Forgiveness is a difficult journey, especially when it comes to parents who have caused us trauma and emotional pain. I know this firsthand because I spent years resenting my parents, even after moving thousands of miles away from them.
Breaking Free From Emotional Baggage: 5 Steps Towards Forgiveness
It wasn’t until my marriage fell apart that I realised how much my parents’ strained relationship had affected my life. I embarked on a journey of healing and forgiveness, and the following are five steps that helped me along the way.
1. Have difficult conversations, even if they don’t result in apologies.
Image source: iStock
I struggled to express my emotions as a child, and defying my parents’ authority was not an option. However, I’ve learned that having difficult conversations, particularly with my parents, is essential for healing. My mother’s defensiveness and inability to apologise helped me find closure and move forward during one of these conversations.
2. Ask about your parents’ lives to make them more human.
It’s easy to imagine our parents as superheroes or villains, but they’re just regular people with flaws. After confronting my parents, I became interested in their life experiences, which helped me better understand them. I learned about my father’s life of abuse and neglect, which helped me be more compassionate towards him.
3. Allow yourself to grieve the parents you will never have and let go of unrealistic expectations.
We all have fantasies about who our parents should be and how we should relate to them. However, we must accept that our parents may be unable to meet our needs. I’ve had to let go of the parents I thought I deserved and accept the parents I do have.
4. Reparent yourself and work on your inner child.
Once I accepted that my parents couldn’t meet my needs, I realised it was my responsibility to provide for myself. Recognising my childhood trauma, acknowledging the little version of myself, and seeing how they were neglected were all part of re-parenting myself and doing inner child work.
It entails determining how they were neglected and determining how you can meet their needs. It’s not easy work, and you’ll need to take care of yourself a lot.
5. It is acceptable to establish boundaries in our interactions.
Image source: iStock
Closeness is highly valued in Asian family culture, and family members frequently have strong emotional bonds. While this can be a positive aspect of family life, it can also make setting boundaries and limiting interactions with family members difficult. Family members may feel obligated to be intensely involved in each other’s lives, which can be overwhelming and even suffocating at times.
However, setting boundaries and limiting interactions with family members when necessary is important for mental health. Accepting our parents for who they are and setting boundaries to protect our emotional well-being has value.
Forgiving our parents can be a difficult journey, but it is essential for our healing and growth. It is important to have difficult conversations with our parents, to humanise them, to let go of unrealistic expectations, to re-parent ourselves, and to establish boundaries in our interactions.
Forgiveness is a time-consuming process, but it is well worth it for our health.