The Gift of Forgiveness

The Gift of Forgiveness
Forgiveness is the gift you give yourself

On the surface, the idea of forgiveness for your mother or father may seem strange, but the act of forgiving is potentially one of the best things we can do in our lives. Low-level childhood blame and resentment can perpetuate a cycle of emotional pain and suffering that can negatively affect adult relationships, outlook, and overall wellbeing, ultimately becoming a barrier to the love, abundance and happiness that we all deserve.

You might not notice the amount of energy it takes to hold onto an emotional wound or even a small grudge. Holding onto anger, resentment or any form of hostility requires a tremendous amount of life force energy. Decades of anger and resentment can cut years off your life, and you wouldn’t even know it. Think of it like throwing hundred dollar bills into the toilet each day, except life force energy is infinitely more valuable than all the money in the world.

Healing Wounds

Without healing our childhood wounds and subsequently forgiving our parents, we can stay emotionally stuck at the age of our earliest wounds, repeating a cycle of suffering as we keep experiencing an adult version of our childhood wounds.

For instance, let’s say you haven’t forgiven your mom for missing your tenth birthday or healed the resulting feelings of abandonment; whenever this issue is triggered by a current-day experience (someone forgets to call you), the original emotional wound is activated and you drop into an unconscious reaction. For all intents and purposes, you become your wounded ten-year-old self, and because you feel the same pain you felt then, you react by lashing out or shutting down.

Because a programmed emotional reaction is an automatic response to an unhealed wound, there is often little or no self-awareness of how this impacts our emotions and behaviour. This dynamic can play out within our present life and manifest through relationship issues. Year after year, the cumulative effect of these emotional reactions has the potential to erode the quality of our most important relationships.

We repeat the cycle of suffering and keep experiencing our childhood wounds. Image by Francisco Gonzalez.

Law of Attraction

According to the Law of Attraction, we unconsciously attract people who trigger our emotional wounds, and this is why a person with abandonment issues attracts potential partners who have commitment fears; not as punishment or karma but rather because our higher selves want us to heal and will use every opportunity to bring our wounds to the forefront. Unfortunately, this means that unhealed emotional wounds can prevent you from meeting your ideal partner, and even if you do find each other, the turbulent nature of emotional wounds is known to sabotage even the most ideal partnership.

Blame perpetuates Pain

Blaming your parents not only keeps the wound alive, it also tells your subconscious mind that your parents currently have power over you or your life, and, therefore, blame programs you for disempowerment. Like a virus, this dynamic can spread to every facet of your life. Whenever we blame another, we become entangled with their energy and stay entangled until we let go, and, consequently, we cannot grow beyond the parent we blame.

Of course, it’s no big surprise that forgiveness is the key to emotional freedom, but, in most cases, forgiveness is easier said than done. But why?

We unconsciously attract people who trigger our emotional wounds. Photo by Ben White

The Challenge of Forgiveness

Blame, anger, and various related emotions are defensive guards that protect you from future harm. True forgiveness requires releasing this defence and therefore the very act of forgiveness creates emotional risk. To forgive others, you must trust they won’t hurt you again, but, the hard truth is, you can never be certain – there is no way to predict another person’s behaviour, and sometimes loving people can unintentionally do hurtful things.

If you are still vulnerable to being hurt, and not ready to move on, your protective ego will not allow you to forgive. So before you can forgive, you need to release the blame and take full responsibility for every emotion you experience, but there is no point in assuming responsibility if you don’t also uncover the dynamics behind your underlying childhood issues. Therefore, start by pinpointing the hidden cause(s) of your childhood wounds, and once you do, you can start on the path to healing.

Understanding Emotional Wounds

Emotional wounds can often be confused with the event or experience that caused the wound, but the actual wound is not the situation or circumstance. An emotional wound is a disempowering belief we adopted in response to the experience. Without needing to analyze the details, the core emotional wound is virtually always unworthiness, and, in fact, unworthiness (or conditional worthiness) is the core wound of every other emotional wound.

All children have emotional needs that must be met to feel worthy of love and life; these needs include approval, acceptance, appreciation, understanding, validation, respect, and so on. Although children require all emotional needs to be fulfilled, one emotional need almost always stands out from the rest, and because this is usually the need least met, it is the emotional need most associated with worth, and, as a result, it becomes the child’s Primary Emotional Need (PEN).

Children naturally adopt beliefs that explain why one or both parents fail to provide this emotional need, so when a child doesn’t receive approval, for example, the child naturally believes she is unworthy of approval, or more likely, she believes she must meet certain conditions to prove she is worthy. Hypersensitive to this need being met, she automatically interprets approval as proof of worthiness and judgment as proof of unworthiness, and this is why judgment can cause intense emotional pain even in adulthood.

Here’s the thing: every human being is born unconditionally worthy! There is absolutely nothing you can do to prove, improve, or disprove this inherent worth. The emotional pain associated with believing you are unworthy is due to the fact it is completely untrue! Emotional pain is a warning system that alerts you to false beliefs.

Identifying False Beliefs

All disempowering beliefs, such as unworthiness, powerlessness, and victimhood, put us into survival mode, and over time can cause chronic and acute issues with serious repercussions, and, therefore, we need a warning system that alerts us to debilitating beliefs. This warning system is emotion, and, in fact, the purpose of emotional pain is to alert you to the fact you believe a falsehood. Just like physical pain alerts you the second you prick your finger with a knife, so you won’t cut your whole finger off, emotional pain alerts you to harmful beliefs so you can release them.

Without knowing that emotional pain is a sign of a false belief, most of us wrongly interpret this pain; so whenever we feel the emotional pain associated with unworthiness, the pain makes us believe the belief is true, thereby strengthening the belief and deepening the wound, and this perpetuates a cycle of emotional pain.

Furthermore, this internal warning system will stop at nothing to make you aware of a false belief, and, in fact, with increasing amplification, you will attract continuous opportunities that trigger emotional pain until you finally pay attention and release the false belief that is responsible for the pain. All emotional healing is releasing disempowering beliefs.

Entangled in the conscious or unconscious belief that worth depends on getting our parents to meet our emotional needs, we grow into adults, still expecting one or both parents to give us what we need to feel worthy. But, this just sets us up for more pain because it never works.

False beliefs caused by childhood wounds can lead to a cycle of emotional pain. Photo by Myriams-Fotos

Understanding Our Emotional Needs

Even the most well-intentioned parents unwittingly fail to meet their children’s emotional needs. Oftentimes, childhood emotional wounds are by-products of parenting style or a parent’s own unhealed wounds or family issues. Although parental judgment, criticism, and comparison to siblings or other children are the most common causes of the worthiness wound, almost any dynamic can set the stage, for instance, when a parent is over-protective or over-controlling, a child may feel disrespected and develop the belief he is unworthy of respect. When a child is told to be seen but not heard, she may develop the belief she is not worthy to speak, or she may believe she is not important.

Unaddressed emotional wounds can often deepen over time, and as children mature into adulthood, these wound matures accordingly; manifesting as problematic relationships, financial concerns, career challenges, and health issues, while also making it difficult to pursue one’s dreams and desires.

Many adult children protect themselves from parental judgment and manipulation by closing their hearts and putting up energetic barriers, but despite the defensive quality of anger and blame, it doesn’t protect us from emotional pain because the shield actually keeps the pain inside while it also prevents healing. Regardless of age, every time your parents fail to meet your Primary Emotional Need, feelings of disappointment feed unworthiness and often lead to powerlessness.

Taking Self-Responsibility

Do you still need parental approval, acceptance, validation or permission to feel worthy? If so, do you conceal behaviours that don’t meet your parent’s expectations? This dynamic is quite common in most adults, but there is a huge cost involved because whenever you suppress authentic expression in exchange for approval or acceptance, you inadvertently give away your power.

Consequently, the relationship is based on dysfunctional dynamics where you remain a powerless child who is vulnerable to being hurt. Not only does this make you susceptible to further parental judgment and criticism, but it also makes you vulnerable to manipulation through guilt and obligation. You won’t be able to heal your emotional wounds or forgive your parents as long as you blame them for making you feel powerless and unworthy. This is why self-responsibility is the cure, and, in fact, self-responsibility is the only thing that can solve your issues. Self-responsibility means that you must own your unconditional worth and you must take back your power by releasing the expectation that your parents meet any of your emotional needs.

Self-responsibility means that you must own your unconditional worth. Photo by Fa Barboza

Let Go of Expectations

As you take responsibility for your life and your choices, you must stop seeking parental permission and emotional support, and, in fact, you don’t even need your parents to believe in you or your dreams. The same reasons your parents didn’t meet your needs in childhood are the same reasons they still don’t. So you can let them off the hook and release all expectations! When you know your unconditional worth, and you own your intrinsic power, your parents can’t hurt you emotionally, and, consequently, forgiveness becomes possible.

As dysfunctional dynamics dissolve, it gives way to a new paradigm of relationship based on unconditional worth and self-empowerment. The foundation of this deeper connection is clear boundaries, and, in fact, boundaries can take you from a powerless child to an empowered adult in a heartbeat. Indeed, your personal power is only as strong as your boundaries.

Setting Healthy Boundaries

As an adult-child, it is up to you to set healthy boundaries with your parents. Initially, it might feel uncomfortable, but, over time, strong boundaries will strengthen the relationship and allow for a deeper connection.

Effective boundaries require integrity, and this means that you must back up every boundary with proper and consistent attention. Don’t expect your parents to automatically know when they are encroaching on a boundary. When people are used to behaving in habitual ways, it takes time to recognize new boundaries and reorganize new behaviour accordingly. It’s your responsibility to manage your boundaries, and, therefore, confidently give clear feedback when they are crossing (or about to cross) a boundary.

Emotional challenges in childhood can lead to positive qualities later in life. Photo by Jonatas Domingos

If your boundaries are not being respected, don’t be afraid to limit interactions accordingly, but let them know why, so they have the necessary information to change their behaviour. Believe it or not, most people will eventually learn to respect boundaries, but only if you are consistent in your communication.

Reaping the Rewards

No matter how it seems, childhood wounds always present hidden gifts, such as independence, wisdom, or compassion, and without emotional challenges, our best attributes might never be revealed. If you haven’t yet recognized the positive qualities that sprung from your childhood wounds, now could be a wonderful time to do so because the recognition itself can be extremely healing. Indeed, the point is to heal the wounds but keep the benefits!

Finally, always remember that forgiveness is never for the person being forgiven. Forgiveness is the gift you give yourself.

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on linkedin

Related

COMMENTS

5 1 vote
Article Rating
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
69 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Thomas
Thomas
2 years ago

An interesting article with lots of good parts in it, but also a real strange one, which reminds me somehow of the “positive thinking approach”:

Blame and anger are IMO *not* in the way of forgiveness! They are the way to forgiveness! Because they teach you how to protect yourself. They teach you your power, where you felt powerless.

The authors blaming of the blame is IMO part of his childhood-conditioning. Because as a child you are not welcome to blame your parents.

And also: The emotional pain is not a reaction to the false believe of unworthiness. It is the other way around: The false believe of unworthiness is a reaction to emotional pain.

My 2 cents. 😉

What do you think?

Randy Hamilton
Randy Hamilton
3 years ago

Some families are just toxic and although you may forgive them, often you just have to remove yourself completely from that environment. Forgiveness doesnt fix everything but removing yourself from the toxicity can, over time.

NALA
NALA
3 years ago

Good article..but forgiving a parent who still is abusive and boundaries only anger them.in an unfortunate situation to get back on my feet after a traumatic situation, depending on them temporarily, only subjects to continual toxic relationship.
Fixing and healing is more complicated than just to forgive:(

Jahrah
Jahrah
3 years ago

I’m havig very hard time forgiving my parents. They took my childhood at such a young age.. my mother left my brother and I and chased some man.. she promised she would come back and she never did!! I needed her ! I’m lost I’m confused ! I need my parents love and they don’t even care. I had to be adopted by my grandma because my parents didn’t come back like they said they would!! I’m still struggling trying to find a way. My father used to beat my mom and beat me and my brother and now I can’t even sleep at night because I get nightmares about it. They hurt us and I can’t even move on in my life because I’m so angry at them. I wanna have a relationship with my father and make new memories and forgive him. But idk I’m afraid. I have to hide how I feel with the comedy I bring to my family making them laugh and smile because I know how it feels to be miserable I’m afraid to be a parent one day because I don’t wanna be like my parents. When I sing I try to let out how I feel all the pain I have from them and it doesn’t really work because I haven’t forgiven them.. but I’m gonna keep trying and I know deep in my heart I will find a place for them again but I just need help doing that

Joyce
Joyce
3 years ago

This article has helped me to see I am worthy and don’t have feel not wanted by my parent anymore. Thank you. for these Words of advice.

MJ9187
MJ9187
3 years ago

Can you explain what wound made me attract a gay husband? I am going through the biggest shock of my life. How is this related to my parents?

Peter
Peter
3 years ago

This was one of the greatest revealing article I had read in a long Time. I think I could truly comprehend with some of it’s teachings. I am very thankful for that and for you to sharing this with us.
Love

Barb
Barb
3 years ago

I am so amazed at how the universe knows and then provides exactly what we need and at the exact time we need it. I’ve been working on clearing negative stuff because we’re in the process of ascension, at present. But as much progress as I’ve made, I can’t seem to get pass the issue of forgiveness. Anger and blame at my parents have colored my entire life and all relationships, just as stated in the article. And I’ve struggled like crazy in life, not accomplishing what I want and am capable of without ever understanding why. This information resonates with me and I am grateful. Thank you.

Alex
Alex
3 years ago

Thank you for this! I needed it and i got it at perfect time! Thank you! So powerfull and healing.

Dhawal
Dhawal
3 years ago

This Article is very Logical and Practical.It is of a great use for emotionally hurted people! Must Read Article!

Joi
Joi
3 years ago

I was abused by a father who (I only recently discovered) was a narcissist. He is deceased. I want to release the anger but I don’t know how. How does one do that?

Eloise
Eloise
3 years ago

This was immensely helpful. I had a violent father and my mother did nothing to stop him (and was pretty cruel herself at times). I still have a relationship with them and for some reason I always go back looking for love only to be hurt when it isn’t there. Most recently I had a serious health problem with eye watering medical bills not covered by my insurance. My parents are millionaires. They didn’t come to visit me in hospital despite my begging, they denied I was ill, called my doctor a “quack” and then (although initially offering when I told them the size of my medical bills), they then refused to help financially. To put this in context, I am a 27 year old oxford educated lawyer at a top firm and I have never asked them for a penny. Anyway this for me was the final straw after years of emotional abuse following the physical abuse I endured as a child (which still plays on my mind most days). The feeling I had had all along that my parents didn’t love me I realised was true. I for the first time became so angry and disgusted with them. I was finding it so hard to get past this anger. This article made me realise that this anger just continues to wound myself and that forgiveness isn’t weak. The roots of a lot of the positives in my life today stem from the pain I have had endured due to my parents – I was always so desperate to be independent that I wrote in my diary at 10 that I would get a good job that pays a lot of money (check and check). I am the friend people go to when things go wrong, because I know what it is like to hurt and I tell them the words I always wanted to hear in those situations but never did. I am resourceful, because growing up I knew I had no one else in my corner – the only reason I found a cure (if at a price) is because I refused to accept that I had a progressive incurable disease. After just the first two sessions with this expensive doctor I could walk again and he said he was amazed I had found him so fast, that most of his patients wind up with him as a last resort having been disabled for 10 years. In fact when I think about it that way – the wounds my parents inflicted on me have ultimately saved my life. I am not going to let the anger take over the rest of my life and I will own my wounds as making me the person I am today.

Lucy
Lucy
3 years ago

I don’t believe in anything that says ‘should’ anywhere. No one should have to do anything, especially when it comes to emotionally neglectful parents. Because most of the time, they don’t do the work to look at their behaviour and and as a result nothing changes. Its often just a different mask on their part.

Susannah
Susannah
3 years ago

Curious, would you write a similar article to a rape or attempted murder victim or victim of some other potentially life destroying crime pressuring them to forgive and not seek justice from their perpetrator? If you wouldn’t, then I don’t see why this article is appropriate, either. Some parents perpetrate crimes on their children that destroy their children’s lives. If it was between adults, justice would be demanded and rendered. But since it is done to a helpless child, we are just supposed to forgive and stop blaming. No justice, no peace. How about working towards getting more justice and protection for children and education, support, standards, and accountability for parenting so these most defenseless of beings don’t have to suffer whatever torture their parents inflict on them (I am with the person who scoffed at the example of a wound being a parent missing your 10th birthday). If that is the depth of your wounding, maybe this article could be for you. But if you’ve been severely neglected, abused, or abandoned, I don’t think this is enough and it may even be wrong to tell ppl their innate human need for some measure of justice and recognition is just not important and they’re just going to have to forgive and move forward with no reparations. Sometimes ppl literally don’t even have what they need to survive due to their parents’ neglect, abuse or abandonment.

Ocgirl
Ocgirl
3 years ago

Forgive and then if necessary, detach emotionally. Look up emotional detachment and work hard at it.

massagewitch
massagewitch
3 years ago

Was emotionally and physically abused as a child. The impact on my life has been very clear. I have released and forgiven incidents but never tried to address the lack of emotional support it created. Thank you for this article. I think it will help me get over my trust issues that I am currently working on. I will say boundaries and space make a big difference. And understanding my parents are just repeating the patterns from their own childhoods. It doesn’t make it acceptable, just lets me release the blame and take back my power to control my reactions.

Tony
Tony
3 years ago

A shining example of why liberal arts are so reviled. While a useful idea the entire article could be reduced to the last sentence. Otherwise a mass of opinion or unsupported theory presented as “fact”. Still, after wading through it, good stuff.

Jessica
Jessica
3 years ago

The text is a great explanation of the inner mechanics of feeling unworthy and the resulting difficulties in your relationships all your later life. True and helpful.
It just doesn’t offer any help on the ‘how’. How can one forgive? How do you let go of the grudge and pain?

Laurence
Laurence
3 years ago

Great article. Although I guess I always knew deep down, it helped me to become consciously aware of my unworthiness false belief. There’s work to do. Thanks for sharing.

Dublin
Dublin
3 years ago

As complex beings we hurt and we hurt others often not intentionaly but through ignorance or disfunction in our own family background.
To forgive releases us from negative posionous thinking,only when we learn to forgive can we learn to fully live, some people have a lot to forgive parent’s for but it’s when you do it you find you were really the prisoner because bitterness is a poison we drink ourselves expecting the other person to die, why let someone who has cruelly interacted in your past life have the opportunity to continue to destroy your future. Forgivness is about releasing yourself it dosen’t mean you ever have to sit or visit with that person again, but knowing you have no intention of harm or ill will toward them then go live the life that you deserve.

Jill Czapla-Lockhart
Jill Czapla-Lockhart
3 years ago

Both of my parents are gone. I’ve struggled with unworthiness, trying to prove I’m worthy, for the majority of my life. I’m sure my parents did as well. They were the products of their upbringing. After years of figuring out why I behaved and led my life in this blaming, unworthy state of mind, I now take care to recognize that pattern within me, and realize I don’t need to prove myself. I am worthy, I am loved and loving. We are all doing the best we can at any given moment… And to keep reminding myself of that fact. So are YOU.

nl michaels
nl michaels
3 years ago

Great advice for people who grow up entitled, thinking that mom and dad owed them a pony. Great if you are not mature enough to recognise that your parents had struggles financially… Or other common issues. But this is complete bulkshit if you were physically, emotionally, mentally abused by your parent. Just like don’t tell an abused child that their parents loved them.
Oh and you can give your kid that pony and a puppy, and everything they could want, love, time etc…and they can still grow up to be apathetic and cruel. You can grow up in an abusive environment and grow up to be loving, empathetic, and responsible.
Your environment only plays a small role.

Irene
Irene
3 years ago

This was very helpful to understand how to take your power back. Thank you.

Robert Keith
Robert Keith
4 years ago

My father was mentally ill and as i a child i was highly intelligent. Was mensa . My father wounld never allow me to be happy and be relaxed. He would prod me and instigate and when i would react he would threaten to put me in an institution.my mother covered for him saying your father was abanoned as a child. So it gave my father the green light to abuse and damage me. I have been disabled and damaged my whole life. I just cant forget the trauma he put me through. It affected my relationships.

Janey04090
Janey04090
4 years ago

The article makes a lot of sense, explains why some people are more needy than others and constantly seek praise and approval.

69
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x

Subscribe to UPLIFT's free Newsletter

Get our regular newsletter sharing the latest updates, articles, films and events.

How will my data be used?