Updated: Mar 25, 2022
In study after study, that I research for my work as a mental health keynote speaker, forgiveness (along with gratitude) is the most powerful practice to improve our mental health. Despite its power, it is rare for people to have a regular forgiveness practice. We are depriving ourselves of a daily grace: unburdening from unnecessary suffering.
In the talks and trainings I give as a mental health keynote speaker I often share the story of Sisyphus. Like Sisyphus, we are all pushing a giant boulder up a mountain as we try to swallow the daily hose pipe of work, social and familial obligations. Unbeknownst, we also have a smaller boulder of shame around our neck for our perceived and inevitable shortcomings. This double burden grinds us down and saps us of our will to keep going.
Everywhere lie opportunities to spiral downward into a story of how we're not good enough, not worthy of love, stupid, lazy, essentially bad. This is the voice of the super ego, designed to keep us safe by keeping us in line. It is powerful and persuasive but we must summon the courage to say an emphatic no to it. Shame has no place at the table. We can have regret and still hold ourselves and others to account, without succumbing to its dull violence. As a mental health keynote speaker I often share that practicing the art of forgiving ourselves and others brings peace to our bodies, as we learn to tip toe more lightly on the quicksand of life.
This is the practice I share with my audiences as a mental health keynote speaker:
Each morning and night, identify three things, big or small, that you forgive yourself for. Then identify three people that you forgive, whether they wronged you in consequential or insignificant ways.
When you get into it, you will be surprised by how much you're holding on to, and how difficult it is to truly let go. Sometimes you won't be able to forgive yourself or another, but even the art of compassionate contemplation brings you closer to freedom.
In this moment, I forgive myself for dragging my heels on this post. I forgive myself for not listening to my body and tending to this cold. I forgive myself for not going home to Ireland to see my family this Christmas.
This is an A-Z guide to showcase some unfamiliar concepts in resilience, originally shared on my LinkedIn and inspired by day-to-day insights from my own experience with burnout and my work as a mental health keynote speaker.