I’m here to tell you that you’re going to screw your kids up. You just are. Let me tell you how it happens. And the reason I know you’re going to screw your kids up is because most of the adults you talk to, the vast majority, think their parents screwed them up.
How do they screw us up?
Something happened where our parents said or did something that we think has caused us to become in some way an unfavorable version of who we want to be. It’s a weak characteristic. Or it’s a behavior that we do. And then we blame them, right? That’s how the screw-up happens whether they intended to or not. And this is how it’s going to happen with our kids.
You’re fooling yourself if you think it’s not. You might have a list of things you messed up, but that’s not even going to be the thing that screws them up. The crazy thing is that it’s going to be something you don’t even remember.
The way it works is that you are going to say or do something at a time where the planets have aligned in such a way that this kid is feeling a certain way, they have a certain belief structure in place, this is what’s happening in their world, this is what’s happening in your house, this is what’s happening in the big world and BAM! There’s the “screw-up”.
They’re going to come back and say, “Do you remember when you said…?” And you’re not going to remember. But that was the defining moment for them.
So, you’re going to screw them up. Who cares? I’m going to believe this about you…we are out doing the best we can. We’re doing the best we can, just like hopefully our parents were doing the best they could. We’ve got to believe that about them.
So let’s get to the topic of forgiveness. Because that is all we can do. If we can’t prevent it, then what can we do?
Forgiveness has a lot of different components. It’s actually kind of a complicated subject. There is forgiveness of others. Then there is forgiveness when we’re forgiven. And then there’s forgiveness of ourselves. And I’m going to argue that it’s the forgiveness of yourself that is the really really sticky and very much most important one.
Let’s say in the best case scenario, you’ve done something. And I’m not just talking about kids now, parents and parenting. I’m talking about all relationships: intimate relationships, family relationship, social relationships.
So you’ve done something that the other person has perceived as harming them. In the best case scenario, you do every action you need to do to take responsibility for it. They accept those and they forgive you. However, sometimes that can happen and we don’t forgive ourselves. We continue to carry the weight of what we’ve done. Even though we’ve been absolved, we carry it. We see it as a weakness in ourselves and a way that we’re unworthy.
Then there’s the worst case scenario where you’ve done something that has harmed a relationship and they are not going to forgive you. They’re going to continue to punish you in whatever way that is and they want you to continue to punish yourself and not forgive yourself. Let’s say THAT’S the situation.
You’ve got to decide if you’re going to buy that or not. Are you going to live that way? Because you can decide to forgive yourself and release yourself from that.
When we carry around this weight and we don’t forgive ourselves, it’s heavy on our heart and it’s blocking our heart. It makes us feel bad about ourselves. And when we’re blocking our heart and we can’t forgive ourself, then we can’t accept ourself. And if we can’t accept ourself, then we can’t love ourself. And if we can’t love ourself, then we cannot fully immerse, engage, and experience the relationships in our lives. We will never know the depth that they can have, because we don’t love ourselves enough to bring everything that we can to that relationship, whether it’s our own kids, our parents, our intimate relationships or social relationships.
As long as we carry that around and carry that shield around, that’s how we’re going to live our lives.
I am here to tell you that it’s not supposed to be lived that way. You are meant to live a life of joy and meaning and of feeling love for yourself and everyone around you.
So I suggest that you just take that off and dump it! Forgive yourself. Absolve yourself of all of these sins you’re carrying around and all of this punishment you are putting yourself through. Be done.
Nobody can do it for you. Not the person that you wronged, not your priest, not your friends, not me. If I could wave a magic wand and get you to dump it, I would! But I can’t. Only you can do it.
Take that self-forgiveness step where you just release it all and be done. You’re letting that go. “I’ve taken the actions necessary to hold myself responsible for that. I’m going forward without that weight on my heart.” That’s the way to live life. That’s why self-forgiveness is so important.
And if you’re holding onto a hurt that someone else has “done” to you or that’s your perception anyway, there’s still a little bit of self-forgiveness that has to happen in there.
Because a lot of times what’s going in is that we have a certain responsibility in that situation. Deep within ourselves, we’re holding ourselves accountable for that and we’re not forgiving ourselves for how we showed up and what we did and how that hurt us. If there is any little bit of self-forgiveness that needs to happen in that, start there.
When you start forgiving yourself, it becomes a lot easier to begin to forgive other people. You want forgiveness to be going on everywhere. Then you’ll look at your parents and think, “They did the best they could and I’m not so bad.” Maybe you want to tweak things about yourself and continue to grow and become self-aware. That’s fine, good, fantastic!
When your kids come to you and tell you how you screwed them up, you can let them have that experience and still have self-forgiveness that allows you to go forward. And this is true in any of our relationships.
That’s my little bit for today on forgiveness. I urge you to take time aside to reflect on this. Put yourself in front of a mirror and forgive yourself so that you can move on and experience love in all aspects of your life and in all ways that it is supposed to be experienced.