Cycle breaker: what it means and how to become one

cycle breaker

You may have seen the term cycle breaker on Instagram and other media. It refers to someone challenging past generational patterns so they can live differently.

A cycle breaker works to free themselves from the chains of dysfunctional family bonds. Their work in turn frees the generations that come after them.

It does not affect the generations before them. No matter how hard you wish it did.

Let me be clear: there is no evidence that your improved mental health will have any impact on your family of origin.

There is no evidence that your improved mental health will have a positive impact on your family Click To Tweet

In fact, it might make them double down on their abuse of you. They become more rigid in their patterns and roles, and scapegoat you as the problem.

The cycle breaker fantasy

I’ve noticed a reticence among some doing the work of cycle breaker. They hold onto the fantasy of their dysfunctional family members changing as a result of their hard work.

Instead of focusing on themselves and their healing, they take on a savior role. They are working not for themselves, but to save the family from itself.

“If only they could see the truth that I see, they would understand and change.”

You may have heard that your new ways will have a positive impact on your family. Not so.

Often, families (consciously or not) decide to avoid the truth so they can maintain the status quo. They are terrified of change and make a group effort to suppress the facts you’re trying to reveal.

That’s when they smear your name to people outside the family. They want to make sure you’re not taken seriously so they don’t risk exposure.

Your good intentions will likely never be recognized or returned by these people. If you’re a cycle breaker hoping your family will change, I urge you to let go of that misguided belief.

You take on this responsibility because they’ve primed you since childhood to believe it’s yours to carry. Your purpose in healing must extend beyond yourself because you don’t want to be selfish.

You may also overestimate your power because you needed to believe you had control as a child. You had to believe you had the power to win your parents’ love because you’d die without it.

How to be free

cycle breaker

But, as long as you think you have the power to change your family, you will never be free. The best thing you can do for your healing is to forget about them and focus on you.

As long as you think you have the power to change your family, you will never be free Click To Tweet

The most powerful thing you can do for yourself and generations to come is stop caring what they do or think. All that energy and focus you’ve been directing toward them to no avail – turn it toward yourself.

And, remember to go easy on yourself while establishing things like boundaries with these people. It’s natural to blame yourself and your imperfect execution for your family’s diabolical response to your healing.

But, that’s the old you taking on things outside your control. It’s the you who wants to take responsiblity for others’ obscene behavior.

It’s the you who expects herself to get things right the first time. Even when she’s had no support or role model and the work is excruciatingly hard and brave.

Instead, give yourself a pat on the back for taking on this challenge no one in your family has the courage to face. And give yourself a hug when you don’t do it perfectly.

And, remember, they won’t change even when you do.

My private 1:1 support program Turning the Gaze Within is now open. To learn more and get support, click here.

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  1. Catherine Ann

    Thank you! Thank you! The angels from above knew I needed this at this moment! I am coming back to myself after months of very difficult work that culminated in being face to face with 20 “family” members in denial. I had not seen these individuals in 10 to 20 years. Brutal! And yet…that light of hope was still in me….if only…as they ignored my request so many years ago to choose. You know how that went! Thank you for your beautiful voice and reminding me that I am not alone. God bless my fellow warriors. We are united in our amazing courage and strength.

    • Hi Catherine, I’m so grateful this post has been helpful to you. You are absolutely not alone in dealing with family who don’t and won’t understand. Glad you’re here.