You know that you get your eyes from your grandmother and your smile from your father, but did you know that you might also be able to inherit your ancestors’ experiences? Researchers are now looking into the unseen ways the major life events our parents and our grandparents lived through could be passed down to us in unexpected ways. And knowing this can help us live better lives now!
This field of study could turn the study of trauma upside down, and be the remedy that so many of us need when we find ourselves struggling to understand ourselves and live happier, more fulfilling lives! Let’s dive into some of this remarkable work and learn how almonds, a famine in the Netherlands, and oxytocin (the “love hormone”) are helping us to unravel the mysteries of ourselves a little more.
A new understanding of inheritance.
While it may be easy for us to realize that drinking coffee too late in the day affects our sleep, and that not getting enough of that sleep impacts our mood, there are times when we are at a loss for an explanation of our behavior. And, while psychology and therapy can be helpful, what if we could better understand the hidden root causes of some of these problems?
This is where the field of epigenetics, and researchers like Dr. Bianca Jones Marlin step in. Epigenetics is a field of research that looks at the way traits can be inherited that do not involve changes in our DNA. Very often, this means trying to understand how a person’s life circumstances turn on and off certain types of genes and how that can be passed onto the next generation. 1 This way of looking at the complexity of who we are really starts to confuse our understanding of the old nature vs. nurture debate.
Dr. Bianca Jones Marlin’s work, though, is helping us better understand this dynamic view of ourselves and our behavior. Her work looks at the ways in which trauma can be passed down to the next generation, so we can hope to understand, and perhaps even modify, the gene switches that happen and get passed down to children.
Here’s more about Dr. Marlin’s extraordinary work and the ways in which it could help us all start living brighter lives!
If you are looking for some great science content, I highly suggest you check out SciFri. They put out some incredible content about the latest scientific discoveries in all kinds of fields!
Dr. Marlin’s work is, of course, ongoing. So if you’d like to check in with the latest about her, check out her website for more!
What happens when we become more self-aware!
How does knowing that we can inherit the trauma of our ancestors leave us with a more positive outlook on the world?
For thousands of years, our biology has kept us safe and helped us prepare for the problems we may face. In some cases, though, that preparation may be getting in the way of us living happy, and fulfilling lives in a modern era.
This is good news! Why? Because it means that the burden of whatever we’ve inherited isn’t all on us, but it is on us to deal with it. Knowing how past traumas in our lineages may impact us empowers us to become more self-aware. Right now, that’s the first step we need to take to care for ourselves, both mentally and physically.
Want to keep exploring this topic?
I recommend checking out It Didn’t Start With You, and The Body Keeps Score! These books (and working with a licensed professional therapist, counselor, or psychologist) are a great place to get started if you find yourself struggling with your mental health and want to take a deeper dive into self-awareness.
It’s truly remarkable that we are in an era that allows us to understand ourselves at such a deep level.
Imagine how we could help young people struggling with a history of family trauma if we could offer them greater insights from research into this inheritance! How could we change the lives of so many people and change the course of generations with this research?
Life will always be complex, but if we can understand our own selves better, we can handle that complexity in empowering ways!
What are you doing today to make the world better for tomorrow? Who could you thank in your family tree for the kind of resilience that has brought you here? Take a few moments to reflect on yourself, where you come from, and where you want the next generation to go.
Stay beautiful & keep laughing!
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- “Epigenetics: Fundamentals, History, and Examples | What Is Epigenetics?” What Is Epigenetics?, 2017, www.whatisepigenetics.com/fundamentals/. Accessed 20 Oct. 2020 ↩
- SciFri. “Breakthrough: The Trauma Tracer.” YouTube, 2 Oct. 2020, www.youtube.com/watch?v=pBkVx12yc2M&feature=emb_title. Accessed 19 Oct. 2020. ↩