Step 1: First, acknowledge how you truly feel about your father
Do you, for example, feel proud of him, or embarrassed about him? Have you felt like leaving an event when he arrived at the same venue? How do you feel telling someone, “Meet my father.” Do you feel overwhelmed by your father’s “shadow”?
Next, compare various aspects of your life with your dad’s life. If there is a close match, it is likely you are drawing influences from your father. Areas to check:
(i) Traits of men you engage with.
(ii) Your lifestyle.
(iii) Your language.
(iv) Your composure.
If your relationship with your dad negatively influences the way you relate with other people, especially men, it is time to deliberately de-link your psyche from him.
By appreciating who he is/was, you come to accept that people are different. Even you are different from other people; you have your own character. Accept that your dad is who he is or was. And that your dad is NOT you.
Step 2: What are your dad’s strengths and weaknesses? (traits he likely passed on to you)
Write down all the good and bad things you know about your dad. There are some instances where you may actually find that there is/was so much good in your dad that it surprises you. Bad traits tend to overwhelm what is good; and putting down all traits of your dad makes you recognize and accept his strengths and weaknesses.
Step 3: Call a spade a spade: Accept your past father-daughter relationship – is in the past!
How you interacted with your dad in the past is out there – in the past. What you can influence is the future. Even if he was to change, that would be in the future. The past is what it is. Stop the regrets now. Life cannot be re-lived, but your spirit can be re-newed.
Step 4: Start thinking about yourself
Now that you have thought about your dad and you understand him better, it’s time to turn your attention to yourself. What can you remember that is great about you in your past? You may be tempted to say – nothing really (and that may be due to one of your dad’s influences). Stop! There must be something you did, said, achieved, etc. that brought a good feeling at the time it happened. Pick that up, it belongs to you! Now take your thoughts back to some thing you did for someone. Anyone. At any time in your life. Remember and note good times that you had as a child; remember times that you were useful to others.
Step 5: Re-establish your worth
Take your positive childhood experiences, memories and achievements to understand your worth and abilities. Start to re-establish yourself from those childhood times all through to your now. You will find that many of the great childhood abilities and mannerisms you had have survived the weather. You can still do great stuff and think great thoughts! Things your father said or did then are, luckily, in the past. You are now grown up and in a position to replace his words with your positive thoughts. To counter his negative actions with your positive ambitions.
Step 6: Grab the “feeling good about myself” moment, and run with it!
If you start feeling good about yourself, that is very much in order. Run with it! Promise yourself that things will change, because you will make them change. There is a divine power given to us by the Creator, free for our use in our proclamations. Call upon that divine power and declare your future shall not be determined by the shadows of the past.
Step 7: Start the separation process
It’s now time to objectively list down all those aspects of your life that your dad’s shadow commands. For example, if you hate men because your dad was a bad man, list that as one of the “shadows”. If you drink yourself senseless because your dad brought booze to the house and made you a drug addict, pick that as a “shadow”. This list of shadows is your new war fronts. Remember you have the ammunition to destroy them, so list them boldly.
Step 8: Strategise for the war
Prepare for the fight. Every change must be a result of strategy. Note down the response you need to mete on each of the “shadows”. What exactly you need to do, the knowledge you need to gain, the tools you need to use. For example, if you are an alcoholic, you need to know which rehabilitation centres are near you, what they do and where they are. If you hate yourself or how you look because your dad once said you are ugly, you need to find inspirational groups and counselors that can put that behind you.
Step 9: Arm yourself
Engage with the tools and knowledge that you need. Browse the internet, visit places, talk to people, and collect all the things you need to help you ward of the “shadows”. Seek the views of other people about various aspects of life, and compare those to what your dad made you believe. Learn objectively; you will find that people’s views can be substantially different even on what seems straightforward; and that enhances your conviction that it’s your own view that ultimately counts in your life!