What is National Forgiveness Day, and when is it?
National Forgiveness Day is a day dedicated to the promotion of forgiveness and self-forgiveness.
In 2019, it was held on the last Saturday of October. That was October the 26th.
In 2020, it will be October the 31st (Halloween!).
This year’s National Forgiveness Day may have now passed, but that is no reason not to embrace its message, Indeed, forgiveness is something we could all foster in our lives for, in the words of Nobel Prize winner Desmond Tutu, “Forgiveness says you are given another chance to make a new beginning.”
Forgiveness is the conscious and intentional act of releasing ill-feeling, bitterness, or worse, against a person (or persons) whom you feel has harmed you. Most importantly, forgiveness is not about condoning (e.g., overlooking and disregarding) someone’s negative behaviour, it is about accepting that the past has happened and that you wish to move on with your life. Indeed, for many, forgiveness is an act of taking back ownership and control over a toxic episode in their lives. “This is no longer going to ruin my life. I am going to forgive, so that I can turn the page, and move on.”
“Forgiveness is not always easy. At times, it feels more painful than the wound we suffered, to forgive the one that inflicted it. And yet, there is no peace without forgiveness.” Marianne Williamson
For many, forgiveness seems scary. It often requires them to take ownership of a relationship gone wrong, or a past event. Things that are difficult to forgive are often wrapped up in layers of history, complexity, and profound negativity, but – when undertaken – the act of telling someone you forgive them (and meaning it) jettisons a huge anchor that is preventing happiness, fulfilment, and new prospects.
Whilst it is quite clear what the forgiveness of others might look like, self-forgiveness is – for many – a much greater and often more debilitating issue.
Many people carry the baggage of poor past decisions, or relationships gone wrong, or circumstances that conspired to create awful outcomes, and they say, “It was all my fault. I am to blame.”
Because of the pervading guilt or shame associated with the past episode, people have an inability to say to themselves, “Enough! I understand that happened in the past, I forgive myself, and I want to move on.” It is just too overwhelming. They beat themselves up time and time again, for year upon year, as they fester on the issue at hand. Often a lack of self-forgiveness will lead to self-sabotaging when great new opportunities present themselves. “But I don’t deserve this…”
“Confront the dark parts of yourself, and work to banish them with illumination and forgiveness. Your willingness to wrestle with your demons will cause your angels to sing.” August Wilson
The most important thing is that it is never too late to foster and develop self-forgiveness. It might look hard (even impossible), but the secret is to break things down into achievable steps. Self-forgiveness is one of the most powerful and beautiful actions a person can take. By shedding the past, we can embrace the now and the future. By self-forgiving, we can find peace and even – yes, it’s true – happiness.
How to accomplish forgiveness and self-forgiveness.
It seems self-evident, but you need to make the decision to forgive and then do something about it. However, this is often easier said than done! There are many impediments to starting down the road of forgiveness including continuing anger, fear as to what your new future might look like, a feeling that you lack the courage necessary to begin, and more besides. There are many routes a person can take including courses and therapy, but it is often the first step that looks the biggest.
As such,The 15-Minute Rule for Forgiveness is the highly acclaimed book by Caroline Buchanan that creates a framework and structure for forgiveness and self-forgiveness. By breaking the process down into 15-minute periods of thought and action, that readers conduct in the privacy and security of their own homes, people will be able to forgive or self-forgive and move their lives into the happier, more fulfilling directions they deserve.
So, do not delay on National Forgiveness Day! Grasp the nettle! Develop your forgiveness skills and apply them to the areas that are making your life miserable. Your bravery and foresight will be rewarded 100-fold!