In order to move on with our lives we need to forgive. How many times have we heard that and how many times have we really done it? I would say that we have heard it millions of times and we rarely have done it. I say this with confidence, because when I talk to people, 9 out of 10 have said to me that they already forgave or forgot about an offense they experienced some time ago. I just listen, but when I start asking more questions about other events or circumstances, the lack of forgiveness becomes apparent.
In the case of our parents, it is difficult to think about how they did something that we did not like when we were children and forgive them. There are people who cannot even talk with their parents because the line of communication does not exist any longer. Either way, we have to find those painful events and release them in order to move on with our lives and not pass them on to our children. In our attitudes towards life and towards others we are reflecting what we learned from our parents; sometimes unconsciously continuing the cycle. Sometimes these attitudes are good, sometimes not so good.
We need to address each case separately. Our parents are not perfect and now that we are parents ourselves we may have more empathy and understanding or we may be more acutely aware that emotional and/or physical abuse occurred. To start the healing process and forgive we need to try and remember exactly when and how they offended us.
For some, this may be more challenging than for others. How can we forgive our parents if we cannot see exactly when they hurt us? This can be difficult, if we think that our parents were almost perfect, that what they did, they did for our own good, and that there is nothing to forgive. In this case we need to start thinking about those circumstances where our inner child was broken. We need to start looking into our life now, how we interact with others (friends, family, partners, and especially our children). Can we see that some of our attitudes are similar to our parents’? Do those attitudes help others grow, or do they put them down? Are those attitudes kind or cruel? We need to start with our own behaviors to find what we learned from our parents that may not serve us anymore and identify what we need to forgive and let go. Without this examination, the cycle continues.
It is important to be conscious about how our unresolved issues affect the way we raise our children. Forgiveness will not only set us free, but also it will set our children free as well. When we find those events or words between us and our parents that do not help us grow anymore, a helpful tool to aid us move forward is to actually thank our parents for the lesson. (You do not have to do it in person; it is like meditating or praying). Keep in mind that they made choices with the information they had (maybe they did not know better – they know not what they do). You will say out loud: “That was your process, not mine. I will cut any energy cord between us that is not needed anymore and we are going to transform it into love energy.”
Take one event at a time and do it as many times as you need. Each time that event comes to your mind repeat this step; little by little the energy attached to that event will dissipate and will be transformed into the loving energy of forgiveness. This is not magic. It will take time and your consistency, but it works. As you learn to forgive your parents you may also learn to forgive yourself. You will see that your relationships become cleaner, clearer, and more loving while you are in this process. You may start seeing results immediately, but just like completing a course of antibiotics, you need to continue until all have been transformed.
Your children will thank you, even though they will not know what you did.
Image Credit: Meredith Richmond