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A New Year’s Conversation Between Hypnotherapists: Exploring Epigenetics & Unraveling Generational Behaviors Through the Lens of Hypnotherapy

Updated: Jan 2


As individuals, we often find ourselves entangled in behavioural patterns that seem to echo through generations within our family tree. This was the topic of conversation with my in-laws a few days before new years eve 2023. There was my father-in-law, a hypnotherapist, my mother-in-law, my wife and myself, also a hypnotherapist. We have quite open and thoughtful conversation I think and that night we spoke candidly about the parts of ourselves we feel we struggle with.   


I myself have long endured my own procrastination, as if an onlooker to myself, this procrastination is really anxiety. Anxiety that is a fear to fail therefore a fear to try, so as not to fail in the first place. I learned this behaviour because I watched it in my parents, who lived in a very dysfunctional dynamic that bred stress, stress that created anxiety. Or as my father once put it, “mental illness doesn’t run in the family, it gallops”.


My father-in-law and my wife spoke to a commonality that runs through them; anger and the inability to control their anger in moments born from stress. My father-in-law’s father is a man long known to be, let’s say, perennially stressed, like a moon controlling the pull of tides, he controlled the state of his family, washing stress onto others at will. My father-in-law posited that this stemmed from his grandfather taking his life in a brutal fashion – a trauma if you will – a trauma that marked the family through generations. We could call this ‘generational trauma’ but when looking at how we are shaped by stress we concluded (with our hypnotherapist hats on) that Epigenetics was where the conversation should head.


The concept of epigenetics offers a profound perspective on how these patterns, seemingly inherited from our ancestors, can shape our behaviours and predispositions. I am not a epigeneticist or any type of bio-chemical scientist, but i am incredibly interested in the intersection between hypnotherapy and epigenetics and how this realm can provide a fascinating gateway to comprehend and transform behaviours formed and ingrained within the subconscious. The subconscious is something we are imbued with before birth, constructed deep within us, at the level of DNA or a collective grey matter – a subconscious that must take its cues from somewhere…say epigenetics.


Epigenetics is a new field still fast evolving, but it has quickly shown incredible promise at delving into the study of heritable changes in gene expression that occur without altering the underlying DNA sequence. Rather than changing the genetic code itself, epigenetic mechanisms modify how genes are activated or silenced. This field highlights how environmental factors, experiences, and even traumas can leave molecular marks on our DNA, influencing our behavior and health outcomes.


When discussing epigenetics in the context of hypnotherapy, as we were that night in Paris by the fire, it became apparent to us that the behaviours we exhibit may not solely stem from our own experiences or choices but could be influenced long before we even drew a breath and effect how we later draw that breath in life. Take, for instance, my anxiety and procrastination—a common struggle for many. These traits might not merely surface from personal experiences or even the experiences of my parents’ that I watched and absorbed, but rather it could be deeply rooted in the genetic and epigenetic imprints inherited from previous generations, in fact I know others throughout my wider family tree who struggle with similar things.


Similarly, consider the case of anger management passed down through generations. It’s plausible that unresolved trauma or distressing events experienced by our ancestors may have left an indelible mark on the epigenome, manifesting as emotional volatility or an inability to regulate emotions. Ok so where does this take us, what fork in the road am I offering?


As hypnotherapists neither my father-in-law nor I use this understanding as a shield or a pretext, rather hypnotherapy provides a unique avenue for exploring and addressing these ingrained patterns. Through hypnosis, individuals can access the subconscious mind—a repository of beliefs, emotions, and experiences—where these inherited behaviours can reside. By tapping into this realm, hypnotherapy aims to identify, reframe and reprogram deep-seated beliefs and behaviours that may have been passed down through generations.


The process of hypnotherapy involves guiding individuals into a relaxed state, allowing the hypnotherapist to help his client work with their subconscious mind to address behaviours like anxiety, procrastination, or anger issues. By bringing these patterns into awareness, hypnotherapy empowers individuals to break free from the cycle of generational behaviours and beliefs that no longer serve them. To say you can stop the behaviour or overcome it would not be fair or correct, rather you learn to live with it and accept yourself all the more because you have accessed a deeper understanding of your own subconscious, which in turn will allow for you to better control your behaviour, and thus bit by bit you can move towards changes you have always wanted or rather a version of you that you feel is truer, more you. You can in effect program yourself, something that can only be done when the conscious you and the subconscious you get to know each other.


Crucially, just as scientists have developed techniques that can manipulate epigenetic markers in laboratory settings, hypnotherapy offers techniques to reprogram the subconscious mind, replacing negative thought patterns with positive ones, even empowering you with beliefs and mechanisms about your own self – from you to you. This process can aid in rewiring the brain's neural pathways, promoting healthier behaviours and responses, effectively breaking the chains of inherited predispositions.


So, I think it’s fair to say we must acknowledge the role of epigenetics in shaping our behavioural landscape and then understand in that context, how hypnotherapy serves as a powerful tool for individuals seeking to understand and transform themselves. By unravelling the layers of inherited behaviours and beliefs buried within the subconscious, one can pave the way for profound personal growth and lasting change.


Before I finish writing I just want to press the importance of this: the journey to self-discovery and transformation begins with one’s own willingness to explore the depths of one's own psyche — there’s a reason Descartes said it quite plainly, “I think therefore I am”.


Hypnotherapy is the tool that can help you do just this.



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