Carolyn CJ Jones had a bumpy ride to get to where she is today, but she’s somehow managed to find grace and gratitude for every step along the way. Though it was difficult to take the first step, her journey has now spanned decades and spawned dedication, determination and the book The Art of Forgiveness: A Promise of Peace.
Along the way, our author found her passion. She realized that her past was marked with trauma and resentment, much of which was still burdening her in the present. In discovering and doing the hard work of forgiving those who had caused her pain, she learned a great deal and wanted to teach that transformation to others. Books were born. Here, we’ve asked Carolyn to go deeper into her practices and practical advice.
Q: You teach how to find peace and freedom from resentment through the practice of forgiveness. Did you have to do any self-forgiving to get to the point of helping others?
A: Actually, it was several years after forgiving others that I learned to forgive myself. First, I cleared up my 30-year resentment over my childhood when I stumbled on forgiveness for my parents. When I forgave, I felt immediate and immense peace and freedom! It is the desire to pay it forward with what I learned on my journey to forgiveness that got me started helping others.
Q: You work as a college forgiveness instructor, multi-award-winning author, motivational speaker, life coach, and are a retired registered nurse. How did you go from nursing to this expanded vocation?
A: How did I go from being a registered nurse for 27 years to becoming a forgiveness instructor? It was in response to me seeking sobriety after a 30-year history of drinking. I quit nursing as I didn’t think I could stay sober and still work as a nurse. At first I was a fine art photographer for four years, then I published my book, Opening the Gates of the Heart. After two years of that, I realized I had a message of forgiveness for the world and I resolved to pay forward what I learned about forgiving and how to achieve it. That’s when I began life in 2012 as a forgiveness speaker, author and coach. I became an instructor at the College of Marin Continuing Ed in 2019.
Q: Many of us struggle with holding grudges, sometimes for wrongs (perceived or actual) that are actually quite minor in the bigger picture. How do you approach forgiving others for grievous wrongs, though? For example, how do you forgive those who have physically, sexually or emotionally abused you or someone you love?
A: There are two things I do, and recommend others do, to forgive grievous wrongs. First, I try to see the wounds that were activated when the offender committed the wrong. Then I hold them in compassion for those wounds. I know they have wounds because “hurt people hurt people, usually in the same ways they were hurt originally.” So I offer compassion and over time, this evolves into forgiveness. The second thing I do is find one thing about the experience for which I am grateful. For myself, for example, I dealt with emotional and physical trauma as a child. I have forgiven all of that and am grateful it all happened because it created my empathy and understanding of what others may be going through. The experiences of abuse made me who I am today. I am grateful for that.
Q: Did you find that writing the book was itself a healing process? Or was it more a process of relaying the healing you had already found?
A: The writing of my book was an accounting of the healing I had already done. That’s especially true for my description of the YIPPEE Method of healing (Yearn, Investigate, Process, Practice, Evolve, Empower), which I created to guide others from angst and resentment to forgiveness, and finally, to peace and freedom.
Q: What do you hope readers take away from the book as they practice your art?
A: My hope is that people take away hope for their lives, hope that they can truly find peace from their resentment. HOPE is an acronym with two meanings: Hold On, Pain Ends, and Hold On, Possibilities Emerge. The opportunities that show up for us move us beyond resentment to forgiveness and to peace. I encourage people to heed the opportunities that show up because those are divinely offered.
Q: Do you have another project on the horizon?
A: My current project is the formation of a virtual book club and support group. We review my Opening the Gates of the Heart book first, then my forgiveness book. What is read sparks the discussion of healing and support. Any readers who are interested need to sign up at http://carolyncjjones.com/book-club. It meets every Friday at 3:00 pm PST. It is a club with a $27 monthly fee.
I have many thoughts about writing my memoir. It would explore and detail my upbringing, which is not addressed in The Art of Forgiveness. It is in the thought stage …
Learn more about CJ Jones on her BookTrib author profile page.