It Didn't Start With You Book Summary - It Didn't Start With You Book explained in key points
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It Didn't Start With You summary

Mark Wolynn

How Inherited Family Trauma Shapes Who We Are and How to End The Cycle

4.2 (221 ratings)
13 mins

What is It Didn't Start With You about?

It Didn’t Start With You (2016) sheds light on a common thread in family relationships. These blinks explain how the source of your emotional or mental problems isn’t necessarily you but instead, your family history. You’ll learn how trauma can be passed from generation to generation, and what you can do to break the cycle.

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    It Didn't Start With You
    summarized in 6 key ideas

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    Key idea 1 of 6

    Severe trauma can lead to negative behavior and feelings, even when the trauma isn’t your own.

    Many people struggle with emotional problems. Some hold irrational fears, exhibit destructive habits or feel trapped in unhealthy relationships.

    If you’ve ever faced problems such as these, you might think that you’re to blame, that you’re the source of your emotional turmoil.

    But often such unhealthy behavior stems from trauma that you instead experienced, directly or indirectly, through your family.

    Traumatic events, such as an early separation from a mother or an act of violence, can affect a person deeply. These events not only cause stress and fear but also can change a person’s behavior.

    Importantly, if a person isn’t able to resolve the symptoms of such trauma, that person might instead suppress them and as a result, develop unhealthy behavioral patterns.

    Worse, such people can even pass the effects of trauma to the next generation.

    In short, you can carry symptoms of trauma in your life that you didn’t experience. You might have recurrent feelings or exhibit behaviors that aren’t the result of any particular event in your own life.

    One of the author’s patients, for example, was overwhelmingly afraid of dying. She was severely claustrophobic and feared being unable to escape from a life-or-death situation.

    She described the feeling as “I can’t breathe, I can’t get out; I’m going to die.”

    The patient wasn’t reacting to trauma from her life but to the experience of her mother’s relatives, who she later learned were murdered in a gas chamber during World War II.

    Severe trauma like this can be so powerful that echoes of it can affect people who personally didn’t experience it. But how exactly can this be the case?

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    Best quote from It Didn't Start With You

    Of all the core language tools you learn … the sentence that describes your worst fear, your Core Sentence, is the most direct path to uncovering unresolved family trauma.

    —Mark Wolynn
    example alt text

    About the Author

    Mark Wolynn is the founder of the Family Constellation Institute, which specializes in the Core Language Approach in addressing family trauma.

    Who should read It Didn't Start With You?

    • Anyone struggling with depression, anxiety or phobias
    • Parents and children seeking to mend relationships
    • Psychology students

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