There is freedom in letting go. Stop beating yourself up already! Stop holding on to old wounds, things you should or should not have done and said, etcetera, etcetera. Blaming and shaming will not change what happened to you or what you did and said to yourself or someone else; however, releasing the pain around the experiences will support healing and moving on with a newfound sense of freedom.
There’s a beautiful book by author and life coach, Iyanla Vanzant, that I’ve had for a long time (long enough for the pages to turn yellow), Tapping the Power Within: A Path to Self-Empowerment for Women. I found this book (or it found me) years ago when I worked in a bookstore and was also becoming much more diligent in my spiritual development. I loved the self-care rituals in it (and still do). It’s an easy read with powerful step-by-step guidance that can be used every day. Let’s be real, guidance on how to let go and forgive is the challenge, so being armed with tools that support practicing forgiveness makes all the difference in the world!
I hadn’t opened Tapping the Power Within in quite a while but found myself drawn to it again about three years ago – right around the time I took the major leap to start The Phoenix Rising Collective. I began to doubt that I could create something of this magnitude on my own from square one. And you know what happens when doubt rears its ugly head? Its companion, negative self-talk, is just around the corner ready to pounce with questions like, “Who in the world do you think are? What makes you think you’re qualified to do this? What if you fail?” Once that starts I’m in the rabbit hole called The Past – past hurts, past pains, and past failures. A close friend and I hold each other accountable when we go to that dark place by saying, “Get outta there! Come back. That’s over. Be present.” We’ve all got our own personal rabbit hole, and the key to digging your way out and keeping it closed is self-awareness: developing the ability to catch negative self-talk when it begins, understanding what triggers it, and committing to practices that heal and create change. So, with that in mind I took Tapping the Power Within off the shelf for a refresher course and immediately turned to the chapter on forgiving and releasing. This is the paragraph that struck a cord: “The Forgiveness Diet included in A Course in Miracles, is a helpful exercise for releasing past hurts, those you remember and those you do not. It requires a commitment of 20 minutes in the morning, 20 minutes at night, and a brand new notebook.” Well, I grabbed my journal and went on a diet.
It was important for me to start this exercise again because I did not want an inability to forgive myself (or others) hindering my success or sabotaging my commitment to live in the fullness of who I am. The Diet says to the ego, “I am well aware that the culmination of my past experiences has prepared me for what I am embarking on now. All is well.”
Two major things that I noticed after completing the exercise were 1) the inner chatter dissipated and I was able to easily replace it with more loving thoughts and affirmations, and 2) I physically felt lighter (when I am thinking about hurtful past experiences I usually carry the emotional load on my shoulders and upper back).
“Forgiveness allows us to be free of the negative experiences of anger, pain, disappointment, guilt, and shame. When we are free, we are open to experience love, joy, happiness, success, and peace. When we forgive, we learn. When we learn, we grow – mentally, physically, and spiritually.” –Iyanla Vanzant, Tapping the Power Within
My challenge to you is try this exercise! I’ve even attached the instructions: The Forgiveness Diet. This will be another productive, spirit-affirming tool to pull out of your I-am-a-self-care-goddess kit, a part of your guidance on how to forgive yourself and others when the need to do so strikes.
Be open to the experience. Remember to give yourself grace throughout the process, and if you have to start over, then start over – as many times as necessary. This is your opportunity to let go of whatever you’re holding on to. It’s your chance to finally let it fall away.
Release the weight. Be light. Be self-love in action!
And don’t forget to share your progress with me in the comment section below. What did you observe while on the diet? How did you feel? I’d also love to hear about your go-to books on and practices for forgiveness.
You can also check out these books on the topic of self-love and forgiveness:
- Tapping the Power Within: A Path to Self-Empowerment for Women – Iyanla Vanzant
- Forgiveness: 21 Days to Forgive Everyone and Everything – Iyanla Vanzant
- You Can Heal Your Life – Louise Hay
- A Return to Love – Marianne Williamson
- Miracles Now – Gabrielle Bernstein
Specifically on Body Acceptance:
- Yoga and Body Image: 25 Personal Stories about Beauty, Bravery, and Loving Your Body – Melanie Klein and Anna Guest-Jelley
- Embrace: My Story from Body Loather to Body Lover – Taryn Brumfitt
Ayanna Jordan is founder and Women’s Leadership Coach & Trainer for The Phoenix Rising Collective; she is also the editor-in-chief for Phoenix Shine, The PRC’s blog and spirit-affirming online community. She has always had a passion for inspiring others through writing, coaching, and teaching. Her diverse career experiences have positively shaped her overall perspective on what it truly means to be a change agent: “I believe a change agent is someone who is in alignment with what she loves to do, and then connects, utilizes, and shares that love to make a difference and transform lives.” Learn more about Ayanna HERE.