Unfortunately there are many people who are holding unto angers and resentments to their own detriment. It takes a great deal of energy to hold on to these emotions which often depletes us of our vitality, well being and productivity. In its place we can find ourselves suffering from psychological, emotional and physical challenges.
The act of forgiveness can be triggering for many people and is often resisted. Especially if we had parents who weren’t able to see, hear and tune into us. We may fear that by forgiving we’re opening ourselves up to being hurt again which leads to further resistance to forgiveness. Also, forgiveness can imply a superiority in an interesting way in that, “I forgive you,” can make you feel you’re in the authoritative position of pardoning the person. This stance actually promotes separation rather than the connection we seek. Also, holding onto resentments can ensure our looping in trauma patterns from our childhood which keeps us in a victim mentality as well as tied up in internal knots.
If the act of forgiveness, which is touted as one of the keys to emotional health and well being, can produce the opposite outcome of what we’re desiring is there a way out of this quandary? Fortunately, yes! The answer is shifting from forgiveness to understanding. My experience is forgiveness comes from the head while understanding comes from the heart of true compassion. When we’re truly able to understand the personal history of why someone did or said something to hurt us we’re able to heal in a more profound, deep way. Why? Because in understanding the other it dawns on us that for them in that moment they really couldn’t have been different than they were and it truly wasn’t personal to us at all.
Here’s where the rubber meets the road with true understanding. You cannot emotionally or spiritually bypass dealing with your feelings and taking care of your inner child. Otherwise you will continue to be in the current cycle of hurts and early traumas you may be presently finding yourself in. First, you have to be in touch and present with what you’re feeling and self-parent those feelings. By doing this you will be developing greater self trust and with greater self-trust you will naturally be able to understand why the other person did what they did and that it had nothing to do with you. You will see clearly that peoples actions and words towards us are a reflection of how they historically feel about themselves. The fact is people can only give what they received in early childhood development and everyone is doing the best they can with the resources they have available.
Another key thing I talk about in my work is that other peoples actions and words towards us are being driven by a sense of early survival in them. No matter how non-resourceful their actions and words may seem to be, their lashing out is often connected to their wounded, inner child, and this is all they can currently do with their limited and early resources. Most likely they didn’t feel safe in their childhoods so their survival might have been to be defended and say hurtful things. What’s underneath this is often a frightened child in need of love, safety and understanding.
If we find ourselves holding onto past angers and resentments this is feedback that we are using coping mechanisms from our early childhood that were the best strategies we had access to for feeling safe then. When we begin to look “behind” these strategies, words and actions in ourselves and others we see the wounded child longing to be healed and loved.
A technique I suggest to clients and friends is to imagine the person’s insecure, frightened 6 year old saying hurtful things and holding on to hurtful feelings. This can be the helpful and healthful beginnings of putting us into the witness/observer and establishing healthy boundaries for ourselves. This is one of the many benefits that comes with the power of understanding.
This understanding leads us to our ability to let go of resentment and forgive. Forgiving from a place of humanity and connection rather than a superiority and separation.
For information on how to self-parent yourself email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a session with me.