Last Updated on September 21, 2023 by Jade Lin
For Father, Mother, Brother, Sister,
And all who share our family tree.
For all the ways we’ve hurt each other,
For all the pain we’ve caused to be.
I open my heart and let go of the anger,
The resentment, the bitterness, the blame.
I forgive you, and I forgive myself,
And I release us from this cycle of pain.
Unraveling Unprocessed Emotions
From my teenage years, I grappled with communication hurdles, particularly within my family — those who should naturally be closest to us and from whom our relational foundations are shaped. Reflecting on pivotal moments during my upbringing, it’s evident that my encounters with authoritative figures carried lasting significance. Attempting to engage in discussions on sensitive matters, I sought understanding and connection, yet unintentional rejection was the repetitive outcome. These instances became the seeds that unknowingly germinated into a subconscious fear of rejection—a deeply rooted behavioral framework.
The byproduct of this evolving pattern was a sense of overwhelm whenever family interactions came into play, leading to an automatic response of avoidance. Avoiding family interactions became my way of rejecting others. The cyclic nature of these patterns gave rise to anxiety, weaving itself into the fabric of my existence. By anxiety, I refer to the stressful emotion due to activation of the nervous system rather than to a diagnosis.
In essence, my adolescent encounters with rejection laid the foundation for a fear that silently dictated my subsequent behaviors. This subconscious fear, firmly embedded within my operating system, manifested as avoidance and anxiety, perpetuating patterns that confined me to a cycle of distress and uncertainty.
Analyzing the Roots of Anxiety
During a recent visit to family, I started reflecting on what is keeping this anxiety alive despite all the inner work I am so proud of. And boy, were there an abundance of thoughts to that question, to a degree I would label as analysis paralysis—a type of behavior with excessive analysis and no action! Overthinking and anxiety are not isolated phenomena; they are threads woven into the intricate fabric of the conscious and unconscious realms.
Overthinking can be seen as a symbolic expression of the unconscious attempting to communicate with the conscious mind. The ceaseless analysis and rumination are the psyche’s way of addressing unprocessed emotions or unresolved conflicts.
Anxiety, often arising from the fear of the unknown, triggers an intensified need for control and understanding. This need can manifest as overthinking. One of my biggest fears from childhood that stayed with me for far too long into adulthood is the fear of rejection. To avoid being rejected, I would analyze events excessively and developed the habit of rumination. Some of the typical thoughts that circulate either criticize others for not following my lifestyle of healthy development or involve self-criticism for still struggling to connect with family despite all the inner work I committed to over the years. That is more than enough to keep one stuck and anxious. Anxiety is part of being human, yet for most of us, our immediate response is to fight against it. This is a major lesson that many of my therapy clients, and others in my life, including myself, struggle with. We fear anxiety and run away from it with closed eyes. To quote Carl Jung, “until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life, and you will call it fate.”
“Until you make the unconscious conscious,
it will direct your life and you will call it fate.”C. G. Jung
Forgiveness as a Bridge to Wholeness
Anxiety, often seen as a source of distress, can be reframed as a catalyst for transformation. So, I began to observe my anxiety with curiosity. Anxiety signals the presence of unconscious energies seeking conscious recognition. The fear of rejection had fueled my anxiety for years. Eventually, I realized that this anxiety was a messenger from my unconscious, beseeching me to acknowledge the unresolved conflicts and emotions that lay dormant.
By listening to the anxiety, I discerned that forgiveness was the key to releasing the entangled energies of resentment and anxiety. Holding onto grudges and grievances keeps these emotions woven into the very fabric of our being, perpetuating anxiety’s grip. Embracing forgiveness became a process of integrating the conscious and unconscious aspects of myself. By acknowledging the shadowy aspects within me and those projected onto others, I illuminated the darkness that had bound me.
Forgiveness, a transformative act, acts as a bridge connecting our conscious awareness to the depths of the soul. Through forgiveness, we untangle the threads that perpetuate anxiety and resentment. By releasing these entwined emotions, we free the energy that was once ensnared. As a result, healing flows through us, reinvigorating our spirit and liberating us from the chains of anxiety.
Forgiveness of others; for not knowing any better. Forgiveness of oneself; for not knowing any better.
The intricate dance of anxiety and forgiveness offers a profound journey of growth and transformation. By unraveling the interwoven nature of these experiences, we can initiate a journey toward healing. Anxiety, far from being an isolated burden, becomes an invitation for self-discovery and acceptance. The fear of rejection I developed early on in life has unconsciously dictated my behavior, whether in small events of not taking risks in life, “playing it safe,” or in sustaining a certain level of anxiety with myself and others. As we engage with the unconscious dialogue, we unveil hidden conflicts, emotions, and archetypal patterns that shape our existence. Through forgiveness, we release the energy bound in resentment and anxiety, weaving a path toward wholeness where the conscious and unconscious realms harmonize.
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