Thursday, March 6, 2014

Review: "Forgiveness" by Iyanla Vanzant

First, right off the bat I want to say something that the description on the back of the book left out.  Forgiveness relies heavily on a "tapping" theory called Pro EFT tapping, which is described by the author as "needless acupuncture" (24).  This hilarious spelling ends up calling the program useless instead of saying that it is "needleless," as I am assuming was intended.  Oops.  Anyway, I had very little interest in that aspect of the book and, to be honest, I found it a little hokey.  From the author's descriptions I could not garner what exactly Pro EFT tapping was, nor what evidence showed that it was beneficial. I was frustrated that instead of explaining, the author directed readers to a website for information on the theory that formed the basis of her book.  For the rest of the review, I will set that aside, as that may not be a scare factor to all readers as it was to me.

The book begins with an introduction to forgiveness, emotional triggers, judgements, and the tapping process.  After that, the book is broken into a 21 day process.   Each day has a prayer introducing the daily topic (taken from A Course in Miracles Workbook), a forgiveness story, a reminder of the forgiveness process, another prayer, journal work, and then the tapping process.  It also comes with a CD, which has the introduction, a few meditations, and the daily prayer.

The journal work is structured around 12 statements, four each in three different categories: I forgive my mind for thinking, I forgive myself for judging, and I forgive myself for believing.  The sections I found most helpful had different starting sentences for each category, such as "I forgive my mind for thinking my job is" and "I forgive my mind for thinking my career is not" (208).  Most difficult for me were the sections that listed "I forgive myself for judging" four times, where the reader has to come up with four separate statements for the category (209).  Once I had thought of one "I forgive myself for judging" statement, I got blocked into only thinking that and was unable to complete the other three.

Around day 10 in the material, I was looking in the mirror and harboring some negative thoughts about a relationship in my life,  Without realizing what I was doing, I stopped myself and thought, "I forgive myself for believing that I'm not worth someone else's time, or that I don't deserve the love I am given."  Even with that proof that the book affected my thinking in a positive way, I still had some misgivings.

Forgiveness seems to waiver back and forth about whether it is religiously based or not.  As I mentioned, there were many prayers, but there were never any Bible verses, which I expected out of a book on forgiveness.  Day 6 of the process is titled "Forgiving God," yet in the forgiveness story, Vanzant says, "For those who recognize and accept that there is a Higher Mind, a Divine Essence, a Spiritual Presence to life, we look to that energy to support, assist, and provide us with the things we need, want, and desire" (127).  I expect a little more consistency on foundational parts of the book, such as religion.  It's weird to have prayers, talk about forgiving God, but then dance around whether or not God exists.  The book needed to choose a Christian audience, or a non-Christian audience instead of alienating both by going back and forth.

There were some structural and grammatical snafus that got in the way of my enjoyment of the book.  Processes were mentioned and then not explained until much later in the book, which left me thinking I had missed something that I was supposed to understand already.  I had to reread sentences such as "This helps to unlock any remain resistance" only to find out that I was tripping over the sentence because of a typo, rather than my own misreading (34).  Due to the lengthy forgiveness process (and tapping) there was a lot of repetition of steps or paragraphs where the exact wording was copied page to page.

My favorite part of the book was the daily forgiveness story.  It is similar to a condensed version of a Chicken Soup For the Soul- type story that talked about someone else's journey through forgiveness on the daily topic.  My only complaint was at some points even these forgiveness stories got very vague and zoomed out to big picture, cliché, statements.  I loved the personal aspect that only appears in those stories, so to switch to paragraphs like "A mother is her children's first teacher" or  "Children need a mother's love, acceptance, and nurturing, particularly when they least deserve it" was a rough transition for me as a reader (93, 95).

I would recommend this book only to someone who was interested in needleless acupuncture, Pro EFT tapping. There is definitely some worthy material other than that in the book, but there is not enough to make it worthwhile if you're not interested in tapping.

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from Hay House Publishing for this review.  The opinion in this review is unbiased and reflects my honest judgment of the product.


  1. That is an unfortunate typo of needless! Were you able to look into any further details outside of the book on the theories behind tapping? I believe in some alternative medicine, but this one seems a little far fetched...

    1. I actually didn't look into it any further...It basically just told you to tap different parts of your body while saying statements provided in the book. It definitely wasn't for me.

  2. I read this book and thought 'needless' was a bit of an unfortunate typo as well. :) Although, I think I liked the book a lot more than you did.

    As far as tapping goes, it is the same principle as acupuncture or, more precisely, acupressure.

    1. Acupressure...that makes a lot of sense. Wonder why they didn't introduce that terminology.

      It's great to hear from someone else who read it! :) Thanks for checking out my review.