This blog has always been about the positive and happy parts of parenting, even when we have talked of meltdowns or difficult lessons in parenting. I think there is enough negativity and toxicity in the world and I definitely don’t need to write more about it over here.
That’s why I have decided to start a new category of posts over here called Positive Parenting. No sarcasm, no judgement, no scathing remarks about being a mother but pure positive thoughts about being a parent, raising kids and living a purposeful life.
The first post in the category is dedicated to Forgiveness. But before I write anything else, let me confess something. I have never been really good at forgiving. I had a habit of keeping grudges, sulking and festering thoughts in my mind for a long time and I am still learning how to forgive someone for real. But one of my favorite forgiveness quotes made a lot of difference in my attitude about “Forgiveness”.
Five Lessons in Learning to Forgive Others and Yourself
Forgiving is freedom
It takes a lot out of you to hold on to resentments, anger and regrets. It fills up the place in your mind which should be populated with creativity, inspiration and love but instead you are left going over the past conversations, thinking up ways to confront or get back at the person who hurt you and basically wasting your precious, precious life.
The best part about being able to forgive is that you don’t need the permission of the person who hurt you. You don’t need to confront them, talk to them or even write a letter to them. Just forgive them completely and feel the release and peace it gives you.
If you don’t learn how to forgive and start living in the present, you will keep repeating the same patterns and getting hurt over and over again. You feel like a victim and you are so attached to the memory that you start accepting that as a part of your identity. The person who hurt you may not be even around you or even alive anymore but they keep living in your head and therefore forgiving them not just frees your mind but also those memories of hurt from your mind.
Learning to forgive is an art
It is not easy to forgive someone who hurt you and probably you fear they may do it again. It is perfectly normal to not want to forgive someone but it is important that you do learn to forgive. It is a step by step process of self-realization and you need to practice it like any new skill you want to master.
The first step is to ACKNOWLEDGE that you don’t want to forgive, probably your mind feels that by not forgiving you have an edge over the other person. Accept that feeling. Also identify how this resentment or grudge has affected your life and accept that too.
In the next step just FORGIVE. There are no conditions to it. A complete and unconditional forgiveness. If you have written down your feelings in the first step, then burn that paper now and release yourself from those feelings forever. What is amazing about this step is that you don’t need anyone to talk to or communicate that you are forgiving someone. It is all about you and your mind.
Finally SET BOUNDARIES. Retrace how you reached at a position where the person who hurt you got the power to do so. For example if it was a relative, probably you confided too much in them and they broke your trust or if it was a colleague you shared all your ideas with and who went ahead to use them as his/her own. Now set boundaries, so that you don’t reach the same place again. Make a decision that you will not tolerate a certain behavior, language or beliefs. Create an action plan for how to practice setting these boundaries in your life.
Your Child needs to learn to forgive
As a parent you will often witness your child being in situations where they need to forgive someone. May be it is a brother who has broken their favorite toy or a classmate who pulled your daughter’s hair. More often than not they will even feel hurt by you and may even say “I hate you”. But how do you teach kids to forgive and forget when you don’t know how to forgive.
We all have been through our teens full of resentment and subtle angst over our parents, schools, siblings, teachers and so on. Holding on to these feelings can cause depression or anxiety. If forgiveness is not taught early, kids are prone to take the victim’s role and coast through their life feeling hurt.
Go through the same steps of learning to forgive with your child i.e. understand and acknowledge their feelings, ask them to forgive and also analyze what led to this situation. May be the brother broke the toy because your son wouldn’t ever share it with him. The most important thing is to teach them that forgiving doesn’t mean condoning but instead it means breaking the patterns of hurt-anger and resentment.
Forgiving yourself is the most difficult thing to do
Forgiving ourselves is way more difficult than learning to forgive others. When we make mistakes in our life, when we hurt someone (intentionally or unintentionally), when we think we have failed or when we feel we haven’t achieved what we should have, it seems almost impossible to forgive ourselves.
Understand that forgiving yourself doesn’t mean getting rid of the guilt or not making amendments but instead it means taking responsibility for your actions and not let yourself get buried under that guilt. Repeat the steps you take when you forgive others and set boundaries for yourself. So if you are angry at yourself for gaining weight then forgive your body and set boundaries by doing regular exercise and eating healthy.
As a parent we often find that we might not be able to forgive ourselves and may be as time passes our kids. But we need to understand that before being a parent we are all human beings. Humans make mistakes and they forgive.
When forgiveness seems impossible
There are often situations or people in your life you feel don’t deserve forgiveness. Instead you might feel that you want to take the feeling of their hurt to your grave and you are constantly planning how to get back at them. DON’T!
Forgiveness doesn’t come easy to anyone and you need to learn, how to forgive. One of my favorite business coaches in the world Denise Duffield Thomas says that “Forgiveness is the key to abundance”. Learning to forgive will clear your mind and will change your life. Recently when I asked her a question that what if you have been forgiving someone over and over again but you end up being hurt? She told me a simple way to set boundaries and break the pattern.
To protect yourself, I would limit the time spent with them, not confide in them and change the subject when they ask you triggering questions. Ask them questions instead. Before you see them, imagine a bubble of light and protection around you.