When our adult children have destroyed our hopes and dreams because they’ve turned out to be narcissistic, volatile, angry, vindictive, bullying and abusive, and they’ve estranged themselves from us, we often torment ourselves with problems of forgiveness.
How can we forgive them for the terrible, hurtful things they’ve said and done? How can we forgive ourselves for the mistakes we made as parents?
Politically correct thinking for a few generations has been that we must evolve to forgive them and over look what they’ve done; that to be spiritually advanced (and to increase the chances that they’ll come back as loving, appreciative and respectful children) we must forgive them; that we must open our hearts and lives to them over and over with infinite loving kindness; with unconditional love.
I think these ideas are wrong and they also don’t specify what is meant by forgiveness.
The true results of forgiveness are that:
- We spend little time and energy thinking about people who’ve been cruel to us.
- We’re protected from further harm by those people (no matter what the label is of the relationship).
Typically, we replay horrible incidents to remind ourselves to beware; as a motivation strategy to remind us to protect ourselves.
Typically, those angry, adult children say their problems are all our fault, they’re angry for just cause and we deserve all the beatings and harshness they want to dish out whenever they want to. Their unhappiness and anger are our fault and we should pay. They can use us and discard us whenever they don’t want to use us; as if we’re slaves or servants.
When we’re sure we’ll protect ourselves from further negativity, bullying and abuse, when we’re sure we won’t get sucked in again too far, then we can relax. We can stop obsessing on what they did because we won’t need the motivation any more. We can move on mentally, emotionally and spiritually in our lives. Those people and those attacks can recede into the background because we don’t need the painful motivation strategy anymore. We will protect ourselves naturally, automatically and easily.
Then we can forgive them in the sense that we wish them well, we hope they’ll have happy lives and we won’t think of the horrible things they did because now we’re safe. We can love their spirit unconditionally even though we don’t like their personalities and refuse to volunteer for whippings. We stop worrying and obsessing unless there’s a specific event coming up in which we’ll be exposed to their attacks or loud, silent treatment again.
Usually, we want signs that they’ve changed – public apologies, public admissions of their lies and vicious attacks, making amends by returning the money we lent them, etc. But we can still protect ourselves even if they’re still throwing temper tantrums. Next time we’ll talk about apologies and promises.
If the meantime, we all know that it’s easier to stop thinking about them when we keep them far away – emotionally and physically. Of course that’s hard. That’s not how we want it to be. But that may be how it is in order for us to be protected.
For a few generations we’ve been taught that if someone is angry, we must have done something terrible to them. So we worry, “What did I do wrong? What am I doing wrong right now? How can I make it up to them?”
The false reasoning is that if someone is angry they always have good reasons, someone must have wronged them. The false reasoning is no one would ever use anger to get what they want just like kids throwing temper tantrums. The false reasoning is that there are no anger addicts. The false reasoning is also that if I could only say the magic words or give them enough, then they would love me.
So when they’re not beating us up or emotionally blackmailing or intimidating us, we beat ourselves up: “If only If was good enough?”
I call that “Self-Bullying.”
This is the most insidious type of bullying because we’re doing it to ourselves. You know, that little voice inside that stacks up all our mistakes, all our failings, all our sins, “If only I was a better person, if only I had given them what they wanted when they were little, if only I hadn’t divorced, if only I hadn’t made their lives painful.”
Nonsense. Their feelings are not our fault. Whatever the circumstances were, when we forgive ourselves we can see clearly that their feelings are not our fault. Whatever the situations, they could have chosen to be strong and brave because of the challenges they faced. They could have chosen to be less vindictive and nasty.
When we forgive ourselves, we are not abject beggars in life because we don’t deserve better. Our futures open up again. W We can think and feel and act better in the future. We can find happiness, peace and serenity. We can find and be worthy of people who will appreciate, love and cherish us. We can create a family of our hearts, minds and spirits.
“Define yourself by the best that is in you, not by the worst that has happened to you.” Edward Lewis
Of course, there are many complications depending on your situation. The best way to learn how to take power in your life and to be the person you want to be is to hire Dr. Ben for personalized coaching and counseling so you can:
- Develop the strength, courage, will and determination to be and to act your best resolutely, diligently and effectively.
- Develop a plan and master the skills necessary to create the life your spirit has always hungered for.
Since all tactics depend on the situation, call me at 1-877-8Bullies for expert counseling and coaching by phone or Skype.