It’s Grandma’s Fault

Guess what?  Grandma’s fear may have just stopped you from getting that big deal you were going for . . . or losing those ten extra pounds! So says the theory coming out of the latest field of research called epigenetics.

family tree epigeneticsIn this article I’ll cover this interesting tidbit, then provide you with an interesting solution I call  family tree coaching.


Epigenetic Research

While ancestral influences have been known and embraced by most cultures around the world, it has only recently gained the attention of western scientists and researchers.  Most current  research focuses on separating observable facts from the myths, and sticks to measurable changes in research animals, like rats.

But can research on rats actually tell us anything?  How does that give us understanding of ancestral influences?  Or inherited DNA changes based on older generation experiences?  Basically – is the idea that our ancestors can pass down their fears, beliefs and behaviors to us a real science, or not?

According to author Dan Hurley, the field of epigenetics is not only real, but increasingly pertinent for psychology.  After interviewing a team of scientists on the subject, he summarized their work in his Discover magazine article (May 2013, pp. 48-55) and said their research findings are nothing short of incredible:

“With no changes to their genetic code, the baby rats nonetheless gained genetic attachments due solely to their upbringing – epigenetic additions of methyl groups sticking like umbrellas out the elevator doors of their histories, gumming up the works and altering the function of the brain.” 

Basically, there is a biological component to behavior that can be passed down from one generation to another! The old argument of “Nature vs. Nurture” has expanded to include the formerly-dismissed “junk” DNA.

A Brief History

Back in 1809, a French naturalist named Jean-Baptiste de Lamarck lamarck(1744-1829) published his Philosophie Zoologigue in which he expounded on a radical theory that all living organisms pass on behavioral traits – or traits that Darwin later argued was a fantasy.  The the next two centuries, Darwin’s ideas  formed the basis of biology and genetics, while “Lamarckism” quickly faded from popularity.

With the onset of intensive DNA research, Lamarck is getting a second look.  Really knowing your family tree can now actually set you free!

Family Tree Influences on Life Coaching

OK, that’s great.  Now we know that our ancestors helped mess up our lives and the lives of our clients.  But isn’t that just another problem that we, as life coaches, have to deal with?!

Yes, but believe it or not, solving this problem is not as tough as you think!

There is a simple piece I added to my own coaching I describe as “family tree coaching” . . . a series of methods you can use with your clients to help them quickly and easily overcome inherited or ancestral limitations so that your coaching is more effective!

If you’ve been a life coach for any length of time, you’ve no doubt had one or more self-sabotaging clients.  These are the folks who – no matter how much time, effort and planning you put into helping them achieve her (or his) goals, she will ultimately blow it. She will procrastinate, back out of the program, or flat-out argue with you!

But no matter how many times this happens, it’s always a mystery.  And, since COACHING is not THERAPY, it’s not your coach’s role to go digging around in your client’s psyche to uncover childhood traumas.

As both a doctor and a coach, I’ve spent almost 30 years “digging around” with some success.  I wanted to know WHY self-sabotage happens . . . why everyday, normal-looking folks (including myself) often get stuck in the mire of procrastination, forgetfulness, emotional outbursts, or other forms of self-sabotage.

What I found surprised me:  I discovered that – along with the usual childhood traumas and hidden childhood decisions – there exists a whole other set of influences that go back even beyond the client’s awareness and personal history.

family-tree-picIt wasn’t until I spend several months organizing a family reunion back in 2009, however, that the revelation came to me:  My ancestors greatly influence my experiences, feelings, and subconscious decisions!

When I was finally able to connect the link between the shooting death of my grandfather and related family trials and tribulations over three generations,it hit me like a ton of bricks!  I knew then that this new piece (which I later found out was called epigenetics) was what had been missing.

I then added a very simple but effective “family tree coaching” piece to my coaching technique, the Logical Soul®, that you can learn more about from my free 21-video introductory course.

(Without going into much detail, part of a normal Logical Soul® session would be to have the client visualize a “family conference”  that allows the ancestors to come in and give their “permission and blessings” to let the client release his or her suffering or self-sabotage.)

In the next blog post I’ll talk more about the Family Conference and how you can use it in your coaching practice.  Please leave a comment below and let me know if you want more articles like this one…