Is Family Baggage Weighing You Down?

Why is it that the people we love most are often the most challenging for us?  Even after years of therapy and personal growth work, conflict with family members often leaves a toxic residue in our lives. Whether the conflict involves a parent, sibling, child or other relative, as we try to move forward in our lives, we find our family baggage weighs us down.  It becomes a heavy burden, sabotaging other relationships and depriving us of the happiness we seek. 

Heading into the holidays, the prospect of family gatherings often triggers contraction or even dread, and it is common for anger and resentment to resurface. There are many strategies out there for coping with difficult family members during the holidays, but wouldn’t you rather be truly free of your family baggage for once and for all? It is possible – through forgiveness.  

You might be thinking — “Why should I forgive when the other person is to blame?”  While understandable, don’t forget: Forgiveness isn’t for the other person’s benefit. It’s for yours.  And it doesn’t mean you are condoning or excusing their poor behavior. Nor does it require you to minimize your hurt. 

Or maybe your concern is that the other person really isn’t trustworthy. So why should you forgive and reopen yourself to further hurt?  Here again, there is often a misconception.  Forgiveness does not mean reconciliation. It does not mean you forget what occurred. If you need to protect yourself with boundaries or distance, you can and should.

Forgiveness simply means you are no longer willing to carry the emotional baggage of anger and resentment. And make no mistake, that baggage is toxic. Anger, resentment and hatred hurt you far more than the other person. By forgiving, you are choosing to release these self-poisoning emotions for your own well-being.

Why not check your family baggage for once and for all – before the holidays? This means grievances, resentments, gripes, blame/shame. All of it.  

No matter how challenging the relationship, forgiveness is the one thing that can transform your relationship with your family. You can’t change them, but you can change yourself, including the way you see the situation, think about the situation and feel about the situation.  You can free yourself from the past baggage and reclaim inner peace and happiness.

I encourage you to give yourself this gift.  If you want to forgive, yet there is something standing in your way, what is it?  Drop me a line, I’d love to hear from you.

On November 12, I’ll be offering an evening program on this topic at the Sunrise Center in Corte Madera, CA.  Hope to see some of you there! 

About Eileen Barker

EILEEN BARKER has been writing and speaking on forgiveness, and guiding people who need to either forgive themselves or someone else, for many years. A practicing litigation lawyer who rejected the traditional adversarial role, Eileen has focused her practice on mediation, helping thousands of people resolve disputes outside of court. This work led her into a deep exploration of forgiveness as it relates to resolving conflict and making peace, both with others and oneself.

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