Our family dynamics can be quite a complicated one. Our relationships with our parents are the first relationships we’ve had, and they are perhaps distinct from other relationships in their sheer rawness, in the decades where drama has ensued, in the very fact that we are seen all throughout the different stages and phases and changes in our lives.
We all have different relationships with our father. For some, we may have a nurturing relationship where we are shown early on that the world is a safe place. For others, the relationship may have been ridden with conflicts and difficulties. Regardless of our starting point, we can heal our relationship with our father, and we do this through own conscious actions.
My own relationship with my father was a difficult one, and the yoga practice helped me with forgiveness and acceptance. Ultimately, it boiled down to seeing my father as a human being, just like me, who wasn’t perfect, and who was just trying the best that he can.
I invite you to try this 3-step healing exercise:
First, think of a particular situation wherein your father showed you he loved you. Remember as vividly as you can the words said, what transpired, what time of the day it was. How did the words or actions of your father make you feel? How did you see your father at this given time? Stay in this memory for a little while, and in your mind, tell your father these words: Thank you. See your father as someone who has this capacity to give and show love. See him as this person.
Next, think of a memory wherein your father has said something or done something that hurt you. Remember what he said or did, and see it as though you are watching a movie, observing things as they unfold. Give yourself the space to feel the past hurt. Then also start to see that this person, your father, is the same person capable of making you feel safe. He hurt you not because he is a bad person. He hurt you because he is a human being, imperfect, flawed, and has his own issues he is dealing with. Through his hurt, you are hurt. If he could do better, he would have done better. But at that time, it was all he can do, and that meant you are hurt along the way. Notice if you are still carrying the anger or pain or disappointment of this past wound, and in your mind, tell your father: I forgive you. See your father as an imperfect human being who is struggling too. See him as this person.
Lastly, think of a time wherein you have said or done something to hurt your father. Why were you reacting this way? Did you mean what you said or did at that time? Do you still mean it now? What were the underlying emotions behind your hurtful words and actions? How did he react? Notice how you may not be that different from your father, and this karmic relationship you have shows the push and pull of affection and separation. Then in your mind, tell your father: I am sorry. See how similar you are, how predictably human, how imperfect yet with the strength of spirit to carry on. See your father as someone just like you, and see yourself as just like your father.
We may have this thinking in our minds that our lives may be different if only our relationship with our father is different. Consider this perspective. What if it is not by chance we are born into the families we are born into? What if it is through a divine design that our father is our father, so we could be each other’s teachers in this lifetime, teaching each other about love and compassion, patience and forgiveness, seeing both sameness and differences? See your father as your teacher, and with humility, kindness, and compassion, take the learnings from this relationship. There are no such things as coincidences.