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EXCLUSIVE: Read an Excerpt of Iyanla Vanzant's New Book 'Forgiveness'

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Iyanla Vanzant
Photo Credit: George Burns/ Harpo Studios

The following is an excerpt from Iyanla Vanzant's new book, FORGIVENESS: 21 Days to Forgive Everyone for Everything.

It’s funny, just like me, much of America is addicted to TV shows such as Law & Order, CSI, or NCIS. These crime-and-punishment dramas support our beliefs that everyone and everything must be judged. For every crime there must be a punishment. On any given day, we are all judge and jury in the cases we build or hold on to in our minds. We judge ourselves and others when we
believe someone is guilty until proven innocent. In the realm of consciousness, a judgment is a classification. It is a thought that classifies people and things as right or wrong, good or bad, fair or unfair when measured against what we believe. At the core of all judgments there is the belief that things are not as they should be, as we want them to be, or as we need them to be. Our judgments more often than not give rise to a toxic or negative feeling. Forgiveness is the only cure for long-held judgments. Forgiveness of our judgments opens space and energy in our minds and hearts that has been held blocked off by anger, bitterness, and resentment. Forgiveness is the only cure for long-held judgments.

What is often challenging for the human mind to accept is that regardless of how hard, challenging, frightening, or difficult an experience may seem, everything is just as it needs to be in order for us to heal, grow, and learn. That’s just the way the universe works. Granted, most humans have a very difficult time accepting the way the universe works. This is what it means to be human. This is why we are faced with challenges and difficulties. This is how we ultimately learn to trust the process of life and our capacity to move through the hard times. This is how we grow in faith and learn to trust God. The moment we determine what is, should not be, we are denying the presence of love. God is love. Love is always present, surrounding us; guiding, growing, and teaching us. Even in the midst of total chaos, pain, and dysfunction, love is calling us to a higher experience and expression. Forgiveness inevitably leads to acceptance. It is a demonstration of your willingness to move on. Acceptance does not mean you agree with, condone, appreciate, or even like what has happened. Acceptance means that you know, regardless of what happened, that there is something bigger than you at work. It also means you know that you are okay and that you will continue to be okay. Even if you don’t know it yet, it means you are willing to get to that space: forgiveness restores our faith, rebuilds our trust, and opens our hearts to the presence and power of love.

I Forgive Myself for Judging Men
Today is about forgiving men. If you are a man, you may need to forgive your father, brother, or another male figure who has caused hurt, harm, or disappointment in your life. If you are a woman, you may need to forgive those whom you have loved or those who refused to love you; those who have hurt you, shamed you, and abandoned you; or those who left you scarred or wounded. In our world, masculine energy represents authority, power, and strength. When we have distorted and painful images of men and masculinity, more often than not we find ourselves in dysfunctional relationships with all forms of power and authority. This means that when we need it most, our strength wanes. Open yourself to consider the glorious possibilities that lie just beyond how you have seen, held, and related to the masculine energy of the Creator that is embodied in all men. Forgive the men you have loved or those who refused to love you.

A Prayer of Forgiveness
Dear God:
Today I ask for and open myself to receiving healing and restoration of my mind, my heart, and all of my relationships with men. I confess that I have not always been kind or loving toward men. I confess that I have held judgments about men and against men. I confess that I have allowed unkind, unloving, judgmental thoughts and beliefs to infect my relationships with men. For this, I ask for and accept Your forgiveness, and I forgive myself.

Today, I ask that my heart and mind be opened so that I will accept all men as Your sons and my brothers. I ask that You create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit within me so that my divine relationship with all men will be restored. I ask for the will to forgive and move forward in love.

I lay down my weapons.
I open my heart.
I forgive.
I let it be!
And so it is!

I Forgive Myself for Judging Women
Today’s practice is about clearing and releasing the hurts, wounds, and judgments you may hold about or against women. Our experience and expectations of women begins with our mothers. Chances are if we have any judgments about our mothers, they will extend to other women. If you are a woman, it is also important to consider the judgments that you hold about yourself. More often than not, these can and will be projected onto other women.In our everyday experience we are sure to encounter people, both men and women, who simply behave badly. In order to heal from these encounters, it’s important that we carefully examine our own projections and judgments. More often than not, the things we detest and judge in others are a reflection of the things we cannot accept about ourselves. The impact of a lack of self acceptance is intensified in the relationships between and among women. The things we detest and judge in others are a reflection of the things we cannot accept about ourselves.

A Prayer of Forgiveness
Dear God:
Teach me to accept myself so that I will accept all women.
Teach me to appreciate myself so that I will appreciate all women.
Teach me to honor myself so that I will honor all women.
Teach me to respect myself so that I will respect all women.
Teach me to trust myself so that I will trust all women.
Teach me to love myself so that I will love all women.
Teach me to forgive myself so that I will forgive all women.
I open my heart.
I forgive.
I let it be!
And so it is!

Join Iyanla and her Forgiveness Friends for an exclusive Online Live Event on Wednesday, December 11, 2013 at 7 p.m. EST / 4 p.m. PST.  When you purchase a copy of FORGIVENESS from your favorite bookseller, you will receive access to this 90-minute Live Event, absolutely free.

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