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Generational Trauma

Breaking Generational Trauma: Insights from a 1.5 Generation Korean Immigrant Kid

Growing up in a Korean-American household, I often felt the weight of duty and obligation towards my parents. The concept of filial piety, deeply ingrained in Asian cultures, can lead to conflicting desires between generations. Many of us find ourselves torn between fulfilling our own aspirations and meeting the expectations of our parents.

In a recent coaching session with my client Jen, a super successful, second generation Asian-American millennial, we discussed navigating contradictory desires between partners and parents, which struck a chord with me. It's a scenario many of us face: our partner wants one thing, while our parents expect something entirely different. How do we approach such a situation?

Offer yourself compassion. Recognize that these conflicts are often rooted in deep-seated generational patterns and traumas. Our reactions are not just about the present moment but are influenced by our past experiences.

Acknowledging our own needs is crucial. Too often, we suppress our emotions and desires to avoid conflict or out of a sense of obligation to our elders. But by neglecting our own needs, we perpetuate a cycle of resentment.

Setting boundaries is essential for our well-being. It's about communicating with both our partner and our parents/grandparents/elders, expressing our feelings, fears, and aspirations openly and honestly. This may feel daunting, especially if we've never asserted ourselves before, but it's necessary for personal growth and fulfillment.

In the face of guilt or fear of disappointing our parents, it's vital to trust in their love for us. True love transcends our ability to please others; it withstands difficult conversations and disagreements. By making decisions that align with our values and aspirations, we pave the way for deeper, more authentic relationships with our parents.

Breaking free from the cycle of obligation is a courageous act, one that requires patience and self-compassion. It's about recognizing that we are not responsible for others' happiness but for creating the conditions for our own fulfillment and that of our loved ones.

As the new generation, we have the opportunity to be pioneers in our families, to break generational cycles and forge new paths of empowerment and authenticity. It may be a challenging journey, but the rewards—authentic connections, personal growth, and deeper understanding—are worth it.

Let's embrace our agency, honor our desires, and create the change we wish to see in ourselves and in the world. Together, we can break free from the chains of generational trauma and step into a future defined by authenticity, compassion, and empowerment.



This article dives deep into the complexities of navigating generational trauma and conflicting desires, offering guidance and encouragement for the newer generation seeking to assert their own agency and break free from patterns of obligation and resentment. It emphasizes the importance of self-compassion, setting boundaries, and trusting in the power of authentic communication to create meaningful change in our lives and relationships.

Compassion & Understanding: Recognize that conflicting desires between partners and family members often stem from deep-seated issues and past experiences that have caused pain. Approach the situation with compassion and understanding for oneself and others involved.

Setting Boundaries: Understand the importance of setting healthy boundaries, both with one's partner and with family members. Communicate openly about personal needs and the necessity of establishing boundaries to maintain emotional well-being.

Trust Love: Acknowledge that love from family members, especially parents, should not be conditional upon fulfilling their desires. Trust in the depth of familial love to withstand difficult decisions and boundary-setting.

Break Generational Patterns: Realize the potential role as a trailblazer within the family by breaking generational patterns of obligation and guilt. Recognize the bravery and potential long-term benefits of setting boundaries and prioritizing personal well-being.

Self-Love & Accountability: Emphasize the importance of self-love and accountability in maintaining healthy relationships. Understand that while individuals cannot control others' emotions, they are accountable for their actions and the impact on others' happiness.

Create Conditions for Happiness: Take responsibility for creating conditions that support the well-being of oneself and loved ones. Recognize the potential consequences of actions on relationships and take proactive steps to address any harm caused.


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