Grandma with my brother

We’re living in an extraordinary time on our planet: a time of extraordinary groundlessness and also extraordinary possibility. In our 24/7 media culture designed to light up the amygdala’s fear response, it’s easy to only see the world’s tremulous pain right now, and there’s no doubt plenty of it.

But there are also other streams and currents that speak to a consciousness of equality, interconnectivity, and justice that are growing into beautiful swells. I mention this because whenever we’re in transition, either personal or global, we have a potent opportunity to change structures and interrupt patterns, to see the pain in stark relief and the possibilities for growth and healing that live within the pain.

I’m seeing this on all fronts right now, from the world’s pain to the personal pain that comes into my office. The personal pain that I sit across from every day typically shows up as anxiety, intrusive thoughts, shame, worry, and compulsions.

Intergenerational Pain

There are many ways to cope with the pain of life, but for the highly sensitive population who find their way to my work, the underlying pain typically morphs into anxiety. Why? Part of this is genetic and ancestral, and here’s where it’s important to name and note that there’s an element of your wounds that didn’t start with you. When I ask clients if there’s anyone else in their family who struggles with anxiety and shame the answer is always yes. Always.

We’re all descendants of a legacy of beliefs, patterns, and behaviors, which means we carry some pain that isn’t ours. Some of these legacies serve us and many of them don’t.

For example, most of us come from a belief system around emotions that says, “Big feelings should be tamped down. If you’re highly sensitive, you’re ‘too much’ and you have to learn how to ‘buck up, get over it, and move on.'”

This belief system may have served the human race well when our physical survival was more at stake, but it no longer serves us. We must – we absolutely must – for the good of ourselves and the planet, learn how to reclaim our emotional lives, hold them close, and revere them as the guideposts and sources of wisdom that they are.

The Gift of Anxiety and Sensitivity

The result of growing up with this rigid and harsh belief system is that many highly sensitive people aren’t aware that their sensitivity is actually a gift and instead experience it as a burden. As I often talk about, a significant part of the healing path is to learn how to transform the burden of being a lightning rod into the gift of serving as a lighthouse.

One of the first steps is recognizing that some of your anxiety – or other manifestations of pain – didn’t start with you. It lives in your genetic code and the learned responses that you grew up seeing. This isn’t anyone’s fault. Your parents and grandparents were products of generations that had virtually no access to the types of resources and information that help us grow emotional intelligence and responsiveness. As we start to move beyond the blame and anger response, we tap into the awareness that perhaps the burden of the family’s pain may in fact shift into a gift once you learn how to work with it and wield it.

This is how we transmute the burden of high sensitivity into a gift.

This is how the weight of a lightning rod turns into the beacon of a lighthouse.

This is how the baton can shimmer into a wand that then helps us serve others.

The Task is Yours

I know right now that’s not how it feels. I know how weighty it feels when the unlived lives and ungrieved losses of generations who came before you have been funneled down to you. But it wouldn’t have landed on your psyche’s shoulders had you not had some willingness to do your inner work. On some level, even if it’s unconsciously or in a realm that we can’t understand, you signed up for the task.

It’s a special thing to be chosen. Again, I know it doesn’t feel that way right now, but when you learn the tools and mindsets that help you transform the burden of shame into the gift of sensitivity, you start to sense into the specialness that you have been chosen not only to serve your entire family lineage – for every branch on the tree heals when you do the healing – but also the human race at this point in history.

And let me be clear: this isn’t codependency. It’s not, “I’ll heal so that you don’t have to.” It’s much more subtle and nuanced than that. It’s that you’ve been tasked with this calling and you can either ignore the call or you can heed the call and give your conscious consent.

Now is the Time

Now is the time, my friends.

Now is the time to harness the potency of this global transition when external structures are crumbling and veils are being lifted, for it’s in this vulnerable time – and if you’re highly sensitive you can’t escape feeling the vulnerability – that we’re able to see our patterns more clearly and we’re given the strength and motivation to change them.

Fear will always enter the picture when we consider changing and healing – and these voices of resistance need to be addressed – but if we let fear call the shots we miss the opportunity to take the baton, turn it into the wand of creativity and spirituality, and change the course of the intergenerational relay.

I’ll be teaching the deep dive template for healing your pain, shame, and anxiety at the root in my 9-month course, Break Free From Anxiety, which will start again for the 5th round on Sunday, September 9th, 2023. Learn more here. 


Note: You can listen here to a webinar I offered 2021 on intergenerational pain and the most common reasons why people are scared to heal.

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