Genetics is not all we inherit from our parents, our ancestors. Patterns, stories, and, sometimes, unhealed wounds are also on the list of family patterns.
These “origin wounds,” as Vienna Pharaon, a licensed marriage and family therapist and the author of The Origins of You, calls them, can manifest in our relationships, careers, and even our sense of self. That’s why sometimes we seek validation, incessantly strive for perfection, have trust issues, and so on and so forth.
But the good news is, these family patterns don’t have to define us.
“We don’t need to live in patterns, in the unwanted patterns that we have in our lives,” Vienna explains in an episode of Honest Conversations with Kristina Mänd-Lakhiani, “but to be able to actually know how to turn towards our pain in a way that’s going to move us forward.”
The deepest scars hold the potential for transformation. And you? You can choose to heal, to rewrite your narratives, and to break free from the cycles that hold you back.
Vienna Pharaon is a licensed marriage and family therapist known for her expertise in relationship therapy. With over 15 years of experience, she founded the group practice, Mindful Marriage and Family Therapy. She’s been featured in esteemed publications like The Economist, Vice, and Motherly, to name a few. Her more recent work includes The Origin of You, a guide to help you heal family wounds and rewrite your future for happier, more authentic connections and a life you love.
What Are the 5 Origin Wounds?
Origin wounds are emotional injuries you may have sustained in your formative years, often within your family environment, that continue to influence your behavior as an adult.
Let’s break them down:
- Worthiness. This wound develops when you grow up feeling that you must meet certain conditions to be worthy of love and attention. It often manifests in adults as a relentless drive for perfection or a constant people-pleasing pattern.
- Belonging. Ever felt like an outsider in your own family? That’s the belonging wound at play. It emerges when you feel you must conform to family norms to be accepted, often leading to a loss of authenticity in adulthood.
- Prioritization. If you grew up feeling overlooked or like you weren’t a priority, you might have this wound. It can make you feel as if your needs and desires are always secondary, which might lead to struggles with feeling worthy and asserting yourself later in life.
- Trust. This wound is born from experiences of betrayal or unreliability in your early years. It can seed deep-seated trust issues in adult relationships, making it hard for you to open up or rely on others.
- Safety. If you grew up in an environment where you felt unsafe or were exposed to abuse, this wound might be familiar. It often leads to adults who are overly cautious or have difficulty forming secure emotional attachments.
“Not all wounds come from these [malintent], negligent, abusive places,” Vienna says. Research even suggests that the effects of trauma can be passed down through families, even through generations. This could explain how some origin wounds might arise even from unintentional actions or loving, but dysfunctional, family environments.
By understanding these wounds, though, you can take the first step toward breaking generational cycles.
Vienna Pharaon’s 5 Tips On How to Break Family Patterns
We all have the capacity for beautiful change and fulfilling relationships, according to Vienna. Learning how to break family patterns of dysfunction may just be the key you need to heal your deep-rooted emotional trauma.
Here are five key tips drawn from her expertise:
1. Reclaim Your Inner Value
Constantly chasing approval, a relentless drive for perfection, and the nagging belief that you only deserve love and belonging if you earn them—these types of family patterns can really take a toll on your self-worth.
Breaking free from it requires a radical shift in your perspective. It involves embracing who you are at your core without the need to constantly prove your worth through achievements or by seeking others’ approval.
“It’s about remembering that we are humans,” explains Vienna. “So it requires grace and compassion for the self, for the human experience.”
So instead of harsh self-judgments, practice gentle self-compassion. Embrace your flaws and imperfections as part of your uniqueness. And celebrate your strengths and accomplishments, no matter how small.
Gradually, as you replace self-doubt with self-compassion and prioritize your authentic self, the need for external validation will fade. You’ll discover that your worth is an inherent gift, not something you need to earn.
2. Reconnect with Your Authentic Self
The world can feel like a stage where you’re playing a role to fit in. But genuine connection comes from embracing your authentic self, the one beneath the masks and expectations.
This means allowing yourself to express your true thoughts, feelings, and interests, even if they differ from those around you. It’s about being true to yourself—or what Kristina calls “becoming flawesome”—rather than conforming to others’ expectations.
You could look into finding a community that values and celebrates your genuine self. Build new friendships, join groups with similar interests, or engage in activities that resonate with your true self.
In these spaces, you can experience a sense of belonging that is based on who you truly are, not who you feel you need to be. It’s as Vienna says: “It’s okay to be ourselves and still be loved.”
3. Assert Your Needs
Did you grow up feeling like your needs were secondary to everyone else’s? Maybe your parent was a workaholic. Or maybe they had some kind of addiction. Or maybe they were just too codependent.
It could be many a-thing. But constantly putting others first meant neglecting your own desires and goals. That’s why it’s crucial to learn how to advocate for yourself and prioritize your well-being.
Vienna suggests asking yourself this question: What did I want most as a child and not get?
The thing is, part of our wounds stem from family communication patterns. So identifying what you need for your well-being and learning to communicate these needs assertively can go a long way.
“To make space for that,” she says, “to find a way to make space for that, really helps move us in a very helpful direction.”
4. Build Trust Gradually
Betrayals, broken promises, and what have you can leave deep scars, making it difficult to trust others or even yourself. It can hinder your ability to form authentic and vulnerable connections.
“Obviously, once trust is ruptured, it’s so, so hard to bring it back,” explains Vienna. You may have expectations for the second shoe to drop, and that, she adds, “can come along with us in really big ways.”
Healing this wound requires courage to rebuild trust, one step at a time. You can start by acknowledging and validating your feelings. Give yourself permission to process your emotions without judgment.
Once you’ve acknowledged the pain, consider the roots of your trust issues and work on understanding how they manifest in your current interactions.
Remember, building trust is about taking measured steps. Be patient with yourself, and learn to trust your judgment when discerning trustworthy behaviors in others.
5. Cultivate a Safe Environment
The absence of safety, according to Vienna, often coincides with the presence of abuse—emotional, physical, sexual, narcissistic, negligence, recklessness, and so on and so forth.
“It’s the sensation that, as a kid, you didn’t feel like your well-being, your overall well-being, was cared for, centered, honored, and respected,” she adds.
So start by addressing any immediate sources of physical or emotional danger in your life. If you’re facing abuse or neglect, seek professional help to deal with these family patterns. Additionally, a support system of trusted individuals can offer understanding and support.
You can also turn to mindfulness, relaxation techniques, or even therapy to manage triggers and cultivate a sense of inner calm. Whichever method you choose, remember to be gentle with yourself.
Building a sense of security takes time. Celebrate your progress, no matter how small, and remember that you are worthy of feeling safe and secure in your own world.
Liberate Your Life
Healing from family patterns is a personal journey, and there’s no one-size-fits-all approach.
“Even if a wound isn’t resonant with you, it might be for your partner or it might be for your child,” says Vienna. In the end, we all need to remember that we were all once tiny little humans learning from our parents, our ancestors.
But by understanding the origins of your pain, developing healthy coping mechanisms, and practicing self-compassion, you can break free from the past and create a future filled with love, connection, and authenticity.
If you want to dive deeper into healing and transformation, check out Vienna Pharaon’s book, The Origins of You. And for more insightful conversations like this, don’t miss Kristina’s Honest Conversations on YouTube.
• Vienna Pharaon | Instagram
• Vienna Pharaon | Twitter
• Vienna Pharaon | LinkedIn
• Vienna Pharaon | Website
Watch the full episode:
Tatiana Azman is a content writer for Mindvalley and a Certified Life Coach. With a background in spa and wellness as well as being a cancer survivor, she's constantly on the lookout for natural, effective ways that help with one's overall well-being.