Ep. 21 | Gila Golub | Life Through The Lens Of Lineage
~ Gila Golub
In this episode, counselor and teacher Gila Golub describes how generationally past patterns shape our present relationships and realities. Through her own story and study, Gila shares; ‘when we are unable to change a situation or relationship, we need to change ourselves and often the insight for that change is gained when we are willing to tolerate the discomfort of delving into our past.’
Gila GolubGila Golub is a counselor and teacher. She discovers and studies hidden dynamics in family relationships as well as corporate structures. Her work reveals and transforms dysfunctional patterns, and self-sabotaging habits.
Gila’s work is synthesized upon a lifetime of study and practice, exploring behaviors passed through multi-generations. She offers insights and techniques which lead to lasting growth and healing.
Ep. 21 | Gila Golub | Life Through The Lens Of Lineage
Rachel Cram – Gila, are you called counselor or what is the term you are most comfortable with?
Gila Golub – What I’m most comfortable with is teacher.
Rachel Cram – OK
Gila Golub – That doesn’t really tell people I am a counselor.
Rachel Cram – Yeah, so I’ll say teacher and counselor.
Gila Golub – Yes
Rachel Cram – Ok. So we are with teacher and counselor Gila Golub. Gila, thank you so much for welcoming us into your home today and into your studio.
Gila Golub – My pleasure.
Rachel Cram – So, I wanted to start just by asking you , you spea to people about their families or origin.
Gila Golub – That is correct.
Rachel Cram – And how their families of origin have affected them. Before we jump into that, I’m wondering, can you just tell us a little bit about how your family of origin has affected the women that you are today?
Gila Golub – I’d be happy to. So in 1914, both my grandfathers came to Canada. My Mother wasn’t born yet in Latvia and the war broke out and so her Mother was cut off. She had four babies and then she gave birth to my Mother in the middle of the war without any contact with the dad. So, no money, no food. So, my Mother was born into violence, starvation and the absence of her father. She didn’t meet him until she was almost seven years old. She didn’t have lunch as they say in my family, until she was almost seven years old.
Rachel Cram – Didn’t have lunch?
Gila Golub – Well, it’s an expression. It means she didn’t have a proper meal until they left Latvia. So my mother had a lifelong lack-program, bitterness and anger. She was insatiable. Nothing was good enough. No one was good enough and I grew up with that. Not feeling good enough. Feeling stupid. Feeling undeserving. Feeling inadequate. And then I replicated that in my marriage because we do replicate everything from our early childhood in our adult lives. And, by the time I replicated that in my marriage, I had two beautiful healthy children and a wonderful home and a great career. But I was desperately unhappy and I sought help and I healed my life, my marriage. Healed my family.
Rachel Cram – As you were talking about your mom it made me think of something I’ve heard you refer to. When your mom was going through those struggles in her early years, you were inside of her already.
Gila Golub – That is correct.
Rachel Cram – That’s fascinating because that’s true of all of us. Can you just talk about that a little bit. What do we know about that now?
Gila Golub – Well, the famous study was done at the University Atlanta where they had mice smell cherry blossoms while they were giving them electric shock. And then they bred the mice for three more generations and then those grand mice puppies were given cherry blossoms to smell and they went into an electric shock response. We now know that we pass on trauma through the mitochondrial DNA.
So whatever trauma has happened in our family system eventually gets passed on. One of my disciplines is called Family Constellation Therapy, where we actually look at an issue that someone has now, that can be connected to a parent, a grandparent, generations past.
Rachel Cram – And this is a big part of your work with clients isn’t it. Looking at how the attachments or lack of attachments from their past, affect and shape the people that they are today.
Gila Golub – Exactly. We are all the product of our family systems for many generations. Everyone’s family of origin affects the people that they are today. There’s research going on all over the world.
Rachel Cram – It’s fascinating.
Gila Golub – It really is. It’s fascinating from my perspective because it helps people heal their lives. In family constellation there’s sort of four themes. One of the themes is break in the bond from Mother. We know alot about the developing brain now, particularly through the work of people like Daniel Siegel. Dan Siegel’s a professor of psychiatry at UCLA. And we know that the mind of a baby up to the first six years is building a million neuro pathways a second. So a baby left in the hospital for the first month of her or his life; how can they trust? How can they feel deserving? Development is arrested at that point and we know that that arrested development stays with us for the rest of our lives.
Rachel Cram – You’ve described the work of Family Constellation therapy as a process of, and I’m quoting you here,“Making the unconscious conscious so that we can make sense of ourselves and our lives.” So an inability to trust or to feel self worth can actually go back to disruption in attachment during the formative years of childhood – like this baby separated from its parent?
Gila Golub – Exactly, it’s a break in the bond from Mother. That’s what they call it in family constellation work.
Rachel Cram – Interesting, so what’s another theme?
Gila Golub – So, another element of family constellation work is something called merging where we want to be close to a parent. So in a way to be close to a parent, we become like the parent. So for example, I had a fellow who was a physician, who shut down his medical practice, a very successful one, at the age of 52 and went looking all over the world for help because of unbearable extreme anxiety. He was sent to me after he’d done some pretty serious hallucinogenic drugs and ended up in emergency frequently.
I said, “Where’s your dad?”
He said, “My dad’s dead.”
How old was he when he died? He said, “52”.
How did he die? He said, “He killed himself. So you always wanted to be close to your dad. He said, “Oh yes always.” But you could never succeed. “No I couldn’t.”
So now, in a way be close to your dad, you have what’s called an unconscious loyalty to your dad saying unconsciously. “Well Dad in order to be close to you I’ll be like you. And to be like you – well then I won’t have a good marriage and I won’t have a thriving career and I won’t have a long life. Because for the last two years, you shut down your medical practice when you were 52 the same age as your dad was when he died.”
Rachel Cram – So these patterns from our past. Am I interrupting right there?
Gila Golub – It’s good and perfect.
Rachel Cram – I’m assuming Gila there must be positive patterns and negative patterns.
Gila Golub – Absolutely yes.
Rachel Cram – I’ve heard you tell this poignant story about the psychiatrist and sex therapist Dr. Ruth Westheimer on losing her entire family in the Holocaust. And I’m wondering, could you tell that story? Because I think that’s a good example of positive patterns from the past.
Gila Golub – I’d be happy to. So Dr. Ruth was asked, “How could you, having lost your entire family and being an orphan at 10 years old, have created such a wonderful marriage, a beautiful family and a thriving career?”
And she said in that wonderful thick German accent, which I won’t try to do.
Rachel Cram – You were considering it though.
Gila Golub – I was considering it. I was considering it. Which I won’t do.
She said, “Well the answer to that question is in the question.” She said, “I was 10 years old, so I had my family for those first formative years. And I came from an Orthodox Jewish family, so we had structure and ritual and ceremony and rites of passage. And we had a rich, beautiful life. So that even though I was an orphan by the time I was 10, I had that start.
It’s the first six years. Attachment is everything. We are organisms of attachment.
Musical interlude #1
Rachel Cram – So in the midst of that attachment, as parents, we bring the attachments that we’ve had in our past into our new attachment.
Gila Golub – That’s exactly right.
Rachel Cram – We live out the positive and the negative. And I understand that you’re not blaming parents in this process.
Gila Golub – Never
Rachel Cram – This is not a setup to look back and blame.
Gila Golub – Never. Absolutely never. John Bradshaw said, “Our whole life can’t work until we heal with our parents.” I prefer to say, “Our whole life can work when we heal with our parents.”
Rachel Cram – And we all need to do that.
Gila Golub – We all need to do that. And there are a lot of people who don’t realize they need to do that.
Rachel Cram – What age would you say we come into a place to need to start doing that?
Gila Golub – What an interesting question.
Rachel Cram – Where are we capable of starting?
Gila Golub – As soon as we notice that we’re struggling, I would say, is the answer to that. As soon as we notice that we’re having difficulty with our abundance, with our health and with our relationships
Rachel Cram – “With our abundance?” What do you mean by that?
Gila Golub – Some people have a lack-program and are always broke. It takes over their lives. So not enough. Not enough. So we think there’s not going to be enough love and sex and money and support and validation and adulation and acceptance and approval.
Rachel Cram – And so what does that do to us?
Gila Golub – It keeps us from remembering the truth of who we are. It keeps us from having a love affair with ourselves. And the actual destination of the journey that my clients take with me is to have an unconditional and committed love affair with themselves. Because from that place we can create abundance, health and loving relationships. How can I teach my children to love themselves if I don’t love myself? And how could my mother have taught me to do that if she didn’t love herself? So we can’t give what we didn’t get.
Rachel Cram – You know it’s really interesting, we often want to fix our kids but we don’t want to look at ourselves, perhaps because it’s harder, or perhaps because we don’t know there’s anything to look at. And what you’re saying is that we need to fix ourselves first.
Gila Golub – I am. We parents must make sense of our own lives first; of the experiences that we had and how those have shaped our brains in order to make sense of our children. So do you love your children enough to make sense of your own life? Do you have the courage to observe and heal your own issues and deal with them so your children don’t have to?
Rachel Cram – So Gila, where do you begin? I know there is a question that you ask your clients before they start one of your workshops. You ask them to please share the worst and best of their childhoods. Why do you need to start with questions like that?
Gila Golub – I want to know what their traumas were. I want to know all about the challenges they had as little children. I want to know if they were abused and how they were abused and when they were abused. I want to know if they were abandoned by their parents or a parent or adopted and all of those things. And then I want to know the best parts so I can find out what mitigated the traumas.
Rachel Cram – When you make the comment, which you did a moment ago, that we all need to heal with our parents, I’m wondering if sometimes the word trauma might be a bit of a barrier for some people. Do you have any examples that are more in the everyday realm of those types of traumas that we pass on?
Gila Golub – Okay. So now we find that parents are pushing their children more and more. You have to understand the developing mind. You have to understand that a child when they’re two years old doesn’t know how to share. And when you shame your child and you make your child wrong for not sharing, not understanding where the child is developmentally and making them wrong for being where they are. And Deborah McNamara’s book called, Rest Play Grow really lays out for parents what to expect in the various developmental stages so that we don’t expect our two year olds to be sharing when they have not yet developed anything with which to understand the concept of sharing. So we can understand that our three year olds are not responsible for the emotional well-being of the adults in their lives. So we can stop saying, “You’re making mommy sad, and you’re making Daddy angry.” If we can take all that weight off of them.
Rachel Cram – So even the most loving of parents, if we ask things of our children that they are not yet ready to achieve, if they’re not developmentally accessible to them at that point in time, those are the sorts of things that can seem like they are not a big deal, but those are big deals.
Gila Golub – Well we’re making our child wrong for being who they are. So how do they have a love affair with themselves? How do they accept and value and validate and acknowledge themselves?
Rachel Cram – Well you’re talking about educating ourselves. But one of the frustrations I think is that we can study for child one and get it and then we have our second child or our third child. And it seems like the whole paradigm shifts. How do you address that as the parent?
Gila Golub – You learn to read your child. So some children are born far more sensitively than others. But no child is born into the same family because it’s already a different family when that child is born into it.
Rachel Cram – Because you’ve already got another child there.
Gila Golub – That’s right. Or two or three. Or in your case, your sixth child was born into a family with five children, a very different family than your first child was born into.
Rachel Cram – Yeah, that’s so true.
Gila Golub – So what we have to learn to do is read our child. To listen. Yes some children are born far more sensitively than others. You have to learn to read each child based on the child’s own needs and personality. So you have to make a greater effort with the ones that are more difficult to read or more difficult to connect with.
I have a family right now where the mother is not connected at all to one of her children and very connected to the other. And I worry about the one that she’s not connected to. And I’m just beginning to work with that and see what that’s about for her from her family system.
Everything that’s happening to us now in our lives is a replication. There’s no new stories, only recycled ones. And sometimes when we find the original wound, the original story, the original trauma. That alone can heal it. Or sometimes when we find it there’s remedial work to do.
Musical interlude #2
Rachel Cram – There’s a Carl Jung quote I know you use in your work Gila, he says “Until you make the unconscious conscious it will direct your life and you’ll call it fate.” It’s like putting on glasses I think to see things in a different way.
Gila Golub – It’s interesting that you say putting on glasses. About 18 years ago I took a workshop with Bruce Lipton, the cellular biologist, who taught us all about perception. He spent four years in a laboratory at Stanford proving that our perception creates our reality. And where do we get our perception? From our parents. From our family system.
We were all given a pair of red glasses and blue glasses and he showed a picture on his screen. And when we looked through the red glasses, we saw the silhouette of a beautiful lady. And when we looked through the blue glasses, we saw an ugly Crone with big hair growing out of her nose. So he showed many pictures with those red and blue glasses to demonstrate perception. And we are all looking at the world through the lenses of our family systems. And that perception shapes your life and your experience of everything.
Rachel Cram – The last 15/20 years, with the whole study of neuroscience and neuroplasticity, it brings things like this into play.
Gila Golub – That’s exactly right. This understanding of neuroplasticity is the best news ever because we can heal our minds. The mind is plastic. The good news is that everything can be healed.
Rachel Cram – I think some of us may feel like that’s going to be so messy. Digging into my past, into my childhood; that’s going to be so complicated. It’s going to cause chaos. It’s going to make things worse not better.
Gila Golub – Yeah it could get messy. It could stir up things. It could be difficult. It could be uncomfortable. Are you willing to sit in the discomfort to heal your life and change the trajectory of your children’s lives? So, I worked with 16 people in each workshop. I would say 80 percent of them come from alcoholism and divorce. And then usually 80 percent of them are also divorced. It gets passed on.
Rachel Cram – In what way? What passes it on?
Gila Golub – That’s how you grow up. That’s how you learned to do relationship. You don’t learn to do relationship. You don’t know how to honor yourself.
No two people come together by chance, in a life partnership or even a business partnership. They come together because they have similar unresolved family of origin issues that are meant to be brought up. Not so you can point a finger and blame. But that’s what we do: point a finger and blame. And then we point a finger and blame all the way into divorce instead of taking the finger back and realizing that what our partner is mirroring to us is our own unresolved issues. So, person comes to me and says, “My partner is rude and nasty and disrespectful to me.”
And I ask, “And where are you rude and nasty and disrespectful to yourself? How do you see yourself? How do you speak to yourself? What is your inner dialogue? Do you walk around saying Oh you’re stupid you’re so stupid?” Because that’s what I did. That was the story of my marriage.
Rachel Cram – You make the statement that, “It only takes one to heal a relationship.”
Gila Golub – Yes exactly. So, eventually I get married and my husband alters amends and contradicts every word I say. I am devastated by this. I am almost destroyed by this. And I think that he is the meanest, nastiest person on the planet and cruel and horrible to treat me like that. And we go to all these therapists and all these psychologists and all these psychiatrists. And finally I find a teacher who explains to me that he is a reflector; a mirror. And it’s me that is disrespectful to me. It’s me that thinks I’m stupid. It’s me that doesn’t honor me. And then, slowly slowly, over time, I learn to love, respect and honor myself and it changes. We’ve moved now 180 degrees. So it was me that changed the reflection and then changed the legacy, changed the trajectory of the lives of my children.
Musical interlude #3
Rachel Cram – That’s such a great testimonial. You dug in and did your own work. That’s a
Gila Golub – That’s right
Rachel Cram – That is such a paradigm shift in how I think we sometimes, more naturally, want to address healing in our relationships. We want to go in and change our partner, not ourselves. It’s hard.
Gila Golub – I get that. But by learning to tolerate what makes us feel uncomfortable we begin to free ourselves from our internal prison. You were talking about creating the chaos. And it’s too messy. What would make you afraid of the messy? Of the chaos? The fear is that it will always be chaos. The fear is we can never come back to what we call normal. But look what’s now normal.
Wouldn’t you rather be in the discomfort of what you perceive to be the chaos, the upheaval of going inside and doing your own inner work? Wouldn’t you rather take that risk and be in that discomfort to heal whatever is meant to be healed in that family system? Wouldn’t you rather open that Pandora’s box then have a child in misery in depression in anxiety in addiction in rage?
Rachel Cram – Well, I think there’s a bit of transparency that happens in a parent to show a child that kind of chaos in their own life. We can sometimes think, well then that breaks down my ‘I’ve got it together front,’ as a parent. The front that I need to put forward as being large and in charge.
Gila Golub – Oh I love that question Rachel. Parents often say to me, “Oh, we never fight in front of the children and they have no idea about it.” So, whether you think your children kno that you are in chaos or not, they do.
They may not consciously know, “Oh, Mom’s in chaos. Mom’s insecure. Mom’s unhappy. Dad’s unbearably stressed,” Parents often say, “We don’t show that to the children but whatever thoughts we’re having are emitting vibrations. That’s science. Our thoughts emit a vibration. So as Daniel Siegel says, “Our environment creates our mind and then our mind creates our environment.”
So, whatever our parents are thinking, whether they realize it or not, the children are little geiger counters, picking it up, and are at the effect of the thoughts of the parents, whether the parents realize what they’re thinking or not. Because two percent of what we’re thinking; I just made that number up, it’ll do for now, are from our conscious mind. The rest is from our unconscious. And it is fueling the relational field of the family. So there’s no such thing as you know hanging on to your own dark side. It’s there. It’s seeping out. It’s coming out in the vibration of your thoughts and in pheromones.
Rachel Cram – So we might as well step up and deal with the dark side.
Gila Golub – Might as well. Might as well. Because our children will be at the effect of it anyway. Whereas if we do step up and do our own work it gives our kids such a better chance to transform the dark sides of our family system.
Rachel Cram – And not repeat the same pattern.
Gila Golub – Exactly and not repeat the same patterns.
Rachel Cram – Gila as we start to wrap up this interview, I’m wondering if I can actually stir the pot a little bit because as I’ve been listening to you I have this awareness that we need to look at our family of origins but one day we will be the family of origin and we will be culpable in the hurts and the anxieties which are conscious and unconscious in the lives of our own children.
Gila Golub – I love the way you’ve put that together Rachel. That is absolutely true. And I like to say if you don’t want to experience parental guilt, culpability, then don’t have children because there’s no way around it. The whole point of doing your own work is finding self acceptance, and accepting yourself as the parent who didn’t do it perfectly.
The important thing to know, for each parent in the world today, is that you are your child’s best bet. There’s no doubt about that. So bring new eyes to your children, learn about the developmental process and above all, accept yourself so that your children can learn to accept themselves.
Rachel Cram – Gila thank you so much for your time today. This has been fascinating.
Gila Golub – My pleasure.