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Interview with Martyn
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Family Secrets & Family Karma
Dangers of staying quiet © Martyn Carruthers

Online Life Coaching, Counseling & Soulwork Therapy

I often say that there's no such thing as family secrets.
People express their darkest secrets in their everyday lives.
Secret-keepers (and their children) carry heavy emotional burdens.

If you are hiding secrets, you are probably hiding strong emotions.
You may feel anger, fear or distress if you suspect that
someone knows or may talk about your secrets!

Hearing what you cannot say

When do family secrets start? Many things can be "starts" - finding a family member's secret bottles, hidden porn or letters from overly friendly friends - but those are not starts. Alcohol, pornography or extra-marital affairs are single frames of movies that started a long time ago.

Laundry workers are experts on stains, and they might tell you a surprising amount about your life based on the stains on your clothes. As we help people clean up their emotional laundry baskets, we have learned some important things about emotional stains ... and we have become rather effective at emotional stain-removal.

We help people unpack and sort out their emotional baggage. We can recognize many behaviors that suggest certain emotional or relationship problems. We often see what people cannot say.

Disclosing family secrets can be difficult. Both telling and not-telling can have strong consequences. For example, if a child uses a parent’s computer and finds pornography or emails about extra-marital affairs - that child may confront the parent, or tell the other parent, or delete the files, or say and do nothing. Actions have emotional and relationship consequences. Sometimes there's no easy way out.

Doing nothing or pretending to forget may seem the safest and easiest course of action, but suppressing emotions often has toxic consequences - for yourself, your partner and your children. Secrets motivate obsessions, compulsions or fixations. Some people put their lives on hold or avoid further relationships. Clarity may be painful, but it can help avoid depression and help manage grief and loss.

Family secrets can trigger strong emotions. If a conversation gets too close to the truth, or if you are unsure whether or not your secret is still secret, you may feel and express anger, fear, sadness or guilt. You will likely confuse your family, and perhaps start a chain reaction which can affect your children and even future generations.

Some people cannot maintain healthy relationships.
They may be unable to  enjoy healthy partnership or parenthood
until they clarify and assimilate their family secrets!

Cross-Generational Enmeshments (Family Karma)

Relationship disappointments such as abuse, abandonment, suicide, abortion and betrayal leave imprints on people, their families and their children,  which result in obsessions, fixations and compulsions.

Do you have unwanted habits of thought, speech or behavior? Are you making choices – or repeating past behaviors, rather like a laboratory animal in a maze? (While many people repeat what works - some people endlessly repeat what doesn't work!)

The Sanskrit word karma implies that individual actions can trigger cycles of cause and effect; cycles that may continue after the death of the body. By family karma, I refer to actions that trigger similar cycles in subsequent generations. Family karma continues until families manage or change whatever created it.

Family karma (like money karma) often begins with habits learned in childhood - habits that were imprinted into our minds. You cannot free yourself of such habits by avoiding thinking about them or by understanding them. (Did your parents want to free themselves of their parents' habits? Are you repeating their life path?)

Your parents' secrets probably still influence your relationships, your career and your everyday behavior. Recognizing and healing their habits in your mind can liberate you. We help people heal such habits, end self-sabotage and realize their dreams.

I am married but I am obsessed by a man I work with, although I don't like him,
his friends or what he does with his life. When I described him to my mother,
she said that she had a secret romance with a man rather like him,
but that she would not leave my father. She also said that HER
mother had mentioned a similar romance.

Family secrets often concern relationship problems that cause people to split-off parts of themselves (often called inner children). Do you want to integrate your split-off parts, and experience integrity - the Soul of our Soulwork?

You react to your parent's secrets ... even if you were never told!

The best gifts you can give to your children may be to sort out your own emotions, to build a healthy partnership and to be a happy, responsible parent. Can you and your partner can express mature love for each other?

Your children react to your secrets ... even if you never told them!

If you lack healthy partnership skills, then you may hand down relationship problems, loneliness, depression and guilt to your children ... and later to their children ... and so on, across the generations. Let's look at some literature ...

Yet He does not leave the guilty unpunished; He punishes
the children and their children for the sins of the parents
to the third and fourth generations.

New International Bible, Exodus 34:7

Imber-Black wrote (Secret Life of Families, 1998) "a child’s knowledge of a secret may distort family power dynamics, alienate a child from one or both parents, and isolate him or her from siblings".

Lerner wrote (Dance of Deception, 1993) "The negative effects of secrecy on children may stay underground for years, even decades, until the child reaches a key anniversary age or a particular stage in the family life cycle". He also wrote, "In the shadow of secrecy, children are especially vulnerable to acting out or developing symptoms".

Earle & Earle wrote (Sex Addiction: Case Studies and Management, 1995) "The secrets of parents cannot help but prove destructive to the child. ... Secrets creep into every aspect of family living, creating high levels of psychological stress, pressure, and tension. ... Children may not even be consciously aware of the family secrets, but these secrets seldom escape the unconscious.

Carl Jung said (Disclosure to Children, Claudia Black, 2003), "The most important gift a parent can give a child is to tell them about their dark side. Telling children about your struggles helps them developmentally to have a realistic picture of what it means to be human".

All my life I felt guilty. During our sessions I realized that I always felt a presence in front of me
... like an older brother. My parents won't talk about their abortion but you helped me deal with it,
and now I can better relax and enjoy life ...

What Do You (Really) Want?

Your life purpose is an evolving destination that mirrors your maturity.

We help adults define and achieve their desires, and solve their relationship problems and emotional conflicts. As examples, do you want to:

  • Enjoy happy partnership?
  • Maintain your desired weight?
  • Be a successful entrepreneur?
  • Develop healthy parenthood skills?
  • Transition into enjoyable retirement?
  • Enjoy life without guilt or inner conflict?

We help people sort out their emotional baggage. We offer structure, support and feedback to help people develop their awareness, manage their emotions and improve their relationships.

Resolve your ancestral secrets or family karma
before your children attempt to repeat them.

Are you repeating your parents' or grandparents drama?
Contact us to change your emotional problems and relationship habits

Online Coaching, Counseling & Soulwork Therapy

I thought you were just another therapist - but you were not just. Not even. Not only.

Plagiarism is theft. Copyright © Martyn Carruthers 2011-2018
All rights reserved

If you like our work, please link to us. If you know someone who might benefit,
please mention or

For online help, email us at:

Soulwork systemic coaching in America & Hawaii


Soulwork systemic coaching in England, Wales & Scotland

Soulwork systemic coaching in Croatia & Serbia

Soulwork systemic coaching in Poland



Have You Suffered Enough?

 Where are you now? Understand your emotions, fixations and enmeshments
What do you hope for? Know your goals and stop sabotaging yourself
Do you feel resourceful? Learn to develop your inner resources
Do emotions block you? Relationship problems and mentor damage
Do your beliefs limit you? Change limiting beliefs and end dependence
Do you feel connected? Resolve identity issues to recover lost resources
Is your partner happy? Build healthy partnership (or separate peacefully)
Are your children healthy? Happy parents better manage family problems
Do you want team success? Team leaders and their teams develop together
Do you have complex goals? Specialty coaching, counseling & therapy

Plagiarism is theft. Copyright © Martyn Carruthers 1996-2018  All rights reserved. Soulwork Systemic Coaching was primarily developed by Martyn Carruthers to help people solve emotional problems and relationship conflicts to achieve their goals. These concepts and strategies are for general knowledge only. Consult a physician about medical conditions and before changing medical treatment. Don't steal intellectual property ... get permission to post, publish or teach Martyn's work - email