International Forgiveness Day
Forgiveness has a powerful, positive impact on everything it touches. But you already know that. Being a happy human being demands that we extend and receive forgiveness.
You might not know that August 3rd is the 18th annual celebration of International Forgiveness Day. The Worldwide Forgiveness Alliance declared it so and their mission is to expand the healing power of forgiveness throughout the world.
Here is a chance to lighten your load. Forgiveness is an essential part of the 4-Step Honorable Closure Process for Skillful Endings and often represents the biggest challenge for people.
Let’s face it: sometimes we aren’t ready to forgive. We intend to free ourselves, but we just can’t swing it yet. [For example, if I had experienced a betrayal on the scale of Huma Abedin (Anthony Weiner’s wife) I might not be able or willing to forgive as she has done. We must take her at her word and bow to her grace and courage.] If that is the case for you, can you forgive yourself for not yet being ready to forgive? Forgiveness is learnable. Why not start with yourself?
It is important to understand what forgiveness is, and what it is not.
Forgiveness is: a choice, a gift you give yourself (not the offender), taking responsibility for how you feel. It’s a learnable skill that gets easier with practice.
Forgiveness is not: condoning mistakes, forgetting that something painful happened, and does not require reconciliation with the offender.
Forgive is a verb implying deliberate action, forward momentum, a way to get unstuck from the past.
It’s affirmative and always about the present and the future, not the past, though we may think it is about the past. The time zone where we experience suffering is in the present, the eternal Now. Forgiveness allows us to let go of our present moment response. This is why it is so important to acknowledge and allow those feelings to arise, so they can move through us and be released.
Seven research studies done over 15 years by Dr. Fred Luskin of the Stanford University Forgiveness Project showed forgiveness reduces depression (-42%) and increases feelings of self-confidence (+22%), hope (+22%) and optimism (+28%). Practicing forgiveness is good for business, as shown by a 13% increase in production based on one study conducted inside a corporation.
If you are holding a grudge against someone (or even yourself), consider letting it go this weekend. Be part of an international movement towards inner and outer peace.
If you’d like to learn more about Dr. Luskin’s work, check out his book “Forgive For Good – A Proven Prescription for Health and Happiness.”