6 Thought-Provoking Easy Ways to Forgive Your Mother
Learn how to forgive your mother and let go of childhood trauma
Each year we are reminded of Mother’s Day. How do you feel when you think back to your experiences with your mother? For those of us that have experienced a problematic upbringing, we can really become lost in pain. Do you often think back to your own childhood and feel stuck relieving the trauma you experienced or perhaps you feel resentment for the parent that was supposed to be there for you? You’re not alone. Often, my clients tell me how unsettled they are by their parent(s) who were not there for them and ultimately made them feel unloved and unwanted. It takes many months (even years) of therapy to undo some of the knots, and even then, it takes time to feel some sort of resolution.
This article explores some ways to forgive your mother in order to let go of childhood trauma.
1) Resolve Resentment
Feeling resentful doesn’t only mean that our mother is the only person that suffers. We get stuck there, too, forever the child, the victim. A grudge is an unhealthy attachment to the pain we’ve gone through, but it keeps us stuck in pain. We do not move forward in our own lives, but we are clinging to all of our childhood’s bad parts. At times, we might even feel robbed of the happy parts of our childhood. It’s as if we don’t want to live our lives until we have this resolved and feel the security of their unconditional love. This is an evolved coping mechanism and it is trying to reach a resolution, but without setting an intention of moving forward and past the resentment, we get stuck. Those layers of “stuckness” can really make us feel very unsettled and uncomfortable. We might become angry, cold, or defensive towards our mother. Write out your resentment, walk it out, talk it out - just whatever you need to do to feel better and get unstuck.
2) Change Your Mindset!
We expect a lot from our parents; we want them to be the best for us. We do not wish to lower our expectations or change our mindset of how a parent should be. We hold onto the hope that they’ll change but often, they do not. I hear from my clients often that they just want their mother to say sorry, they want her to be honest and to change but it’s not often that this happens. It then means they become trapped in this self-sabotaging cycle of not feeling good enough. You are good enough, even if your mother did not tell you this when you needed it most. When I think back to having therapy sessions as part of my training to be a therapist, a therapist said to me that I needed to change my mindset…. My mother would not be the baking type of attentive stay-at-home mother that I truly wanted! So I began to practice acceptance which then cultivated forgiveness in time. It’s not an overnight process and will take time. Be gentle on yourself.
3) Find the Silver Lining
Most parents love their children, with surprisingly few exceptions to this. No parent is perfect, and we do not get given a parenting manual which means that everyone has childhood suffering that we hold within us. Psychologists would say that we need to strive for the good enough parent. Can you see some aspects of your parent that fitted the “good enough parent” terminology?
4) Cultivate Separating the Good from the Bad
To forgive is not to condone the behaviour that our parents showed us during our childhood. It is important that we can look forward to our future knowing that we didn’t have a happy upbringing but we can make sure that our journey into adulthood is a positive way forward. We will take the steps it takes to help ourselves feel better, and we will trust ourselves.
5) Open Your Heart to Your Suffering
It will take time to forgive your mother correctly and to move forward. Try not to rush yourself or the process. It’s okay to feel unsettled and uncomfortable as many emotions are going to resurface when you put in the hard work. Open up to a loved one about how you’re feeling and try to release some of the pain through talking or perhaps journaling. Whatever works for you to express how you feel is the way forward. Remember that you’re not alone, and there is always someone at 7 Cups to listen.
6) Follow the Path of Forgiveness
Getting to a forgiving place, finding the forgiving self inside us, is a long and complicated journey. We have to be ready to forgive. We have to want to forgive. It will ultimately take time, patience and self-love. The deeper the wound, the longer it takes to heal. This is especially relevant to those significant relationships that are strained. If you are struggling on your path to forgiveness, it might be appropriate for you to seek professional help from a licensed therapist.