Forgiving Your ParentsBy Dr. Margaret Paul
November 15, 2007
Do you feel that you want to forgive your parents, yet your resentment keeps surfacing? Discover the Inner Bonding path to true forgiveness.
"My parents were distant, unaffectionate people. I don't remember ever being held by them. They were never interested in how I thought or felt. I never felt important to them at all. I was often left alone, even as a very young child."
"My mother was crazy - nice one minute and the next a screaming violent maniac. My father was sweet but he was never around, and he never did anything to stop my mother from the physical and emotional abuse."
"My father was an angry violent man and my mother was weak and pathetic. He often beat us and my mother did nothing to protect us."
"My mother didn't believe me when I told her that my father was molesting me. She is still with him, and still doesn't believe me."
Many people grew up with parents who didn't know how to love them in the ways they needed to be loved. Others grew up with parents who not only did not love them, but who were physically, emotionally and/or sexually abusive. Unloving and abusive parenting has far reaching affects on our lives.
Many people spend years trying to heal from their childhoods. Often, at some point in their healing process they ask, "Should I forgive my parents? Would it be healthy for me to forgive them? How would I go about feeling forgiveness toward them?"
Forgiveness is not a feeling that you can just decide to have.
Many of my clients who decide that they want to forgive their parents find that the forgiveness doesn't last. Something happens and they find themselves once again angry with one or both of their parents.
In my Inner Bonding work with my clients and with myself, I have discovered an important thing about forgiveness:
As long as we ae treating ourselves the way our parents treated us, we cannot reach true forgiveness.
If your parents ignored you and you didn't feel important to them, as long as you continue to ignore your own feelings and needs, you will not be able to forgive your parents.
If your parents were judgmental toward you, as long as you continue to judge yourself, you will not be able to forgive your parents.
- If your parents were physically or sexually abusive to you, as long as you abuse your own body or allow others to abuse you, you will not be able to forgive your parents.
Most of our parents were unhealed, wounded people, doing the best they could. Since they were our role models, they passed their woundedness on to us, so that the wounded part of us is generally a carbon copy of the wounded parts of them.
When you decide to embark on a healing journey, it is this part of you - your wounded self - that needs healing. Healing occurs as you compassionately open to learning about the false beliefs of your wounded self - the beliefs you absorbed as you were growing up. The more you understand the fears and beliefs of your wounded self and learn to live from truth rather than from these fears and limiting beliefs, the more loving and compassionate you feel toward yourself and others.
Forgiveness is the Natural Outcome of Your Own Inner Healing
You will find that your anger and resentment toward your parents gradually fades away as you practice Inner Bonding and learn to treat yourself in the ways you always wished your parents would have treated you. As you learn to feel compassion for the wounded parts of you, you will naturally feel compassion for the wounded parts of them. Forgiveness is the natural outcome of doing your own Inner Bonding healing work.
However, just because you forgive your parents, doesn't mean that you want to spend time with them. If they continue to be unloving or abusive people, you might decide to forgive them from afar. It is wonderful for your wellbeing to let go of anger and blame and feel forgiveness in your heart, and it is also wonderful to give yourself permission to not be around your parents if it is not in your highest good to do so.
Hoerver, if your parents have mellowed over the years, and especially if they acknowledge the abuse (which rarely happens), you might find that you enjoy spending time with them, regardless of what happened in the past.
Join Dr. Margaret Paul for her 30-Day at-home Course: "Love Yourself: An Inner Bonding Experience to Heal Anxiety, Depression, Shame, Addictions and Relationships."
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What do you do when your heart hurts from others unloving behavior or from the pain of life? Do you get angry and blame someone? Do you shut down or turn to addictions? Do you ignore your feelings? Instead, hold your pain with compassion and gentleness and give yourself permission to cry, which is the god-given way of releasing pain.
By Dr. Margaret Paul