Published on May 31st, 2013 | by Max Highstein0
Forgiving Your Father
Healing About Your Dad
Was your father perfect? Chances are, your relationship with your father has been a mixed bag, because most parents try their best, but have faults inherited from their parents. So, we tend to receive some combination of love and anger, patience and impatience, caring and neglect.
Your father, or whomever was the central male figure in your childhood, became a model to you. For better or worse he shaped your opinion of men, and showed you what to expect from them. The negative side of those expectations can be a problem, because they tend to set us up for failure and disappointment. Here’s how that happens.
If your father was unavailable, distant, or angry toward you, for example, and you still hold fear, anger, or sadness about that, you’re apt to attract relationships with men who have negative traits similar to your father. That’s what our unresolved feelings do—they unconsciously cause us to do things, and attract situations, that trigger those feelings and bring them to the surface, so we can resolve them. So, you’ll continue to choose relationships with men who bring up that fear, anger, or sadness—whether for you that means a friend, boss, or husband.
You may have noticed that I said “when you still hold” fear, anger or sadness. I put it as if you have some choice in the way you feel, because as an adult, you do. With some effort, you can begin to get in touch with those feelings and let them go. And that would be a very wise thing to do, because by releasing stored negativity, you give yourself a lot more freedom, and open to a whole range of new possibilities in life. Plus, it just feels better not to carry that stuff around!
We don’t have to continue to carry negativity toward our parents. And we can never fully come into our own without first letting go of those feelings, and at least becoming neutral about the people who brought us into the world. It’s important to keep the positive memories, but release the negative expectations that might otherwise darken your relationships with men going forward.
A much better approach is to deal directly with the way we feel about our parents, and clear up those issues at the source. And by the source, I don’t mean our parents, because it’s the feelings within us we need to change, not them. Forgiveness is all about healing the forgiver. It doesn’t matter whether our parents are still alive. By letting go of negativity toward them, we can move on and finally live our own lives. As with all personal growth, it’s an inside job.
Unfortunately, the process of examining and letting go of negative stuff within us tends to be something we avoid. It can be daunting and scary; so instead of facing it we get distracted with work, zone out with drugs, TV, or other things, or just pretend those feelings aren’t there.
But at some point the baggage gets too heavy to carry, and we can’t seem to move forward. Often that manifests as trouble that seems to keep coming up again and again, inner limitations we can’t seem to bypass, or a series of bad relationships. When we have that funny feeling that “life is trying to tell us something,” it is. It’s usually saying, “Look inside, and start cleaning up what’s bothering you deep down. Then you can move forward.”
I’m sure there are people whose fathers were perfect in every way—though I’ve never met one. To some extent, we all carry vestiges of past hurts, neglect, or abuse, whether it was subtle or not so subtle. When you’re finally ready to do the deep inner work of letting go, it really pays to have help. Look for a counselor, therapist, teacher, or guide who has personally walked a similar path to the one in front of you, and has come out the other side. Find someone you feel comfortable with, and put your trust in them for as long as it takes to break through. On some level, in his heart of hearts, that’s what your father would want you to do.