Doing Your Inner Work: Dissolving Generational Strongholds

Updated on September 15, 2019
Amanda Buck profile image

Amanda's greatest passion is encouraging people as they walk the path to inner healing and self-awareness.

When we think of inner work many things come to mind; delving into oneself, healing old hurts, revisiting the past, bettering ourselves, finding out what makes us tick, etc. We have accumulated many hurts, ideas and prejudices in this lifetime alone. But one aspect of inner work that is of utmost importance is dealing with and processing the issues that have been passed down to us through Generational Strongholds.

Inner Work: The Most Important Job in the World

Imagine for a moment that you have just inherited a farm. This farm has been in your family for as long as anyone can remember and all of your ancestors lived here. In all those years, no one ever cleaned anything or fixed the place up! Imagine the mess that you would have on your hands! Every building on the property is crammed full of other people’s junk and millennia of accumulated filth that no one dealt with. I’m sure some of your ancestors tried to cleaned up. But the mess is overwhelming! It will be a daunting task. But if you don’t do it, your children will inherit the disaster. You look around and imagine how wonderful this place would be if it were cleaned up and fixed up. It really has potential and could be a real blessing to your children someday. So, you roll up your sleeves and get to work. Good for you!

Such is the nature of Inner Work. There is a plethora of accumulated emotional junk that has been passed down for generations because our ancestors didn’t do their inner work. If we want to break that cycle and reach our potential, it is up to us to take on the daunting task of cleaning it up. What do we want to leave our children? A heaping mess or a clear path forward? Doing your inner work might be the hardest job you have ever done. But it may also be the most rewarding.

Just as we share ancestors with people all over the world, we also share Generational Strongholds with people all over the world. When we dissolve these strongholds, we weaken them and make it easier for others to free themselves. What we do deep inside ourselves affects people globally. It also travels through time in both directions. When we weaken our strongholds, we release our children (and their children, on and on) from the bondage awaiting them and we loosen the ropes that hold our parents and grandparents, so that they may free themselves. That’s pretty important work!

What Do You Mean by ‘Generational Strongholds’?

When I use the term Generational Stronghold, I am referring to an attitude, idea or behavior pattern that is passed down through families. In the church, this is sometimes referred to as a familial spirit. I once attended a deliverance camp where familial spirits were being cast out of people. At the time, my impression was that these spirits were entities that travelled down through families, more like ghosts. And there may be spirits that do travel down through families and can affect our thoughts and behaviors. The thing is, if we are dealing with our own thoughts and behaviors, we have the power to change them. But if we believe we are dealing with some entity outside ourselves, we do not feel empowered to change. We believe we are a victim. So for now, I am talking about firmly entrenched patterns in our thoughts and behaviors that we inherited from our ancestors. Often, they are so firmly embedded in the fabric of our being that we believe them to be who we are.

How Can We Tell That They Are Not Who We Are?

Have you ever noticed a trait in one of your family members that just drives you nuts… and you know that the same thing resides in you? You see it in them and you stand against it in yourself. This sets it apart from you. If you can see it and stand against it, it is not really you. Here is the beautiful part, if you can be aware of that trait, if you can see it and recognize it, then you have the power to change it! Just being aware of it, whatever it is, brings what has been hiding in the shadows into the light. It has been caught, so to speak, like a deer in the headlights. And in that moment, you can choose to change it. If you could not see it, there would be no power to change it. You would be unaware of it. But your awareness gives you the opportunity to make a choice. Will you react the same way as your family member? Or will you choose to let the issue drop and not give more power to the stronghold?


Are you thinking of some generational strongholds you recognize in yourself or your relatives right now?

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Now Here’s the Thing…

When you set yourself against that trait that is in your family member(s), they feel it. To them, if they cannot separate themselves from their traits (which they can’t if they are unaware of them), it will feel like you have set yourself against them. They will take it personally. Even if they are not fully aware of it, they will feel your rejection peripherally. This can cause some upsets in your relationships, not just with family, but with friends as well. Generational strongholds like company, they are stronger if they have support from others like them. It is quite likely that many of your friends have the same strongholds as you. Think of it this way, if you like to drink, you probably have friends who like to drink with you. You feel more justified in your thoughts and actions when you have friends who share them. So it is with Generational Strongholds.

How Can I Minimize the Damage and Not Be at Odds With My Friends and Family?

Unfortunately, you probably won’t be able to eliminate all of the effects, but you can significantly reduce them. The best thing you can do is to stand your ground without pitting yourself against the stronghold. In The Power of Now, Eckhart Tolle writes, “Whatever you fight, you strengthen, and what you resist, persists." This has been one of the most memorable and most powerful quotes I have ever read. It applies to everything. Really, everything. It is a universal truth. In this case, it is natural for you to push hard against the trait you are rejecting. After all, you are rejecting it and it has been so firmly entrenched for so long that it is natural to fight hard to get it out. But the harder you fight against it, the harder it will fight back.

Watch Out!

This may sound crazy, but as I became aware of a generational stronghold in myself this week, I lost my cool and yelled at my Dad. It wasn’t him I was yelling at, I was fighting against the stronghold that resides in both of us. A few hours later that very day, I had a couple guys show up to trim a tree in our yard. Immediately I recognized the same stronghold in the older of the two men. I had never met this man before, but I recognized the stronghold as if he were my father! I was stunned. Here I was, face to face with it again! So beware, if you punch at it, it will punch back from a direction you may not expect.

Don’t Be Aggressive, Be Assertive.

The best thing you can do is to not be aggressive. Be assertive. Stand your ground, but don’t fight. Remember that this is a trait that is in your family member, it is not who they really are. Don’t fight your family member, just hold your ground and don’t let this trait take control of your thoughts and behaviors. If you stay conscious, then you’ve got this!

How Can I Help My Loved One?

It is very natural to want to bring your family member or friend out of bondage with you. Unfortunately, this is a very personal matter and you cannot help your loved ones out of their bondage… unless they are on a path of self discovery like you. You may find that when you approach the topic with a loved one, they become outlandishly defensive very quickly. Then you know you’ve touched that stronghold. Be careful! Most people carry their strongholds with them to the grave. Which is very unfortunate, because it continues the cycle of strongholds being passed down. If you have chosen to flush out and resolve the strongholds in your life, I can’t thank you enough. You are doing the most important work in the world and it will surely affect your descendants and the world as a whole! The best thing you can do for your loved one is to dissolve the stronghold in yourself. This will take power away from that stronghold and in time, it may weaken enough that your loved one is open to your help. Seeing the changes in you should make them curious as well. It may be necessary to take a moment to mourn or grieve for your loved one. Go ahead and deeply feel your sorrow for them and where they are at. Then wish them the best and move on. You have important work to do, don’t stop moving forward because you have to leave them behind. You are blazing a new trail and hopefully they will follow and join you in the future.

Finding Support

As you begin to break down these strongholds, it is natural that you will drift away from people who are unconscious of their strongholds. You will gravitate towards people who are more free. This is okay and it is important. If you can find people in your life who are happier, more free, and support your new way of being, they will help you to rise up and maintain that new height.

For Example:

Let’s say that you and your buddies like to drink. But you have recently realized that drinking is not good for you and you have decided to quit. You can still go out with your buddies and have a soda while they drink beer. But they are not really supporting you in your efforts to better yourself and you might feel like a bit of an outsider. So, you start to make new friends who don’t drink. These friends support your decision to better yourself and help you reach and maintain a new level of personal growth.

Self Care

Doing your inner work is difficult and it can be draining. It takes a lot of energy to deal with your emotions. It is important that you take care of yourself during this process.

  • Make time to process your feelings.
  • Take walks or sit quietly (in nature if possible).
  • Do nice things for yourself.
  • Treat yourself to your favorite food.
  • Wear your cozy clothes.
  • Do things that make you feel comfortable and comforted.
  • Get plenty of rest and don’t forget to eat nutritious meals. Sometimes we lose our appetite when we are emotionally charged.
  • Give yourself grace and allow yourself to feel whatever it is that you feel. It’s okay and it’s normal.
  • Accept yourself. Feel free to read my article, How to Heal the World: Accept and Love Yourself.

To Recap:

  • Dissolving generational strongholds is an important part of our inner work
  • Generational Strongholds are ideas, attitudes and behavior patterns that are passed down to us from our ancestors.
  • If we do not resolve our generational strongholds, they will continue to be passed down to our descendants. (Note that if you do not have descendants, it is still important to do this work for yourself, your ancestors and the world at large.)
  • We can recognize our strongholds by thinking about what bothers us about our family members and finding the same patterns in ourselves.
  • We dissolve our strongholds by becoming aware of them and making a choice to break the pattern.
  • Be assertive, not aggressive. Don’t fight the pattern, just stop allowing it to control your thoughts and actions.
  • Remember that this trait is in your family member or friend, it is not who they really are. Don’t fight them.
  • You may not be able to help your loved one right now. Just blaze a trail for them to follow and keep moving forward.
  • Find some friends who support your new way of being and be sure to take good care of yourself.
  • Be proud of yourself, you are doing the most important work in the world!

This All Sounds Like Hard Work. What’s the Reward?

We don’t realize it, but our strongholds make us miserably unhappy! They keep us locked into patterns that aren’t really us and they prevent us from reaching our full potential. They cause feelings of discontent, dissatisfaction and they distance us from ourselves and the rest of the world. These patterns of thinking and behaving are negative, they drain us and make us unhealthy. They cause stress and they lead to death. Sadly, they steal our joy. Generational Strongholds are like ruts in the road, worn in over the ages, so deep that all the cars that come along after unconsciously fall into the rut and are forced to travel the same path. That is, unless you look at where you are going, wake up and realize that you can set your tires on high ground and travel a different path.

When you break out of that rut, there is immense freedom. Now you can choose your path. You feel lighter, empowered and more awake. Those old patterns no longer keep you down. You can begin to explore, find your truest self and realize your potential. It’s as if you’re a puppet whose strings have just been cut and you are suddenly in control of you. What makes you happy? What brings you joy? What will you do? Where will you go? You will feel better in every way and your freedom will affect those around you. You have taken power away from that stronghold, which serves to weaken its power over your loved ones, your descendants and the whole world. Good job!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers

    © 2019 Amanda Buck


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      • Amanda Buck profile imageAUTHOR

        Amanda Buck 

        6 months ago from Rural South Central Indiana

        Hi Louise, thanks for reading my article, I thought it might interest you. I read your article on cancer, but had not read the one on alcoholism or the other one you linked to. I will check them out!

      • louiseelcross profile image

        Louise Elcross 

        6 months ago from Preston

        Hi Amanda. I can clearly see we are on similar paths inlife. I am free! I am aware of my family, cultural and personal beliefs and I am on a journey of self discovery create my ideal life. I am not sure if you read my or my story of cancer.

        I have lived a challenging life as a result of strongholds as you describe.Abuse and rejected as a child I learnt above self love and letting go. I now spend my life teaching people to identify their limiting beliefs, change them, and to truly genuinely love themselves. I try to vary my writing with health papers, history and so on but my main focus is finding total loving acceptance and forgiveness for myself and others. I enjoyed reading and seeing things from your point of view and looking forward to reading your next article.

        I wrote one about how to get what you want, I share it will you because its something that can be reused.

        Have a lovely day Amanda

      • Lorna Lamon profile image

        Lorna Lamon 

        6 months ago

        Fascinating article Amanda and I have to agree that many of the generational attitudes can trap you in quicksand if you allow them to. However, coming from a farming community I feel there is such a sense of loyalty which is ingrained into our society that it is difficult to release yourself as most people will have grown up with it. It's really about taking a stand, knowing what is best for you and letting go. Thought provoking and eye opening, I really enjoyed this article.

      • Amanda Buck profile imageAUTHOR

        Amanda Buck 

        6 months ago from Rural South Central Indiana

        @Richard, Wow! Thank you for sharing. I am so glad that you were able to pull through!

      • parrster profile image

        Richard Parr 

        6 months ago from Australia

        Wonderful article. Could relate to every paragraph. Having recently battled through a cancer caused largely by emotional baggage of the generational kind, i can attest to the importance of breaking the cycle. Failing to do so can have dire consequences.


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