During these times, we’re learning what—and who—are most important to us. We’re getting a better understanding of our true priorities, and for many of us, one of these is our relationships with our loved ones.
For me, this was a lesson I was fortunate (and unfortunate) enough to learn with the passing of my mom at seventeen. And, I say fortunate as, among other things, this shaped the way I showed up in all of my relationships moving forward, helping me to understand how truly important these were and how limited our time was.
With this, I made the choice to heal and forgive in the relationships I struggled most in. While I write more about this in my book, Living Deeply: A Transformational Journey Through Deep Pain, Loss and Abandonment to Healing, Self-Love and Miracles, little did I know the impact that this would have, not only in those relationships, but in all of my relationships and in the way people began to treat me.
For me, it was like a weight was lifted, and I knew with this healing, that no matter what happened in my life, I would have no regrets.
And, I think this time, while really hard and sad, for so many is acting like the catalyst that my mother’s death was for me.
So, if this is speaking to you, how do you forgive your loved ones to heal these relationships and ensure there are no regrets?
1. Be honest.
Most of the time when I’m working with my clients, they tell me that they have already forgiven their parents or caretakers. Typically, though not always, this is a sign that there’s more work to do.
That being said, the key here is to be really honest with yourself. Have you really forgiven them or are you holding onto some resentment, anger or pain, to name a few, that is still lingering, only to come out of the shadows when you least expect it, attacking or holding back love from a loved one because it is unresolved?
If this is the case, this is not about beating up on yourself. It is about doing the work, though, to complete this.
In my book, I share it this way:
“Forgiveness isn’t just neutrality; it’s love.”
That being said, if you can’t say with your whole heart that you fully and truly love this person, there’s likely more work to do.
2. Identify your true feeling(s).
Once you have gotten clarity on if there’s more work to do, if there is, it’s important to identify what you are truly feeling. Are you angry at them for leaving? Are you hurt by them for not acknowledging their impact on you? Are you resentful that they just seem to be living their life as if nothing’s happened? Whatever it is, it’s important to identify this.
3. Feel it.
Once you know what it is that you’re feeling towards them, the next step is to feel it. While this sounds simple in theory, in practice, it is a lifelong soul journey and can be one of the hardest things for us to do.
One way to start to do this is to see the person in front of you and say outloud to them what you’re feeling, keeping it as simple as possible. This may look like, “I’m really angry with you. I’m really angry with you…” or “What you did really hurt me. What you did really hurt me…” while you’re saying this, if you can express it as well, whether it’s through kicking, screaming or punching the air or a pillow, for example, even better, but know that you will be supported in healing this just by starting to acknowledge it.
Also, once you have felt the initial emotion come up, notice what’s underneath it. Often anger is a cover-up for pain, hurt and sadness, so it’s important to do this process as long as necessary, until all you feel towards this person is compassion and love.
4. Finally, see their actions from a higher perspective.
The “final” step to forgiveness is being able to see their actions from a higher perspective. In addition to the healing you experienced, did how they show up in your life support you with something you could not have otherwise experienced? I.e., What did you learn from them as a human and as a soul that you could not have learned in any other way?
For me, one example of this is, if my parents hadn’t shown up the way they had, I wouldn’t be doing the work in the world I currently do.
Be willing to look at this, as this last step is helpful in being truly grateful to them, returning you to love.
This is when you’ll know your forgiveness journey is complete.