Subscribe to our mailing list!

Get weekly updates of the shows by staying connected.


Actually we won’t spam you and keep your personal data secure

Alternative Healing

Family Patterns: Your Go to Guide (Dr. Steven D.Farmer)

By  | 

How did I end up this way? Well, part of you was predetermined by your genes. A good portion of how you behave, what you think, and how you navigate the world can be traced back to mom and dad and your family patterns. In fact, it likely that it goes back further than that. Many of your family patterns have been passed down from generation to generation. Join CJ as she learns from psychotherapist and Shamanic practitioner, Dr. Steven D. Farmer, on how you can uncover your family’s past and create a better future.

YouTube Interview with Dr. Steven D. Farmer -author of Healing Ancestral Karma


Family patterns

by C.J. Liu

Family patterns are those traits, behaviors, or attitudes that have been passed down from generation to generation. The most well understood patterns are genetic patterns where we can see family resemblance in our offspring, like having Grandfather Jonathan’s cleft chin.

Whether it’s looking at the waves of an ocean, concentric circles of a tree trunk, or constellations in the inky dark sky, patterns make up the fabric of who we are and where we have come from. By understanding our family patterns we can understand the basic design that we inherited through nature and nurture.

Family patterns may make us feel lucky when they include inheriting a strong chin and straight teeth, but what happens when these designs aren’t what we want? What if our ancestors pass down a sense of worry, weak hips, or an addiction to alcohol?

Understanding family patterns is a way to discover who we are. But where do we start? How can we be more conscious of these patterns? And once we are conscious of them, what are our options if we want to change these patterns?

Structure of Family Patterns

According to Steven D. Farmer, author of “Healing Ancestral Karma: Free Yourself from Unhealthy Family Patterns” there are three types of patterns: mental patterns, emotional patterns, and genetic patterns.

Let’s use my family lineage to illustrate what these patterns look like in practice. Here’s a little bit about my lineage. Both of my parents were born in Shanghai, China, which makes me a first generation Asian American. I live both sets of values: Chinese and American.


  • Mental Patterns: Mental patterns include a set of beliefs, values, and/or attitudes about how the world works that one generation may pass down to another.

Here’s how mental patterns have worked in my life. On my Chinese side, I was raised with my ancestor’s values of working hard, focusing on family first, and being modest about my accomplishments. Along with these values, the Chinese culture has a bunch of attitudes and beliefs on what it takes to be a good Asian daughter, and wife. Some of these values, beliefs, and attitudes create a deep sense of pride for me, while others have felt imprisoning. For example, the Chinese mental pattern of modesty doesn’t work well if you are trying to move up the corporate ladder.

  • Emotional patterns: Emotional patterns describe the ways that you react and behave to life events and the people around you. Do you act from a place of love or fear? Abusive language and physical abuse are also emotional patterns that can be passed down through a family line. Do you find yourself reacting the same way your dad did when your son starts back talking? This is an emotional pattern.

Here’s how emotional patterns have played out in my life. During the Communist takeover, my grandparents lived in three different cities, Hong Kong, San Paulo, Brazil, and then eventually immigrated to Vancouver, Canada all within a ten year period. Each time they were hoping to find a safe place to live and raise a family. Each time they would leave their home and possessions behind when things didn’t work out. These types of traumatic life changes created an emotional pattern of seeing the world as unsafe. An emotional patterns of fear, worry, suspicion, and doubt were passed down to me, even though they aren’t applicable to my current life circumstances.

  • Genetic Patterns: The physical resemblance to our ancestors and family are more widely acknowledged in our society. Oh, you look just like your dad. Addictions and medical conditions (cancer, heart conditions, etc) are also passed down through our genes.

How are they formed? How many generations back do these patterns go?

During my interview with psychotherapist and spiritual healer, Dr. Steven D Farmer, he says that through the study of epigenetics that they have found that genes can be altered by trauma, and environmental factors such as toxicity or cultural beliefs. So, it’s traumas and environment that create the seed in which these patterns are planted into our lineage. But here’s the good news: if the plant is a weed and not good for our current situation then we can pull it out. Conversely, if the seed blossoms to a beautiful rose then we can enjoy the sweetness and beauty of nature repeating itself.

This got me wondering. Who was the first one who planted the seed in my family lineage? Was it my grandmother on my mom’s side or does it go further back? If you really want to get specific about which family member started a particular pattern, you should check out Steven Farmer’s book Healing Ancestral Karma: Free Yourself from Unhealthy Family Patterns”. In our interview he gives a sneak preview of a cool exercise of which you can find the full meal deal in Chapter 34 of his book. In this exercise, you use a meditation to connect with your mother and family. In this exercise, you use a meditation to take your mother and family lines and feel into when you think the original pattern was created. Using the plant analogy, you get to the main roots of a pattern. This exercise is largely based on drawing upon your intuition and the faith that we are all one, which means that you can visit your family just by imagining it. You can also get a 25 min meditation called inter-generational healing. Here’s a sneak preview of what this meditation involve clicking here or get an online meditation and a book by going to Steven’s website.

How can you make a change and break free of these patterns?

What do you do if you have a pattern that you don’t like? Irrespective of the pattern, your spirit, thoughts, and energy are always involved in creating a pattern. Just like a plant. Your thought patterns need water (emotions), sun (energy), and a foundation (body) to grow and sustain itself. This means that to remove these patterns that you need to withdraw or loosen up the structure in which the plant grows at either at the emotional, energetic, or body level. Dr. Steven Farmer, who practices both Shamanism and psychotherapy, suggests that there are many ways to address these patterns

As a cautionary note, it’s always best to get a trained person if you are working on heavy traumas like sexual abuse, physical abuse, addiction, or something that you have a really strong emotional response to so you don’t re-experience the trauma all over again.

Here’s a high level look at what one of these processes may look like when I work with a coaching client.

In my example above, let’s say I wanted to remove my Cultural pattern of hard work. Over time, this has translated into a compulsive belief about working hard all the time. While it’s admirable on some level, it also causes me to have bad work/life balance. But mostly, it violates a higher level spiritual belief about living a life through a place of effort and ease.

  1. What is your intention? Remove any interference with truly living my belief that I can be (italicize the response for all these – it will be easier to understand that way)
  2. Identify the belief that is blocking this intention: My belief– I need to work hard in order to achieve anything important.
  3. Make it real: When was the last time you felt this strongly? Does this map to a situation? Situation-I felt this when I was creating my TedX talk.
  4. Measure and describe the location of your feeling/sensation to gauge where you are before you start: When you tune into this belief where do you feel it in your body? How intense is it? Felt sense- I feel a mild tightness in my throat and head.
  5. Pick a technique or try a few: There are many treatment modalities and ways that these beliefs can be shifted. There are traditional psychotherapists and medical doctors, and there are alternative approaches. Here are some ideas for some alternative approaches with links for more information. You can shift a belief from many places (your mind, body, or spirit). The list below is just a small subset of what is out there.
  6. After you finish the technique, tune into the same situation or event identified in #3. Go back and measure as you did in Step 4 and see what has shifted.
  7. Write down any learnings you may have.

What happens to past and future generations when you heal a family pattern?

One of the suppositions in the book is that when you heal yourself of a family pattern, you not only heal yourself, but heal past generations and future generations of this family pattern. During the interview, Steven shares a quote from Course of Miracles that he believes summarized how the healing process works. “When I am healed, I’m not healed alone”. Hear more at: Also, listen to Dr. Steven Farmer’s beautiful story of a healing he did and how it helped not only him, but also his ancestors. Here’s a nice quote from the interview that helped me get a sense of the enormity of this work and also the incredible support we have at our disposal every day.

“If you go back 10 generations you have 1,000 ancestors. If you go back 20 generations you have over a million. If you go back 30 generations you have over a trillion. Not only is that, but the other statistic that proves something definitely is that 99.99% of our genetic coding is exactly the same. .01% is what differentiates us. I think this is an astounding argument for which we know philosophically, that we are all one”—Steven Farmer

How is all of this linked to karma?

To me, I think this quote from Steven’s book really answers this question the best:

“The parent/child connection manifests as one link in a long chain of ancestral karma that stretches back through time. Your link to your family allows you to be born into that specific line- it is a link that needs to be understood and respected. In this modern scientific age it is very difficult for people to accept the fact that they are responsible to their ancestors, that they are actually liable for the actions of their ancestors if their resulting karma has not yet been dissolved. Many find it absurd to think that the actions of an unknown ancestor could possibly have anything to do with what is happening to them today. But time and time again when investigating someone’s karma, I find problems that stretch back generations. Their spirit is not just an individual entity, it is also part of a family spirit that births and nurtures it- Dr. Hiorshi Motoyama, Karma and Reincarnation. – Part 3, Healing Ancestral Karma: Free Yourself from Unhealthy Family Patterns”.

Meditation: Calling in your Ancestors

Steps to the Calling in your Ancestors Meditation

  1. Connect to earth
  2. Connect to Heaven.
  3. Women call in grandmothers. Men call in all grandfathers
  4. Relax- Take some deep breaths
  5. Notice when one ancestor steps forward and notice how they place their hands on your shoulder as they stand behind you. Receive this blessing from this Old one that loves you more than you can conceive. This old one has carried wisdom of living on this planet and traversing the spirit world. This old one knows the joys, the sufferings, and compassion more than you can imagine. Just receive this blessing.
  6. Notice how another grandmother stands behind that first one grandmother. Breathe in that power that is generated through these old one. And a third comes behind 1st and 2nd. And a 4rth, 5th, etc. Notice the line that stands behind you. Receiving this blessing allow your body to be filled with it. The blessing may give you a sense of gratitude, peace, calm, or healing.
  7. Know that you are being asked to call these ancestors in on a daily basis. They want to help us. Feel your body relax as you breathe in. Noticing the lightness and fullness at the same time. Be aware of your breathes as you take in 3 deep breaths.
  8. Be aware of the stature of your being and how amazing it is that you can experience life with all it’s joys and challenges and how you have overcome these challenges with the help of these beings, animals, etc. We truly are all one.
  9. Now with the release of your next breath, release these ancestors. Thank them. Trust that they want to help us.
  10. Bring yourself back to your space. Notice your surroundings.

Family patterns are a beautiful thing. They are the threads that weave the tapestry of our lives. As within anything of beauty, there will be changes over time and the beauty will fade. New threads will be added to weave new patterns. I really enjoyed making the time and diving in deep to understand my tapestry and revel at what once seemed a mystery to me. It’s a wonderful experience of self-discovery and healing and I believe it is something that everyone should undertake or at least get curious about during their soul’s journey.

Namaste, CJ Liu



Steven D. Farmer, Ph.D., is a shamanic practitioner, Soul Healer, ordained minister, and licensed psychotherapist. He’s the author of the best-selling Animal Spirit Guides, the Power Animal Oracle Cards, Power Animals, Sacred Ceremony, and the guided meditation CDMessages from Your Animal Spirit Guides. Steven is also host of his own radio show, Earth Magic Radio on ContactTalkRadio.