Generational trauma manifests itself in many ways.
Though it can be the source of anxiety we feel, many of us are unaware of the impact it has on our daily life. Managing panic attacks and improving mental health is a topic that needs closer attention. Jay Shetty aims to support his listeners' educational journey on mental health by discussing it from different angles with his podcast guests.
This episode's guest is songwriter and singer Meghan Trainor. After becoming famous with her sit song, All About that Base, Trainor went on to achieve eight platinum singles and two platinum albums and has received many awards for her work, including a Grammy for Best New Artist.
The Early Years
Trainor grew up in Nantucket, Massachusetts, together with two brothers. It was a small town where many of her friends turned to alcohol and drugs because of the lack of other distractions. She first realized that she lived in a small bubble when she left home as a college student. While completing her college studies, she worked as a songwriter at the age of 19.
Her parents have always been her most incredible supporters. Today, her mother also works as her assistant. Having the encouragement of her family was essential to Trainor. It gave her the power and boldness to continue despite uncertainty.
However, as loving as Trainor's family has been, there were still some “dark clouds,” as she told Jay Shetty.
Breaking Generational Trauma
Trainor has been working on improving herself and breaking generational trauma through therapy sessions. She explained to Jay Shetty how her parents would refuse to go into therapy themselves, even though their behavior negatively influenced their children at times.
Trainor recalls how her mother would never want to appear in pictures due to her low self-esteem. Unfortunately, this is one trait that got passed on, she admitted to Jay Shetty.
Moreover, one of her brothers used to be an alcoholic who only recently recovered from his addiction. Seeing all these negative behaviors unfold in her family, Trainor decided to heal. She chose to do things differently because she wants her children to grow up without these harmful behaviors around them.
Songs Reflect the Inner Journey
When Trainor wrote her number one song, All About That Base, it was a joke. She remembered growing up as a chubby kid and wrote about being confident despite bullies. She was taken aback by the song's success, which she hadn't anticipated.
Nowadays, she writes her songs from a place of healing. As Trainor explained to Jay Shetty,”You're hearing a healed, mature mother, who is just ruthlessly honest.”
What People Think
Trainor realized that the more true to herself she was, the more people started to be attracted to her. She posts goofy but honest pictures from her everyday life on social media and receives positive feedback. Many of her followers can identify with her posts, which make her more human and tangible.
It is easy to misunderstand someone's inner struggles. Trainor's mother couldn't understand her panic attacks before watching Carson Daly on The Today Show, who explained it in detail. To Meghan Trainor, it was saddening that her mother, who is also her best friend, couldn't grasp what she was going through.
Managing Panic Attacks
Panic attacks are familiar territory for Trainor. She had her first one in New York after discussing her schedule for the day with her assistant. She sought the help of a psychiatrist in managing her anxiety, and was prescribed antidepressants.
She also self-medicated with weed to keep her anxiety levels low. But after becoming pregnant, her doctor advised her against continuing her treatment with antidepressants, which she wasn't prepared to do.
After changing doctors, she was told she could continue her medication. Despite getting the all clear, she experienced heavy bias from medical professionals. They judged her for taking antidepressants during pregnancy and blamed her difficult birth experience, that included a c-section and a five day NICU stay for her baby on the pills.
Though there is no decisive study that links antidepressants to gestational issues, Trainor is working on lowering her dosage to be medication-free for any future pregnancy.
Trainor explained to Jay Shetty that some of her family members turned to substance abuse in dark times. They wouldn't admit that they had a problem and would not seek medical attention for their mental health.
Despite being surrounded by addiction, Trainor remained sober. She turned to professionals to assist her with her anxiety, and she doesn't regret this choice.
What helped Trainor find her path was her close bond with her older brother, who also suffered from panic attacks. She felt understood. He was her “solider brother,” as she told Jay Shetty.
Trainor shared that acceptance was one significant factor in her seeking medical care. But unfortunately, she didn't find that level of understanding in her mother, who dismissed her symptoms by telling her that she was “fine,” even during a panic attack.
Pay It Forward
In her podcast Workin' On It, Trainor aims to give back to her listeners. She hopes to change their lives for the better. First, she inspired her brother to seek therapy, and now she continues to advocate for mental health.
Growing up in a family shadowed by generational trauma, Trainor broke free. She is part of the first generation to seek help, convinced there are many more people in similar positions.
She shared with Jay Shetty: “There are still parents out there that are like mine, that are uneducated, and don't know. And they're raising babies like me who didn't know and had that stigma forever.”
Having a chemical imbalance in our bodies can alter our state of mind. For example, Jay Shetty shared how he suffered from a lack of vitamin D in the past year. His levels were so low that his physician was surprised he wasn't feeling depressed.
Trainor can relate to this story. Her doctors also suggested that chemical imbalances in her body are the reason for her anxiety.
The songwriter also decided to change her diet to heal. She understood that low-quality food is tightly related to anger issues. She’s seen this connection at play in easily irritable family members who eat fast food regularly.
Jay Shetty admits to also having been addicted to sugar. It was a habit that was difficult to rid himself of.
“Our biggest crisis is a crisis of habits. Life is defined by habits. And we've just adopted a ton of bad habits mentally, physically, emotionally,” he added.
Trainor didn't receive much grace in her early years except from her parents. Having a few extra pounds, she was wary of her physical appearance.
However, her world changed when she met her now husband, Daryl Sabara. He treated her with kindness and understanding. It was then that Trainor fell in love and felt they could be together forever. She had finally met her soul mate, who taught her self-love and acceptance.
Trainor encourages listeners to never give up on finding true love, and most importantly, to not settle for less than what they deserve.
“Hey, don't settle [for less], you know, because there's a guy out there that will rub your nasty feet after a two-hour show. And will worship the ground you walk on. They exist,” Trainor told Jay Shetty.
It was difficult for the songwriter to love her body. She shared with Jay Shetty that she had lost considerable weight in the past years. However, she still needs to tell herself to accept her body consciously.
Her therapist suggested one exercise which was intended to teach her self-love. It entailed watching herself naked in the mirror for at least five minutes.
It was challenging to embrace her body, especially after pregnancy and a c-section. However, in time, looking at herself in the mirror became easy for Trainor.
“This is our shell. This is our body. This is what we got. So, let's treat it well,” the songwriter told Jay Shetty.
She worked hard on accepting compliments from others. It has been a long and bumpy road. She is still in process, but she has come a long way. Trainor even wrote a song about her journey called Working On It.
Jay Shetty recalls learning to receive compliments as part of his monk training. It consisted of two steps. The first step was to “acknowledge someone who decided to compliment you versus criticize you.”
And second, the trainees had to consider where they received their quality. This way, they learned to turn a compliment into gratitude.
It is crucial to understand we all have emotional baggage that we carry with us through life. Correcting our destructive behaviors and healing from our traumas is entirely up to us.
Meghan Trainor gave a beautiful example of how one can overcome generational trauma and seek professional help, even in a hostile environment. She encourages the listeners to pursue healing instead of turning to substance abuse to manage their anxiety.
More From Jay Shetty
Listen to the entire On Purpose with Jay Shetty podcast episode on “Breaking Generational Trauma & How To Be Confident From the Inside Out” now in the iTunes store or on Spotify. For more inspirational stories and messages like this, check out Jay’s website at jayshetty.me.