The Family Rules Around Forgiveness
Are you holding a grudge or still blaming someone for something that happened years ago? If you just answered “Yes” and you don’t want to do anything about it, this quote is for you, then please stop reading.
“Anger: an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.”
Lucius Annaeus Seneca (Seneca the Younger)
If, however, you would love to let go of the burden you are carrying, then this quote is for you, please read on…
“Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.”
You will no doubt have noticed that both quotes seek to encourage you to let go of the wrongdoing. Seneca describes the neurochemicals that erode the physical body whilst you continue to hold onto the grudge, the venom. If you see how corrosive inaction can be to yourself and others whom you care about, maybe you will take the time to truly let it go. Perhaps, you are kidding yourself that I don’t understand how terrible it ‘was’ for you, but you would be wrong. I know too well how terrible it ‘is’ for you being trapped inside a freeze response, giving a chill to anyone who dares mention his or her name. The ‘was’ and ‘is’ tell us that you are in a cyclical time loop, imprisoned inside the quantum field.
The ‘fragrance’ that Mark Twain speaks of is one of pure forgiveness. This allows you to take something, anything, from the experience and reframe it to your advantage. It may sound very easy to do, but in reality, this can be an almost impossible step if you have a Family Rule running.
What is a Family Rule?
Family Rules are subconscious patterns that literally command your behaviour, your thoughts and even your health or lack thereof. The moment that you were wronged, continues to replay inside your mind over and over again until you take action to clear it.
You may be surprised to learn that the whole negative experience takes place within the blink of an eye. When you feel threatened or experience an overwhelmingly emotional event, real or imagined, your mind creates an emotional memory image (EMI) of the entire episode.
This mental image is then stored inside your mind’s eye, at approximately arm’s length and acts as an evolutionary survival mechanism. Whenever anything remotely similar to the original experience occurs, the EMI ignites the brain’s fight, flight, freeze response system. Think of it like a movement sensor on your house, when something is detected, the lights are activated. This works in virtually the same way.
The EMI is stored in the nonconscious mind, which prevents you from ever being able to consciously access or work with it. The repercussions of not clearing the emotional memory image can result in biological, neurological, physiological, behavioural, or psychological problems.
How are Emotional Memory Images Auditory?
An EMI can be stored as a visual representation or an auditory one. A Family Rule is the statement that you either heard, was implied, or your mind created because of the situation you were in. This rule is directly related to your survival, if you dare to break it then you may die. Yes, it sounds crazy but not to a young mind. For example, if your mother or father starts arguing and one of them leaves, your young mind may interpret this as “If he/she doesn’t return I might die.” So, your mind will figure out a way to bring them back together. You subconscious mind may cause you to become ill or do something terrible. All that matters is your parents coming back together so that you survive. I’ve worked with 40 year old’s who still haven’t forgiven their parents for abandoning them when they divorced 30 years earlier. Lo and behold there would be a Family Rule running in the background. Tragic!
Dysfunctional Family Rules
If you’ve grown up in a dysfunctional family, the chances are you will have Family Rules running that impact your relationships, health, and well-being. When it comes to not forgiving, these are the sort of rules that underpin it:
“If someone wrongs a member of your family, the wrong is done to every member of the family and must be remembered out of respect.”
“Forgiveness is a sign of weakness” “Never forgive, never forget”
“He/she should pay for what they have done to me”
“Never forgive too easily otherwise they will do it again”
As I’m sure you can appreciate the above rules leave little room for flexibility. If you were to be adaptable then you might die! Family Rules create a prison for you and you alone, the moment you are released you realise that you were the judge who sentenced you.
Functional Family Values
The first thing I’d like you to notice is that we are no longer talking about rules, we are now looking at values. Important note: Rules function in certain contexts whereas values encompass all contexts. The following statements seek to soften the situation, allowing light into the shadow that a dark resentment casts.
“Life is too short, and everything comes to pass” “Two wrongs don’t make a right” “Everyone makes mistakes”
“It will all come out in the wash” “The gods will give us faults to make us human”
“Only strong people are able to practice forgiveness”
Take the Lesson and Let the Rest Go
One thing I can guarantee is the moment that you are able to see the event from the other side of the table, your heart and mind will feel more at ease. I hope you can find some answers in my new book Family Rules Okay, available from January 20th 2023.
“Forgiveness is not always easy. At times, it feels more painful than the wound we suffered, to forgive the one that inflicted it. And yet, there is no peace without forgiveness.”