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What Role Does Your DNA Have on Your Mental Health?

From a purely scientific perspective, we are the sum of many biological functions and the expression of our DNA. Our inherited genes serve as the building blocks of our body, mind, and reality. As a scientific study, genetics has mainly focused on how our DNA influences our physical body. Yet, in recent years, a new area of study has emerged in field, exploring how our DNA influences our mental and emotional states.

DNA and the Origins of Addiction

Most of us understand that our DNA comes from our parents, who inherited the DNA of their parents, who also inherited the DNA of their parents, and so on, and so on. How far back we trace our DNA has not just become an area of study, but also an emerging market, as biotech companies such as 23andMe have made a business out of tracing people’s DNA back in time. As technology improves, scientists will be able to provide more complex genetic maps and more concrete answers about the mysteries held in our DNA.

However, science and its application to daily life is but one facet of the human experience.  We may be more inclined to recognize that something doesn’t need to be proven to exist as an accurate truth.  Just take the planet, for example. It was always round despite the long-held belief that one could walk right over the edge.  Over time, we have awakened to the fact that the world has always has been and always will be a sphere. Many cultures have long considered genetic factors as playing a role in personality, and the science has begun to prove this true.

Similarly, in time I believe more people will come to agree with the understanding that our DNA impacts us on an emotional level as well.  It has been proven that our mental constitution is at least in part derived from our parents. This is in part due to the study of mental illness in relation to heredity. What is a newer area of focus is the energetic imprints of our DNA.  Those sensations and states of emotion that run through us are not solely based on behavioral patterns that impacted us growing up, but rather a result of energy stored in the DNA that has been passed down from our distant ancestors.

Ancient Trauma Revisited?

For those of us who are more sensitive, we may have even been able to feel what happened to our ancestors. I recall talking to my mother as a child, asking questions about an incident that happened to my grandmother. I could actually feel its effects in my body and thought it had perhaps happened to me. As people continue to move toward freeing themselves from painful experiences that are stored in their body, the conversation frequently lends itself to generational trauma.

In the recent years it has become more widely accepted that those who suffer from addiction have unresolved trauma. This trauma may be apparent in the individual’s conscious or buried in their unconscious. As one steps into the body-based practices of healing these experiences, such as EMDR and Somatic Experiencing, fresh insights often occur. At times these insights lend themselves to examining the patterning of our family lineage both on a behavioral and energetic level. What a beautiful thing it is to watch as people begin to understand that not everything that has happened to them is their fault.

Awareness is the first step, and depending on how one relates to the trauma being passed down, there can be a sense of imprisonment or liberation. Imprisonment seeks to hold people hostage to the misunderstanding that their wiring is somehow faulty. It chooses to hide the fact that their DNA is also filled with resilience. It leaves out the parts where your ancestors won.

Liberation will remind you that you are resilient. Liberation will reverberate in perfect cadence with every single empowered moment that your lineage embodied. It will remind you that the small things are the big things and that big doors swing on little hinges. Liberation tells you that each time your ancestors used their voices, your DNA got stronger. Liberation will cheer for you and whisper reminders of the power you hold to restructure your entire nervous system.

A Journey to Recovery Thousands of Years in the Making

It is healthy and important to allow ourselves our authentic journey. Healing is not a linear process and the power that comes from facing it is both brave and beautiful. As one begins to release and integrate back into a more embodied sense of self, they may notice their own resilience manifesting. I wonder what it would be like for people to look at the perseverance that rides through their family and themselves. This is where I invite us all to focus.

Moving through the murky waters of addiction requires a fortitude and strength that comes from deep within. This is in you. This is in your family system. Somewhere it is there. Look for it. It is yours for the taking. And let it become a part of your identification as you make your way through the shadows and the light. You too are empowered, you hold all the times the DNA in you rose above and declared it’s worth.


Images courtesy of iStock

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