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Authors: Iyanla Vanzant

Forgiveness

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ALSO BYIYANLAVANZANT

BOOKSPeace from Broken Pieces:How to Get Through What You’re Going ThroughTapping the Power Within:A Path to Self-Empowerment for WomenIn the Meantime:Finding Yourself and the Love You WantActs of Faith:Daily Meditations for People of ColorOne Day My Soul Just Opened Up:40 Days and 40 NightsToward Spiritual Strength and Personal GrowthUntil Today!:Daily Devotions for Spiritual Growth and Peace of MindDon’t Give It Away!:A Workbook of Self-Awareness and Self-Affirmations for Young WomenLiving Through the Meantime:Learning to Break the Patterns of the Pastand Begin the Healing ProcessYesterday, I Cried:Celebrating the Lessons of Living and LovingThe Value in the Valley:A Black Woman’s Guide Through Life’s DilemmasEvery Day I Pray:Prayers for Awakening to the Grace of Inner CommunionFaith in the Valley:Lessons for Women on the Journey to PeaceThe Spirit of a Man

CDs/DVDsPeace from Broken PiecesIn the Meantime:Music That Tells the StoryLiving from Your CenterGiving to Yourself FirstFinding FaithGiving Thanks

CARD DECKSUntil Today Cards:A 50-Card DeckTips for Daily Life Cards:A 50-Card Deck

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Copyright © 2013 by Iyanla Vanzant

Published in the United States by:SmileyBooks, 2776 Loker Ave. West, Carlsbad, CA 92010 •www.SmileyBooks.com

Distributed in the United States by:Hay House, Inc.:www.hayhouse.com•Published and distributed in Australia by:Hay House Australia Pty. Ltd.:www.hayhouse.com.au•Published and distributed in the United Kingdom by:Hay House UK, Ltd.:www.hayhouse.co.uk•Published and distributed in the Republic of South Africa by:Hay House SA (Pty), Ltd.:www.hayhouse.co.za•Distributed in Canada by:Raincoast:www.raincoast.com•Published and distributed in India by:Hay House Publishers India:www.hayhouse.co.in

Cover design: Juan Roberts / Creative LunacyCover and inside images by David Chidgey,http://artglassmosaics.comInterior design: Cindy Shaw /CreativeDetails.net

Energy Points Diagram Copyright © 2013 Lindsay Kennywww.ProEFT.com. All rights reserved.

Grateful acknowledgment is made to Frank J. Ellis for his generous contribution of the Daily Prayer for A Course in Miracles Workbook, Days 1-18.

Additional credits on page 323 are an extension of the copyright page.

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced by any mechanical, photographic, or electronic process, or in the form of a phonographic recording; nor may it be stored in a retrieval system, transmitted, or otherwise be copied for public or private use—other than for “fair use” as brief quotations embodied in articles and reviews—without prior written permission of the publisher.

The author of this book does not dispense medical advice or prescribe the use of any technique as a form of treatment for physical or medical problems without the advice of a physician, either directly or indirectly. The intent of the author is only to offer information of a general nature to help you in your quest for emotional and spiritual well-being. In the event you use any of the information in this book for yourself, which is your constitutional right, the author and the publisher assume no responsibility for your actions.

Library of Congress Control Number: 2013947918Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4019-4361-5

14 13 12 11  4 3 2 11st edition, December 2013Printed in the United States of America

DEDICATION

This book is dedicated tomy mother Sahara Elizabeth,my grandmothers Rissie Holloway and Laura Gill Jefferson,my stepmother Lynnette May Brown-Harris,my aunt Nancy McCullum,my sister Leola Ijalu McCullum-Opeodu,and all the women who have mothered methroughout my life.

I forgive my mind for thinking and myself for believingthat who you were and what you gave me was not enough,was not right, and was not exactly what I needed.

I forgive myself for judging the women who mothered me.

 

Everything that happens to me is part of the plan for my awakening, including those challenging events that force me to shift out of my inertia and self-limiting behavior patterns. From the depth of my soul, I call out for growth. I pray to be released from my burdens and to discover and express my gifts. From deep within my pain, I call for peace. From deep within my co-dependency, I call for the courage and the freedom to be myself, to forgive myself, and to forgive all others.

—PAULFERRINI, EVERYDAYWISDOM

CONTENTS

PART I:THEPRACTICE

Why Forgive?Emotional TriggersJudge Not!Tapping Into Forgiveness

PART II:21 DAYS OFFORGIVENESS

Day 1: I Forgive MyselfDay 2: I Forgive My BodyDay 3: I Forgive My LifeDay 4: I Forgive My MotherDay 5: I Forgive My FatherDay 6: I Forgive GodDay 7: I Forgive My FeelingsDay 8: I Forgive My Weaknesses and FailuresDay 9: I Forgive My ChoicesDay 10: I Forgive My Relationship with MoneyDay 11: I Forgive My Job, Work, or CareerDay 12: I Forgive WomenDay 13: I Forgive MenDay 14: I Forgive My Partner/Ex-PartnerDay 15: I Forgive My Brother/SisterDay 16: I Forgive My Son/DaughterDay 17: I Forgive OthersDay 18: I Forgive the WorldDay 19: Forgiveness Letter 1Day 20: Forgiveness Letter 2Day 21: Forgiveness Letter 3AcknowledgmentsAbout the Author

WELCOME, BELOVED!

We are about to embark on an exciting and life-changing journey. For some of us, this trek will be as challenging as climbing up a steep mountain while carrying a hundred pounds on our backs. For others, it will be like having a tooth extracted without Novocain. For many of us—those of us who are ready to change, heal, and grow—we will be energized and sometimes shocked with joy over how much we learn about ourselves and how good we begin to feel in the process. We are about to dive headfirst, soul deep into the practice of forgiveness.

What I have learned during my 30-year sojourn through the science of personal and spiritual growth and healing is that forgiveness will cure whatever ails you. The other thing I am totally convinced of is that while forgiveness ain’t easy, it’s the most important inner work you can do within your mind and heart.

Most of us were never taught that any experience that comes into your life comes by energetic invitation. For this reason, it is imperative that you learn how to keep your energy clear. The practice of forgiveness is your ticket to clarity, vitality, and freedom.

Over the years, I have received hundreds of thousands of letters written by people from all walks of life. Many reveal excruciating stories of sorrow and suffering. At one time, I would write long responses, offering condolences and possible explanations for the tragedies people had endured. Then my daughter passed away, and I was inconsolable. I ended a 40-year relationship, and I was enraged. I was forced to move out of my dream home, and I was ashamed and degraded.

If you know anything about my life story, you know that I have been to some very dark places. Through every experience of my “life breakdown,” the only thing that made me feel as if I was still in possession of my right mind, with the capacity to make it through the darkness, was forgiveness. Now, I am sharing what I learned through those experiences with you.

Even when I didn’t know whom to forgive or why I should forgive, I said the words. I wrote them in my journal. I cried and screamed, pouted and sometimes I even stomped my feet in resistance, but in the end I learned to forgive everyone for everything, including myself. In the process, I discovered something extraordinary. I discovered peace.

THIS BOOK IS MY LOVING CHALLENGE FOR YOU TO COME OUT OF THE DARKNESS AND INTO THE LIGHT.

This book is my loving challenge for you to come out of the darkness and into the light. This “21 Days to Forgive Everyone for Everything” practice is my formal invitation for you to join me in an intensive personal transformation process. It’s a multidimensional ritual that will clear the decks of your mind and heart to create the space necessary for you to live with more love for yourself and others. This practice will help you achieve a deeper sense of peace and well-being and gain increased clarity about the lessons and blessings available to you. It is my way of walking with you through the twists and turns of your life so that you can discover the hidden path to whatever your heart desires.

I can promise you that if you take this journey with me, you will learn a great deal about yourself, and that is always a good thing. I can also promise that if you hang in there with me, you will begin to see yourself, your life, your every experience, and every person in your life from a new point of view.

Even though I will be with you every step of the way on this journey, I have also invited some friends to join us. When you walk with friends it can make a challenging or difficult journey seem a lot shorter and a great deal easier. At the beginning of selected day’s practice, you will meet a “forgiveness friend,” a contributor, who will share their story of transformation. From losing a mother in a murder to the reconciliation of siblings, each story reveals that as Reinhold Niebuhr says, “Forgiveness is the final form of love.” Forgiveness can do that. It can sharpen and broaden your vision. Then, the vision will pull you forward into a totally new way of being, seeing, and living. I promise you, we can do this—if we do it together.

We can do this if you make the commitment now. We can do this if you are ready to stop feeling bad; stop being wounded; stop wondering why this or that; stop holding grudges; and stop giving yourself reasons and excuses to be, do, and have less than you desire. We can do this if you are ready to experience a miracle in your life. Now remember, this is not easy, but it is doable. So get yourself a beautiful Forgiveness Journal and a special pen, andlet’s begin!

Much love 2 u!

Iyanla

WHY FORGIVE?

You might be asking yourself, “Why would I want to practice forgiveness?” The answer is simple. Practice develops skill. Skill leads to mastery. When you master the practice of forgiveness, it becomes as natural as breathing. And when you know how to forgive, you eliminate excess mental and emotional weight that keeps you stuck in repetitive situations, circumstances, and experiences that are not healthy or productive.

The only true way to create a more loving, productive, and fulfilling life is by forgiving the past. Releasing the past restores us to the full energy of the present moment.

Everything we do and experience in life is born from the energy we carry. People and experiences show up in response to the conscious and unconscious energetic invitations we issue. Many of us believe that what happens to us gives rise to the feelings we experience. The truth is, it’s the other way around.

Forgiveness addresses how we think and feel about others and ourselves, and how those thoughts manifest within our lives as energy. Every feeling has its origin in a thought, because each thought that we have creates energy. If you can remove the thought, the underlying feeling will bubble to the surface. That’s why we are forgiving our thoughts throughout this process.

As Michael Grant, author ofThe Twelve Laws of Lifereminds us, “Your mind controls your mood. In fact, it is safe to say that you always have some thought (mind) before you feel something emotionally (mood). The thought might be so fast and seemingly ‘automatic’ that you don’t even see it or think you are thinking it but you are. The truth is that what you think determines what you feel—it’s a basic law of life.”

If you can tap into and identify the feeling, you will discover that there’s a thought linked to it. Once you remove the feeling, the thought will also dissipate. Whether you explore the source thought or the feeling doesn’t matter. What matters is, if a situation, circumstance, or relationship doesn’t feel good, that’s a sign that there’s someone or something you have to forgive.

It’s all about energy. The true and pure energy of life, good, and God is positive energy. In this practice we deal with the thought because the mind is a powerful, creative energy. Everything we think, do, and feel begins in the mind. For this reason, we have to address the thoughts, beliefs, judgments, learnings, and perceptions that we hold in our minds. When we can identify the stuck feelings underneath our constant thoughts and neutralize them, we will be good. Forgiveness helps to transform and eliminate the energy blockages that we hold in our minds about who we are and who others are, and the subsequent issues or upsets that grow from the thoughts, beliefs, and judgments we hold. Creating a loving, healthy, and fulfilling life plus loving, healthy, and fulfilling relationships begins in the mind.

Many of us live in our heads because feelings can be frightening. It’s easier to stay in our heads thinking, believing, and judging, since doing so seems safer than navigating through uncomfortable feelings. I refer to folks who live like this as “neck-down-dead!” because there’s no life below the neck. They think about everything and often come across as cold, detached, and unfeeling, and in many cases, they are just that.

The energy of a feeling doesn’t die or go away because we ignore or resist it. In fact, it is the energy of the unacknowledged feeling beneath the distorted thoughts that keeps us stuck. Our feelings send harmonious or disharmonious energy signals throughout our bodies. Yet if we drop our hands to our sides, sit in the feeling for a moment, and just breathe instead of numbing out, the feeling will pass. Too often, we choose to avoid feelings because they frighten us. But once we learn how to harness the energy behind our thoughts, our emotions will no longer be in control of how we feel and what we do. Forgiveness is a practice that helps us to realign our thoughts and feelings under new conscious management.

Think of it this way: the mind is like a little puppy. A puppy will run around all over the place until we train him to do otherwise. If we don’t train the puppy, he’ll grow into a full-grown dog that will pee on the carpet, chew on our shoes, and hump our guests. When we train our own “puppy mind” to sit, stay, and roll over on command, our thoughts become clearer and our negative feelings become easier to identify, navigate, and release.

Of course, training the mind can be difficult. That’s where meditation and forgiveness come into play. These two practices—meditation and forgiveness—still the “puppy mind” so that the energy blocked in our bodies can bubble up to the surface and be released. Until we learn how to meditate, we cannot clear our “puppy mind” thoughts. And unless we practice forgiveness, we have no way of releasing the hidden feelings attached to those thoughts.

Quite often we are stuck in the memories of what we have done or not done; what others have done to us or not done for us. How we think and feel about others and ourselves can keep us stuck in a swamp of toxic emotions. More often than not, we’re self-righteous about what we think and feel. We become quick to judge and slow to forgive. We believe what we believe, and we stubbornly stick to it. Unfortunately, our toxic thoughts and feelings do not nurture or nourish us, nor do they make or keep us peaceful and loving.

FORGIVENESS ADDRESSES HOW WE THINK AND FEEL ABOUT OTHERS AND OURSELVES AND HOW THOSE THOUGHTS MANIFEST WITHIN OUR LIVES AS ENERGY.

I offer you this simple formula for recognizing discordant thoughts and feelings.First you think, then you feel, and finally you hold the energy in your body.For example, if you think that you have been or are being abandoned, you may feel the need to hold on to things and people. As a result, you may act clingy or needy, which will chase people away from you, and that will in turn prompt even greater feelings of abandonment within you.

Neck-down-dead people, those who refuse to feel their true feelings, will do just the opposite. Rather than deal with their repressed thoughts and feelings of abandonment, they refuse to become attached in the first place. They come across as cold and hard-hearted, which also chases others away. They escalate their disowned feelings and re-create the same painful experiences over and over again. Unfortunately, the “neck-down-dead” like to lay their issues at the feet of other people and project their unprocessed thoughts /feelings onto everybody else.

FORGIVENESS BUILDS MENTAL, EMOTIONAL, AND SPIRITUAL MUSCLES.

Practicing forgiveness will heal the original experience of abandonment that has resulted in the subsequent detachment from feelings. Our work in this forgiveness practice will be to get to the underbelly of the experience in order to release the thoughts and feelings that perpetuate the merry-go-round ride. Forgiveness is a process that stops the ride and eliminates the wounds of the past from the mind and the heart. Forgiveness supports our growth into a new way of thinking, being, and living. Forgiveness builds mental, emotional, and spiritual muscles. In today’s world,muscle—i.e., strength and endurance—is something we can all use a lot more of each and every day.

Throughout this forgiveness practice, you will be asked to identify thoughts and beliefs. A belief is a thought—fueled by a feeling—that you think over and over until it becomes habitual. Once a thought becomes habitual, you no longer even recognize that you are thinking it. For this reason, it is absolutely essential to identify and release the long-held, worn-out beliefs that often hold toxic thoughts in place. For the neck-down-dead people, such revelations may be a bit challenging. No worries, though! I’ve got you covered.

EMOTIONAL TRIGGERS

Sometimes identifying the thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and judgments you may need to forgive is not easy. The intuitive tool that follows is designed to assist you in tapping into and receiving feedback from the subconscious mind about the unforgiving and often hidden aspects of your consciousness. These are the things that may block, delay, hinder, obstruct, or deny personal growth and healing. They are also the things that lower your personal energy vibration. Identifying and forgiving these energetic blockages is essential for personal evolution.

This list is in no way exhaustive; however, it covers most of the common and habitual feelings that the average person experiences without even thinking about it. When you come to the belief-clearing portion of your forgiveness practice, this list may prove to be invaluable, as it will help you identify the feeling that is hidden beneath the thought.

Scan the Emotional Trigger List quickly across one line at a time. If a word catches your attention, write it down. While many of the entries may not seem to apply to you, be sure to scan the list each day before you tackle the forgiveness topic of the day and begin writing your 12 Forgiveness Statements.

For example, be sure to scan the Emotional Trigger List before engaging the Forgiveness Practice for forgiving your mother, your father, and, yes, even God. Remember to be radically honest with yourself and about how you feel. Do not judge (“I shouldn’t think/feel this way”) or be concerned about how many triggers actually apply to your thoughts and feelings about yourself or other people.

Review the following Emotional Trigger words to help you identify all of the blocks that may be present in your heart and/or mind. Just know that judgments and energy blockages exist when:

I believe I am …I believe he/she/they are …I think/I feel/I anticipate/I avoidthe following Emotional Triggers

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