Full disclosure: For this post to deliver on it’s offer, I’ll need you to be an active participant!
If that works for you, by the end of it, I can almost guarantee you’ll feel less guilty about things you didn’t know prior to your child’s regression and be on your way to the essential step of forgiving yourself.
The first thing to do is make sure you have 15 uninterrupted, quiet minutes to yourself…. which actually may be the most difficult part of the entire process!
If now isn’t the time, I encourage you to bookmark this page and come back later.
Please know, the process I’m about to describe isn’t something I invented. It’s simply a method I used to end my absolutely devastating self-blame following my daughter’s regression from vaccine injury. Other friends have also had great success with it and I hope you will too!
When you’re ready to begin, please get a pen and piece of paper.
After you have that, find a comfortable place to sit where you can be alone and relax.
Take several deep breaths, until you feel calmness come over your body. What we are going to do is work on changing your painful beliefs.
In order to do this, you’re going to need to own and embrace the inner emotions that aren’t serving you.
You see, it’s when we detach from our pain that it continues to hurt us. As if it’s nagging, continuously trying to get our attention and it will never stop until we address it.
Logical thinking will never talk us out of the feelings. It’s not until we open up to them and intensely feel the pain that we can finally release it. So that’s what we’re going to do.
For each step, please read the section and then pause to complete the process.
Then read and compete the next section, and so on…
Close your eyes and think very hard about what happened to your child and the events surrounding his or her regression.
Think about everything that triggers your feelings of guilt and responsibility for it. Maybe how you feel you could have known better, done more research, all of the if-only’s that are painful negative obsessions in your mind.
Think only about yourself and your role, not that of other people. Embrace all of the feelings and hold onto them, no matter how painful. Truly feel them as deeply as you can.
Think about these feelings for at least one full minute, longer if you like.
With your pen and paper, begin to write about the feelings you just experienced. Feel into it as you write and don’t limit yourself.
You may feel tears welling up inside, you may start to cry, those are good things. You want to feel all of the pain and keep writing everything that comes to mind that causes you to feel guilt or as if you failed your child.
Try to write for approximately two minutes, or as long as needed.
Reflect on what you wrote and think about the emotions and how heavy the guilt feels to you. Give it an emotional charge ranking from 1-10 on how strongly it affects you in this moment.
1 ranking would be: Not very guilty, I have moved beyond that pain.
10 ranking would be: Extreme regret, sadness and guilt that I cannot get past.
Assuming your number is fairly high, in this step you are going to release those feelings out of your body.
You should close your eyes again and imagine a tornado brewing inside of you. All of the sadness, guilt, if-only’s, and everything giving you the emotional charge you wrote about.
Imagine all of the painful, negative thoughts swirling around and eventually spiraling up and out of your body.
Spend at least 1 full minute (or more) truly feeling into it and picturing the tornado gathering and carrying away the heavy, soul-crushing feelings.
Next, eyes closed, you are going to imagine a place that is tranquil and sacred to you. It could be outdoors, such as in a garden or at the ocean. Somewhere you feel very peaceful.
Then, put yourself into that space and imagine you’re being filled with a warm, healing light. It reaches to all the areas inside of you left open by the tornado that pulled the painful feelings out.
This light is delivering to you the reality of truth that you are not at fault, you will no longer bear the responsibility of guilt. Something that happened, that was not within your control, will no longer dictate how you feel about yourself.
Again, spend one or more minutes envisioning this place and the light.
In this step you will close your eyes again and imagine yourself as a container. It can be any kind of vessel you like.
Inside the container are all of your beliefs about your role in anything that harmed your child, feelings of guilt, that you didn’t do enough, know enough, mistakes you think you made.
If those thoughts stay there, they are going to hurt forever. So we want them to be gone.
Imagine pushing all of those thoughts out of the container. Out the top or the sides, until the container (you) is clean, clear and open.
When it’s empty, you’re going to imagine it filling with the healing light.
As before, spend at least one full minute and don’t stop until you see it clear of all the painful feelings and full of light.
With your eyes closed once again, you will imagine a ‘little you.’ It could be you as a small child.
I believe this is the most important step, so really try to picture the details of your tiny self.
This younger you has been separated from you by all of the feelings of pain. She feels broken and empty. Exhausted and tired of living with this guilt.
Visualize the little you, on the ground, broken. Go to her, pick up the little you, and hug her.
Pour into the little you the light from the container. Fill her up with all of the unconditional truths that are inside.
The truths such as, you did not cause this and you are not at fault.
Tell her what you would tell a child if she came to you with the painful feelings you’ve been having.
“You did your best, you trusted people and that isn’t a bad quality. You are not to blame and you should not and do not deserve to live with these feelings of guilt. It is not your fault.”
Try to be very thorough, spending as long as you wish on this step. Be certain the little you is listening, trusting, and believing you as you soothe and speak kindly to her.
At the end, bring the little you back inside of yourself and embrace the feeling of calm, wholeness, and forgiveness.
Take some deep breaths and reset your body. You’re doing great!
You must always remember now that the little you is part of your inner identity and not allow her to be separated again. Every day, treating yourself with the same kindness you showed her in step 7.
With that in mind, go back to your paper with the emotional charge from 1-10. Think again about all of the feelings you wrote about.
This time, hopefully they seem less painful, perhaps almost like someone else wrote them. Someone who was being much to hard on you and forgetting to comfort the little you. Someone who was not loving herself as much as she should.
If the number you’d assign to the pain is less now than what you wrote before, then you did a great job of connecting with some of that pain and releasing it.
Congratulations! Not only did you take time to do some important self-care, but feeling better inside makes you a better parent as well.
I found that after I completed these steps and shifted my inner beliefs, in the days and months and years to come, I no longer obsessed on the feelings. At times I’ve wondered if they will come back, but they haven’t. They simply aren’t a part of my reality anymore.
The best part is, forgiving myself made me so much stronger to tackle all of the things in life that I can change.
A wonderful thing about this process is that you can go back and do it as many times as you like, for as many painful thoughts as you need to release.
Sometimes, it’s possible that removing one set of beliefs leads us to realize we have other painful thoughts, about which we are also obsessing.
With situations where we trusted others for advice that harmed our child, it could happen that the guilt is gone but anger takes it’s place. Unfortunately, anger can’t get us anywhere and always hurts us far more than the people or institution we’re resenting.
I think we can all agree that when talking kindly to the little us, we would tell her to release her anger and try to center herself with things that bring her joy.
Negative emotions can’t be a long-term part of our core belief system if we want to live our fullest life.
To release and remove them from our reality, we can use the same 8-step process, replacing ‘guilt’ with another highly charged emotion.
Following the steps again, we can clear those negative charges, and move even closer to a life we would want the little us to be living.
A life where we consciously work toward focusing on positives, reducing stress, healing our injured child and perhaps helping other families heal…
A life where our feelings of pain and guilt are behind us, allowing us to genuinely focus on the here and now, and making the best possible life for everyone we love — including ourselves. 💛
For additional blog posts by Rebecca Ferguson – Regarding Caroline, including articles on Recovering Kids, click here