Struggling with estrangement? Try radical forgiveness for fractured relationships
BY PAT HANSON, PH.D.
Do you harbor a grievance or hold on to toxic energy about people, places, and institutions that are blocking you from seeing your grandkids as much as you’d like?
As someone prevented from seeing her grandchildren, I found Colin Tipping’s steps of “radical forgiveness” helpful in coming to grips with my situation. If you’re an invisible grand, you can download free worksheets that will help you transform any negative energy that comes to forgiveness.
Tipping’s 5 Simple Steps
The steps he recommends are simple, and, yes, parts of them are spiritual. They are:
- Tell the story.
- Feel the Feelings.
- Collapse the Story.
- Reframe the Story.
- Integrate the New Story.
When I first became an invisible grand, I found myself telling my backstory in a writing group long before my book was published. Writing letters helped me feel my feelings, first those of love for my grandchildren, in letters that I saved, and later those of anger and resentment, in letters that I burned while dancing to Janis Joplin’s Piece of My Heart.
You need fresh eyes
Collapsing the story means to truly release the version you’ve been telling yourself (and others) up until now, making room for new possibilities. Then you can release the energy surrounding it by separating the facts from the interpretations you have made up about it.
To reframe any upset, try seeing it differently. Try a cosmic perspective. Our problems matter to us at the time, but if we rise above them and realize the earth turns, night becomes day, and myriads of people have problems far more serious than our own, our situation can diminish in comparison.
Look for a spiritual purpose
It was difficult to think that “divine destiny” or “karma” might be operating in my situation, but I came to see that writing about my estrangement may have been part of my purpose on this planet. When we become willing to embrace s purpose behind the pain as an option, we may feel immediate peace around the situation, and in other aspects of our lives.
Find a support group
It takes courage to get over the embarrassment and share your story of estrangement with a friend, professional counselor, or support group, but do it. Support groups can be found at Alienated Grandparents Anonymous that has chapters in 50 states, and 12 countries, or The Grandparent Grandchild connection.
Deep inside each of us is a place of peace and love, where only kindness matters. Finding that place is a lifelong practice that begins and ends with us. Start today by grandmothering yourself. Whisper in your own ear the positive possibilities that could happen.
Dr. Pat Hanson is a seasoned health educator, public speaker, and workshop facilitator. She is the author of Invisible Grandparenting: Leave A Legacy Of Love Whether You Can Be There or Not. She lectures nationally on Aging Positively and is a columnist for the magazine: Crone: Women Coming of Age