Father’s day can be a source of angst: sad, hurt and angry feelings may surface and one may try to avoid this day at all costs. Weeding – pulling out the unwanted stuff and leaving the good stuff - got me thinking: when it comes to our relationships with our Dads, how can we hold on to the good stuff and weed out the bad stuff? What are some strategies? What does it take to do it successfully?
First, we must acknowledge our feelings. Feelings are messengers that need to be listened to. What are they trying to tell you? The feelings need to be felt in order to be released. Sometimes the best way to do this is to sit quietly and feel. Other tools that can facilitate this are:
- talking about it with someone you trust
- crying, screaming, getting it out physically via exercise, sports, using a punching bag, etc.
Acknowledging the feelings and expressing them in a safe way helps to release them. If you come from a dysfunctional family, counseling, coaching, speaking with clergy you trust and/or going to an ACA meeting (Adult Children of Alcoholics or Dysfunctional Families) can be powerful support.
Next, we will need to be willing to sift through our experiences with our Dad to see the good, the bad, and the ugly. We may be well aware of the bad. What was the good? Many times we focus on the bad but neglect to look at the positives we can take from that relationship.
My Dad could be very controlling and judgemental, yet he could also be humble, hospitable and loving. He taught us the importance of family, being of service and having fun. Because of his example and the way he trained us, I’ve learned the benefits of being a hard worker and doing my best.
It took years of therapy and recovery in ACA for me to come to terms – to be at peace – with my relationship with my Dad. I’m grateful it happened before he passed. And I was able to express my appreciation to him, which was such a gift.
Coaching helps us look at a situation from different perspectives:
- How do I see the situation now?
- What would be a more empowering perspective?
Could it be that my Dad had scars from growing up in an alcoholic family that he never healed from? Could it be his controlling nature came from his own fears of not measuring up, fears of not being good enough and from his deep desire to please God and others?
Seeing my Dad as a child, who was raised by two loving but dysfunctional, alcoholic parents, helped me come to a place of compassion for what he went through. But in order to arrive at compassion I had to walk the way of acknowledging, expressing and releasing my anger.
So let's recap the process of moving from a place of angst regarding our relationships with our Dads, or any relationship or situation for that matter, to a place of peace:
- Have a strong desire and commitment to do the required work - WIT = Whatever It Takes
- Acknowledge your feelings
- Express your feelings in a safe, appropriate manner
- Release your feelings through that expression and be willing to let it go
- Be willing to see it from another perspective – a different point of view
That being said, there are some relationships that are just too toxic to continue. Only you will know if you need to walk away. Doing the work can help you know what to do, and empower you to move on in peace.
Where are you with your relationship with your Dad? What do you need to release? What do you appreciate about the relationship and/or what it taught you?
If you are willing to share, please leave a comment. If you don’t want to share your last name, that’s perfectly A-Ok.
Until next time, I wish you courage and willingness to do the work.
Peace and many blessing on your journey.