Some say it’s learned behavior; others believe it’s genetic. But if “procrastination” is your middle name; your father’s anger issues seem to be rubbing off on you and your siblings; or, like your mom, you’ve found yourself stumbling all over the place after too many spirits, you might be experiencing the ills of a negative family cycle, through which detrimental behavioral and/or psychological patterns are passed down intergenerationally.

Take the case of Paul Lamar Hunter. As a child growing up in Racine, Wis., he recalls how education not only wasn’t promoted, it was vehemently discouraged in his household. “I always heard something dispiriting. But I didn’t accept that I would never accomplish anything,” says the Austin, Texas, resident. “I would say, ‘I am going to be the first child in this family to graduate from college.’ The comments I heard in my youth really provoked my spirit to succeed in life.”

Unfortunately, actions aligned with what Hunter says his relatives believed, because as the 19th of his mother’s 21 children, not one of his elder siblings graduated from college. But despite what his family seemed to illustrate, Hunter made up his mind that neither limits nor lineage would prevent him from obtaining a higher education. And in 2012, at the age of 42, he earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Upper Iowa University. “I am the first one of 21 natural children, 63 grandchildren and 61 great-grandchildren to graduate from college,” he states. “I have to give God credit for bringing good people into this world such as T.D. Jakes, Joyce Meyer and Joel Osteen. I listened to some of their sermons and read their books, which tremendously helped me overcome obstacles, including being in a family that was against education.”