” ― Mark Wolynn

“When entangled, you unconsciously carry the feelings, symptoms, behaviors, or hardships of an earlier member of your family system as if these were your own.” ― Mark Wolynn

“The great teachers know. The truly great ones don’t care whether you believe in their teachings or not. They present a truth, then leave you with yourself to discover your own truth. Adam Gopnik” ― Mark Wolynn

“Everything that happens to us has merit, whether we recognize the surface significance of it or not.” ― Mark Wolynn



“This particular study suggests that even if humans receive supportive parenting as infants, we are still the recipients of the stress our parents experienced before we were conceived.” ― Mark Wolynn

“Perhaps your mother carried a wound from her mother and was unable to give you what she didn’t get. Her parenting skills would be limited by what she did not receive from her parents.” ― Mark Wolynn

“The greater truth would be that the love you longed for was not available for your mother to give.” ― Mark Wolynn

“Cutting off can make you feel free at first, but it’s the false freedom of a childhood defense. Ultimately, it will limit your life experience.” ― Mark Wolynn

“Younger children often, though not always, seem to do a bit better than first children, or only children, who seem to carry a bigger portion of unfinished business from the family history.” ― Mark Wolynn

“As psychologist Annie Rogers says, “The unconscious insists, repeats, and practically breaks down the door, to be heard. The only way to hear it, to invite it into the room, is to stop imposing something over it—mostly in the form of your own ideas—and listen instead for the unsayable, which is everywhere, in speech, in enactments, in dreams, and in the body.” ― Mark Wolynn

“Until we uncover the actual triggering event in our family history, we can relive fears and feelings that don’t belong to us—unconscious fragments of a trauma—and we will think they’re ours.” ― Mark Wolynn

“Norman Doidge alludes to in his breakthrough book The Brain That Changes Itself when he writes: “Psychotherapy is often about turning our ghosts into ancestors.” ― Mark Wolynn,

“When suffering confounds us, we need to ask ourselves: whose feelings am I actually living?” ― Mark Wolynn

“There is often sadness hibernating beneath your angry words. The sadness won’t kill you. The anger actually might.” ― Mark Wolynn

“When it comes to siblings and inherited family trauma, there are no hard and fast rules governing how each child is affected. Many variables, in addition to birth order and gender, can influence the choices siblings make and the lives they lead.” ― Mark Wolynn

“Even children born of the same parents, in the same family home, who share a similar upbringing, are likely to inherit different traumas and experience different fates. For example, the firstborn son is likely to carry what remains unresolved with the father, and the firstborn daughter is likely to carry what remains unresolved with the mother, though this is not always the case. The reverse can also be true. Later children in the family are likely to carry different aspects of their parents’ traumas, or elements of the grandparents’ traumas.” ― Mark Wolynn

“Viewed in this way, the traumas we inherit or experience firsthand can not only create a legacy of distress, but also forge a legacy of strength and resilience that can be felt for generations to come.” ― Mark Wolynn


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