Your parents were not just your parents. They, like all of us, are complex beings with a mixed bag of character strengths and flaws. Perhaps you ended up on the receiving end of their flaws.
Have you been holding onto childhood pain? Do you harbor deep-seeded resentment for the way your parents raised you? Do you blame them for the circumstances of your life today?
Obviously, not everyone has been blessed with a happy home – with patient, loving, attentive parents.
If you are one of the oh-so-many who harbor pent-up feelings toward mom or dad and those pent-up feelings affect you today, you are not alone. Nor are you condemned to a life plagued by the energy-sapping, happiness-stunting emotions of deep-seeded anger and resentment.
When it comes to your parents, forgiveness can be harder than with other people because your feeling of lack of control and helplessness that results from seeing them as authority figures will always keep you on the weak side. Being on the weak side and the feelings of helplessness hinders forgiveness and can even make it impossible
It’s time to let go and move on! And not because your parents necessarily deserve it – they may not! At all. But YOU do! You deserve to be free of such emotional poison. It’s time to let it go.
Are you one of the lucky few who had progressive, conscious & self-aware parents? If so, call your parents up right now and say “thank you”.
But if you’re like most people, there are things your parents did, or didn’t do that you’re still angry, disappointed or just downright sad, about.
In this day and age of the internet, people all over the world being more open about what they’ve experienced & what they know for sure, it’s easy to be impatient and judgemental with people who seem “unaware”.
Depending on what age your parents are, they didn’t grow up in a time when people shared challenges & advice openly. They didn’t grow up with the internet. Today we talk about “Shame and Brene Brown” as if such conversation has always been around.
So, it’s time to forgive your parents – the truth is, they just didn’t know. They didn’t know about mental illness, they didn’t know about personality disorders, they didn’t know about shame and how it gets passed on from generation to generation, they didn’t know that in a relationship the other person is supposed to trigger you so that you can learn a lesson and grow stronger…the list goes on.
So here’s how to start:
Don’t suppress your emotions
Talk to them assertively but politely, explain to them your deepest feelings in detail and don’t suppress your emotions. If you never spoke to them you will be helping that small wound you have to grow bigger and bigger until you will end up hating them from the bottom of your heart.
Speaking to your friends and talking about the things that bothers you will definitely help but this should not prevent you from talking to your parents directly as this step can’t be replaced by any other one.
Don’t try to “fix” your parents
The whole idea here is not to “fix” one’s parents. That is not possible. What people can fix is their own relationships with their parents. The parents may still go on and have the same problems with other people. However, if anything is going to help the parents with their other relationships, metacommunication about family dynamics stands the best chance. But that is not the goal I am advocating for here.
Write it Down
Sometimes we bury our feelings where they fester and decay, and then begin to infect other parts of the psyche as well.
Sometimes, like the body expelling poisons, the soul also needs to vomit emotional toxins. Doing this on paper helps sort out feelings and make sense of things. There can be a cleansing quality to putting pain to paper too. Be as explicit and detailed as you can. Dump everything onto the page. It may take several days to get it all out. That’s okay; take the time.
A few Tips;
Think of 3 things you now know, about yourself and life, that you didn’t know a few years ago.
Think of 3 ways you would have behaved differently in the past, had you known then, what you know now
Think of 3 people you’ve inadvertently hurt out of ignorance (you just didn’t know)
Look at all the above and realize that just like you, your parents made these same mistakes
Think of 3 past experiences with your parents that hurt you. And then think of the gems (or lessons) you learned thanks to those experiences.
What gems can you mine from the pain?
Perhaps the gems for you are one of the following: I will make time for my kids. I will tell my kids as often as I can that I love them. I will be authentic, and not spend my life pretending. I will not work myself to death and neglect my family. I will commit to my growth & personal development so that I don’t pass on my issues to my children, like was passed on to me. I will find a job I love. I will focus energy and attention on my finances so that I’m financially stable. I will be respectful to my wife/husband. I will look after my health. I will only have authentic friendships….the list goes on and on.
Remember, we reap what we sow. And we also “reap” the traits that our parents “sowed” as they raised us. We are products of both parental successes and mistakes.