There is probably not a human being on earth who has not felt angered, let down, betrayed, etc. by someone in your life. If we have been hurt, it is not always easy to forgive, yet holding a grudge can do just as much or more harm to ourselves as it does to the other person. Anger, as they say, is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to drop dead.
Forgiving ourselves for mistakes can be just as challenging. Many of my clients struggle to forgive themselves for past decisions or actions. Unfortunately, it can significantly impair our ability to move forward in life unless we can let go.
So I was definitely intrigued when I was sent The 15 Minute Rule for Forgiveness by UK author and counsellor, Caroline Buchanan.
The title is a bit misleading. I initially thought it was claiming forgiveness can happen in 15 minutes. Which like a 6-week 6 pack, seems like an unrealistic goal, but it really just refers to a series of 15 minute writing and mental exercises that she asserts can help you work towards forgiveness.
Though the book is only just over 100 pages, it is broken into 16 chapters, almost all containing a 15 minute task to complete related to the subject of that particular chapter. It is pretty easy to read and succinct and covers both the process of forgiving others and forgiving oneself.
There is some sound wisdom in this book, such as examining all the benefits of forgiveness as well as addressing your perceived drawbacks and fears around forgiveness in terms of what it will mean for you or others. Buchanan also looks into the role of guilt and shame in forgiveness and encourages readers to acknowledge and let go of these barriers. Buchanan includes lots of case studies to illustrate her points.
Buchanan spends a lot of time on self-awareness and self-acceptance which is definitely critical, not just in the realm of forgiveness, but of overall emotional health as well.
One thing that I don't love about the book is Buchanan's assertion that even if we are not religious, we need to believe in a higher power. I get the value in spirituality but this is inevitably going to turn some people off.
Overall, the book may be useful for some people but it's hard to know for sure. It is not based on research, but, I think, a theory and program Buchanan has developed herself. There is no data to back its efficacy. Nevertheless, forgiveness and how to achieve it is definitely an area that deserves more attention.
Disclosure: I was sent this book to review but all opinions on this blog are my own.