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Episode 127 Transcript: The Influence of Inherited Family Trauma with Johanna Lynn

Johanna: So we’re sort of looking at four generations across the board and where these epigenetic tags have been triggered. Where there are unresolved traumas, where love has stopped flowing, where things got tangled up in family relationships. And this is typically the root cause of what’s going on in the marriage that can’t seem to be repaired, why self-confidence feels like a uphill battle, or why we’ve got a lot of turmoil with our own children. So it’s really about looking for patterns and finding where we can find that resolution here, now, today.

Nancy: Welcome to Your Permission Prescription. I’m Nancy Levin, founder of Levin Life Coach Academy, bestselling author, master life coach, and your host. I train life coaches, aspiring coaches, and anyone who wants to add coaching skills to their current career to elevate their life and their business. I’ve coached thousands of people to live life on their own terms, and now I coach, train, and certify other coaches to do the same. 

If you are ready to give yourself permission to finally make yourself a priority and mobilize your vision, you are in the right place. Let’s dive in. 

Nancy: Welcome back to another episode of Your Permission Prescription. And today I am joined by Johanna Lynn. And Johanna is the founder of The Family Imprint Institute with an international private practice. Science tells us that our biography becomes our biology, your family lives on within you. Think of it as your emotional inheritance, and these imprints continue to influence you. The good news about epigenetics is that you can release how you hold the past within. Joanna provides solutions for the emotional patterns we all inherit for our families. 

I’m really looking forward to our conversation today, Johanna, and the intersection of what you do in your work with the way that I work with the shadow, work with what’s happened in our past and how it imprints and informs what we believe about ourselves and I know that this is also interconnected. So, welcome. 

Johanna: Thank you, Nancy. It’s so deeply interconnected. We’ll have so many crossovers in your approach and mine. 

Nancy: Yes. So first up, I’d love for you to share a bit about what it is that got you interested in this work, and presumably what in your own life were you on an exploration of? 

Johanna: It was such a blend, you know. I’d always had a natural curiosity about people. I was always, even as a kid, a people watcher, curious, you know, why is that person responding this way? Or How do these things work interpersonally? And then I had a very complicated first marriage that ended like a little bit of a car crash. You know, it just kind of blew up. And it really had me searching beyond just personal interest, beyond my psychology degree, beyond sort of what I would read in a book, into wow, you know, here’s my life in pieces, what did I bring to this relationship that had it kind of blow up in the way that it did? He had an affair and that all got kind of revealed in a very painful way. And where am I now? How do I navigate from here with all the pieces on the floor? And you know, as it turns out, I sort of trust that the right people come in at the right time. I find my most influential teacher at a time when I was pretty raw, pretty vulnerable, and the things that he was teaching and the pieces about epigenetics and the whole idea of how we were loved in our families, how we love in relationship, it was just like there were countless lights going off. And it helped me make sense of what felt so messy and so all over the place. And it just really helped me to put my life back together and rebuild it in a way that came from a place of choice instead of default. 

Nancy: So for the listeners who may not know what epigenetics is, how do you define it or how do you talk about it? 

Johanna: Yeah. So epigenetics really looks that we are carrying the experiences, the emotions, the fears, the perspectives of our parents and our grandparents. We know we can go two generations back and find that thread. So that really means if our grandparents were, gosh, living in poverty or through the Great Depression or we had a grandfather in a war torn situation, this is going to imprint at the very level of the DNA. And now that is what’s shared with our parents and certainly us. 

And so whenever I’m working with clients, I’m building out a three generation genogram. And more often than not, they have children too. So we’re sort of looking at four generations across the board and where these epigenetic tags have been triggered, where there are unresolved traumas, where love has stopped flowing, where things got tangled up in family relationships. And this is typically the root cause of what’s gone on in the marriage that can’t seem to be repaired, why self-confidence feels like an uphill battle, or why we’ve got a lot of turmoil with our own children. So it’s really about looking for patterns and finding where we can find that resolution here, now, today.

Nancy: Hmm. So in what you’re sharing, a couple of things that I remember when I first learned that the sort of beginning of the egg that I was born from inside my mother was first in her, in my grandmother. 

Johanna: Yes. Doesn’t much just blow your mind. 

Nancy: Yes. Blows my mind. Blows my mind. 

Johanna: Yes. Yeah. So when grandma is five months pregnant, the egg that is mom has the egg, that is you. And so we just think about that, that we, the egg are in all of grandma’s experiences, did she feel loved and supported in her marriage? Did the environment she was living in feel safe? These are sending all kinds of different signals, and that is that imprint on the egg that will someday be us. So to imagine we’ve been so intertwined across time and generations, understanding that help it make a lot more sense to me. 

Nancy: Absolutely. And then I know that my mother being pregnant with me was embedded with all the fear and anxiety she felt having given birth to my brother before me, who was born unhealthy. 

Johanna: That’s right. 

Nancy: And so everything that she was carrying finds its way into me.

Johanna: That’s right. There’s such a symbiotic connection and I think maybe in medicine or regular studies, we don’t consider like, well, how did life begin? And if I’m marinating in stress and worry and what if this happens to my next baby, I couldn’t handle it. Which is a completely natural feeling, but that is sort of what you are bombarded with before you’ve even taken your first breath.

Nancy: Yes. And this knowing, this deep, knowing that about that connectedness has absolutely had me dive deeply into inherited family trauma. You know, read Rachel Yehuda and read Galit Atlas and look at all sorts of different places, because I’m really fascinated by the way that this works. 

Johanna: Me too. And you know, Rachel Yehuda’s, one of my like heroes. The work that she’s doing is just incredible because I think we do need to have the science behind it. You know, there are some people who would think, well what do you mean? What happened to my mom is the impact of my stress or anxiety today? How does that really work? 

And now, I guess epigenetics, we could say it’s been around about 15 years, we have such a wide breadth of science and research to really help us to understand we are so connected through the DNA, this is really what’s carried on. And for me it’s good news because now there’s this place of, oh, the other things I’ve tried haven’t done what I’ve needed to create that traction because we haven’t been dealing with it at the root cause. And so we can include the full context now we get traction where maybe we couldn’t have before. 

Nancy: Yes. And it’s interesting you said what you said that epigenetics has really only been sort of out and about for 15 years. I mean, when I was working at Hay House, I worked with Bruce Lipton and.. 

Johanna: Oh, Incredible. 

Nancy: Yes. And so he was talking about this way back before it was really sort of in the common language.

Johanna: Yeah. Such a pioneer. And you know, his story about what he was doing professionally and what he had to give up in that sort of very secure position to follow what was really true, to be that revolutionary. I just adore him. 

Nancy: Yes, me too! So let’s talk a little bit about the ways that you work with inherited family trauma and ultimately, certainly want to touch in on family constellation work. I’ve been part of Family Constellations and I also find them fascinating. 

Johanna: Wonderful, yeah. And so Family Constellation work would be at sort of the epicenter of my approach, really that deep concept of we are a part of a larger fabric. You know, chromosomally biologically we are half our mom and half our dad, and this impacts our lives more than I think any of us really give any thought to. When we’re up against a problem that we’re facing today, we wanna include that context. And so my work has really that at the core.

I’ve also studied integrative body psychotherapy, which has been huge because many of us can understand why we’re doing what we’re doing, why we respond to conflict in the certain ways we do. But until it drops down into the body and we’ve really integrated it, nothing really changes in our lives. We sort of, oh darn, here I am in this thing again. But we don’t know how to respond differently in the body. So tho those two pieces come together so beautifully to almost connect that mind understanding and that body change. 

And so, as I was explaining a little earlier, I start with each client kind of getting their map of the world, and we call that the three generation genogram. My background originally, gosh, going back maybe 17 years now, was clinical hypnotherapy. And so I’m a real love of language and we reveal everything by how we describe what’s going on, if we know how to listen. And so I really tune in to the words my clients use to describe their mom, their dad, their grandparents, the situations in the family system. And that leads me to know straight away what root cause pieces we’re dealing with. 

And so it’s really a portion of gathering their imprint, understanding their map of the world, and then moving direct into resolution. What do we need to do to change this in our lives, right from the very first session?

Nancy: Mm. 

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Nancy: As I was thinking about our conversation this morning, I feel it would be irresponsible to not talk about what’s happening in the world right now. And whether it’s the Middle East, whether it’s Ukraine, whether it’s antisemitism around the world, anti-blackness around the world, and the generational trauma that is playing out now across the globe and the seeds of intergenerational trauma that are being planted. I just invite you to share what is in your mind as you’re watching what’s unfolding. 

Johanna: Yeah. What a big question. And I wanna hold it with a lot of reverence because I guess the first way to start that is, our first system is our culture, where we come from our country. And then so, so that’s like the macro system. And then we’ve got the micro system being the family. 

Nancy: Hmm. 

Johanna: And so it can be so difficult to look at anything objectively because we belong to one system or the other. And I tend to really hold this higher view where many people would probably call it utopian, which is, you know, it’s back to maybe the, the John Lenon song. You know that imagine. That the piece that we all bleed the same blood. We all live in these very vulnerable human bodies. If we were to take probably a look across the globe, what is it that we all want to feel safe, to have peace in our environment and to feel some level of happiness and fulfillment.

So then where things get lost and we come into this incredible conflict, is it in a way a systems war. A war of ideologies, a difference of my God versus your God. Or we can even look at our political structures, the left and the right, and we’re willing to fracture families over differences of viewpoints. 

And so it’s such a complex question and I would say my biggest movement, actually, colleagues of mine have this approach where they say, creating world peace one family at a time. And so I believe this is where that starts in, you know, those conversations around the dinner table. Are there elements of us versus them in the small micro system of the family? Is this where we begin to say, you know, that culture is this and this person is that. And I think it even starts in smaller ways, like gossiping about other relatives. 

I believe kindness can be taught. I believe inclusion is something we show our children by the efforts we might make to the neighbors that are struggling, by the efforts we might make to a family member that’s fallen on hard times.

And so this is all modeled, and I was just watching something before we got on because this is a huge, huge part of the work that I really love. And it has to do with early life experiences. 

So there’s been about 30 years of concentrated study on sending our kiddos off to daycare six weeks after birth. Now, this is not a judgment, many people, I’m a working mom, I’ve always been a working mom, but we’ve gotta have that focus on what is the separation doing to that little baby, because mom is everything. The smell, the sound, the all of it. 

And so that feeling eight hours to a little child, a regular working day is sort of like, well, where is she? And I’m not so sure I can trust this connection business. And so in a way, there’s a turning off from the love, the tenderness, that connection of care. And it turns the brain patterning into often highly independent, a little bit more structured, maybe a little bit more sort of emotional turnoff because we don’t know how to navigate empathy. We don’t know how to navigate where the roots of compassion are built. And so we need to start there where life begins in order to change a lot of these larger issues. 

And I know we’ve got urgency now to really address this. And I think it’s such a huge systemic piece that we’ve gotta go back to the beginning. We’ve gotta go back to the family and notice that ripple effect. It’s just immense. 

Nancy: Hmm. Yes. Thank you. I have to ask, are you familiar with the work on Mother Hunger by Kelly McDaniel? 

Johanna: Absolutely, yeah. 

Nancy: Everything you’re saying rings so true for me, that it has to come back to family. It has to come back to self. Because as cliche as this has become, I think it’s cliche because it’s true. But the only way global change will occur is if individual change is occurring. And I do think that the work we are willing to do on evolving ourselves is the most important work we will ever do. 

Johanna: I couldn’t agree more because in that self evolution, we raise children differently. We respond to life and its stresses in a more patient, grounded way. It just affects everything we touch. 

Nancy: Absolutely. Tell me a bit about, so the Family Imprint Institute, tell me a bit about what happens there. 

Johanna: Yeah, so my greatest love is sharing this work with other clinicians, coaches, naturopath, sound healers, you know, frontline people that are wanting to bring a systems approach into how they care for their clients. Many people come in ’cause they’re just so fascinated by epigenetics and they’d love to learn more. You know, it’s my way of kind of paying it forward in that energy because I can only work with so many people in any given day or week. So my great love is training others who’d like to bring this work into their work. 

Nancy: Beautiful. Yeah. I mean that’s why, and you know, as we were saying at the beginning, the sort of interconnection of the work we both do from coming from different angles, but really being able to go back and look at past relationships, look at family of origin, look at generations, and then discover the patterns that are still playing out in us unconsciously. And then to bring the unconscious conscious. 

Johanna: Exactly. Because it is unconscious, it is sort of under the surface. None of us would be doing it if, you know, if we, we saw the pattern playing out. It’s just so deep and, and I guess that’s probably why I called my institute that. We’re coming from an imprint, we’re responding from that reference point instead of with intention and clarity and choice, we’re running off a default. Maybe a little too much. 

Nancy: Yes, yes. I’m curious about, for you personally, in terms of the way you live your own life. Do you have, you know, I like to talk about non-negotiable practices of self connection. You know, do you have things that you do to bring yourself back to yourself? Oh, I imagine you do. So what are they? 

Johanna: Yeah, it’s so important, especially when you step into other people’s systems all day long, and you know, not to lose that groundedness. And so I’ve got, you know, my favorite people that I turn to. I love a good guided visualization that just helps you drop into your body and keep that focus going. I’m a big nature lover, so I find so much, you know, de-stressing and, and coming back home to self through nature. I love to walk and hike and just kind of get into nature anyway that I can. And I’m a huge music lover, so music is a big outlet to either, I’m just gonna listen and let the music come in, or movement through dance. And yeah, music is my language that allows things to move through that I may not have words for. 

Nancy: Hmm. How beautiful. Yeah, I think, you know, again, coming back to what we were saying before, that it has to begin with the individual. I think the way we, the way we give ourselves attention and the way that we do take really good care of ourselves is so important. I tend to, in my work, talk a lot about reclaiming selfishness because it’s gotten such a bad rap. 

Johanna: Sure it has. 

Nancy: Yeah. But it has to begin here. 

Johanna: Well, and especially that whole idea of coming back to self. If we didn’t receive the kind of love and nurturance and care in our childhood, that is such, it’s almost like the cornerstone of our healing to be able to build on from there. So I think that’s sort of, you know, step number one. And I love your language around it. It’s so beautiful because it doesn’t feel like I have to, it feels, you know, I get to, and here’s my commitment to myself.

Nancy: Which is exactly the way I talk about it, especially in coaching. You know, it is a commitment and it is, I get to, instead of I have to, and what can I create for myself as a ritual that I will look forward to instead of dread? And how do I make it realistic and reasonable and doable instead of something that’s unattainable, which so many of us, you know, set these sort of big goals and we think we have to get there in one jump. And then when we don’t, we sort of, you know, toss in the towel. And so I think it’s so important to make sure that everything we’re doing is really manageable and bite-sized for ourselves. I

Johanna:  couldn’t agree more, especially in today’s time. It just feels like so full on, time is liquid. We’ve gotta carve out that time to replenish. 

Nancy: Yeah. So the name of my podcast is Your Permission Prescription. So what would you like to invite the listeners to give themselves permission to do or permission for? How can you invite them into their own permission? 

Johanna: Ooh, a great question. I think the permission to look at patterns from a fresh perspective. A lot of times we move away from, oh, I’m doing that again or we go into self blame or all that kind of stuff. That just sort of shuts down our inquiry. And so can I look at my patterns from the perspective of any little girl would feel her confidence attacked or would feel anxiety or would have sadness. And that recognition that maybe it hasn’t been processed, maybe there hasn’t been space to metabolize all that stuff. Or even the consideration, hmm, is this something I’m carrying for my mom or my grandfather? Is this even really mine? 

So permission to look at those patterns from a new, fresh perspective to kind of lighten them off your shoulders a bit so you’re not trying to get at it with the same tool, that’s only brought frustration. 

Nancy: Yes. Thank you.

Johanna: Yeah. 

Nancy; So where is the best place for the listeners to find you to follow you? 

Johanna: Yeah, my website is www.joannalynn.ca. And you can find me there on my name on LinkedIn. I do a weekly newsletter there with all kinds of cool info about epigenetics and a lot about relationships and tips about how to move through the more difficult parts of that. And on Instagram, you can find me under the @FamilyImprintInstitute. 

Nancy: I have so enjoyed our conversation. 

Johanna: Me too. 

Nancy: And I’m grateful for the work that you’re doing in the world. Thank you. 

Johanna: Thank you, Nancy. 

Nancy: You’re welcome. And to all the listeners, thanks for being here today and I’ll be back with you again next week.

Thanks so much for joining me today on Your Permission Prescription. For even more, I invite you to head on over to nancylevin.com and sign up for my newsletter, The Practice, and follow me on social media. 

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