September 30, 2023

Forgiving for Healing

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by transitionscoachingcayman

How well or badly we are loved in childhood is crucial to how happy we are when we grow up, and we can carry pain with us sometimes for decades. Even though it is true that we need to take responsibility for our lives and our happiness, saying that to someone who is suffering is not helpful. You can’t just expect them to snap out of it.

It is in our human nature to love our children, so if parents were incapable of this, it must be because they have suffered in their own childhoods, and have not sorted out their issues. Previous generations knew much less about psychology than we do now.

Even if someone cuts off contact from their parents, the situation will still hurt them, and needs to be dealt with eventually. If you are one of these people who grew up feeling unloved by parents, there are things you can do to help yourself, but it will take time, maybe even years.

You may not like this, but I believe what you need to do is to work towards forgiving your parents. One way to forgiveness is through prayer, such as saying every day “Thank you for the (small amount of) love my parents had/have for me.” It may be hard, and you may have to keep saying it for a long time before you notice the effect.

If you don’t believe in any kind of higher being, perhaps instead you can say it as a mantra: “my parents tried to love me,”  which doesn’t deny that they didn’t do a very good job. Or choose whatever words you want that feel natural to you.

At first you won’t believe it, and it will feel artificial and ridiculous, but find something positive that you can say, and just keep repeating it many times a day. Then gradually make it more positive, like “my parents did their best to love me”…then later “I’m grateful for the love my parents gave me”. Even if you don’t believe it will have any effect, if you keep trying, it will eventually make a difference. You will start to notice that your attitude towards them is more forgiving.

Another example of a mantra that you might find helpful for your self-esteem in general is: “I am loved, I am lovable, I love.” or “I am worthy of love.”

Every time you say or even think something negative about your life, you are reaffirming it, so try to stop yourself in your tracks and write down the statement, but change the words to something positive. For example if you find yourself thinking, “I’m just a piece of crap,” turn it around. If you find yourself unable to say something as extreme as “I am a wonderful, intelligent, caring, lovely person,” you can just make it “I’m not a piece of crap.” But gradually build up bit by bit, until you can be really positive about yourself.

When you feel more positive about yourself, you will depend less on other people’s opinions of you, which will also result in a more forgiving attitude towards them. You will understand that when they criticise you, it says far more about them than it says about you.

When your attitude towards others is forgiving, you will begin to experience deep healing from the pain that was inflicted on you as a child. Remember that it will take time, as movement towards forgiveness and the resulting healing is a process…

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