Why You Should Forgive Your Parents

Your parents may have wronged you, harmed you or neglected you - whether it is now or in the past. And because of how your parents treated you or what they taught you, you may very well have developed core beliefs about yourself and the world around you that are negative and self-defeating. HOWEVER, those beliefs and resentments you have held onto all this time are not serving you. They are keeping you stuck.

In no way am I saying that your feelings are invalid. In no way am I excusing your parents' behavior or saying it was okay what happened to you. But, what I am saying is that these core beliefs, this anger, these resentments are only harming you, at this point. I often hear from individuals that their parents are the reason they are sitting on my couch. That if their parents had done things differently or treated them differently, then that individual would not have these problems.

You had expectations of how your parents should have raised you, and those expectations were not fulfilled. I get that. But, what if I told you that your parents did the best that they could with what they knew. That is not to say that you did not deserve better or differently. It simply means that for whatever reason it may have been, your parent(s) acted in accordance with their own beliefs and with what they have learned.

We all have a set of neural pathways that form over time -- causing us to act, react and respond in the same ways over and over again. These pathways are difficult to change without self-awareness, intervention and consistency of change. If your parents did not know any differently or were never taught differently, then they continued to act in the same way they always knew how to. Just as you do.

When we continue to blame others for our circumstances or outcomes in life, it is difficult for us to assume responsibility. It is difficult to move forward. Our parents' actions may be in the back of our heads as to why we feel and act the way that we do. By forgiving our parents, we can free ourselves from that bondage -- moving towards change and forming new, healthier pathways and behaviors. The resentment that we hold towards another person does not affect him or her -- it affects us. I know that it does not feel good to walk around with so much anger -- and thus act out in anger, avoidance, etc.

Take some time to think about (and write down) how you define your parents -- characteristically and personality-wise. Because of how you think your parents are/were, now how do you define yourself? What are the negative core beliefs you hold about yourself? That you're not good enough? Unlovable? Disgusting?

Now imagine if your parents were different. If they had been loving, attentive, kind -- meeting any and all of your expectations. What does that then make you? How would you have been different?

The answer I often get is, "I don't know."


Then I see the lightbulb go off.

Let go of the hold you have allowed your parents' actions to have over you. Release how you define yourself from how you define your parents. Just because the perception of how you believe your parents were or weren't (or acted or didn't act) does NOT define you. Look at that list of core beliefs and decide which ones you are ready to let go of. Imagine what it would be like to feel lovable, good enough, at peace. No one is keeping you from forgiving and moving forward except for yourself. I also encourage you to try and have compassion for your parents and the circumstances that they may have endured.

It takes time. It takes consistency. But, I promise you, it will be worth it.

This article is a great expansion on this topic, that I highly recommend reading.

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