Forgiveness: A Bridge to Civility (by Kathrynn Thompson)

I was going through some old papers recently and found an article written by an old friend of mine, Jacquelyn Madison APRN, a retired Mental Health CNS from the James. She wrote an article on Improving Health with Forgiveness for JCNN (James Cancer Nursing News) in June 2004. This article stimulated my thinking about forgiveness and civility.

Jackie Madison stated, ”Forgiveness is the bridge from the negative effects of resentment and hurt feelings to peace and acceptance.”.  It is certainly evidence based that negative feelings like stress, anger, intolerance and resentment influence us mind, body and soul.  We also know that these feelings can lead to incivility and bullying. So how do we walk across the bridge to forgiveness?  How do we get  to civility and nonjudgement when we are already hurting and in a bad place? Here are some tips paraphrased from Dr. Gerald Jampolsky’s, “ Stepping Stones to Forgiveness”.

  • Remember that forgiveness is a strength and not a weakness. One can choose to be happy rather than right.
  • You can choose not to be a victim. If you hold onto thoughts of grievances you are choosing suffering. Remember self-pity has no value.
  • When you are angry with someone and judging them it hurts you. If you stop trying to control others and focus on yourself, it leads to peace
  • Remember that the happiest people in the world choose not to judge.
  • Embrace the present and future with hope.
  • Believe that you have power over your thoughts. You can choose the thoughts you put into your head. Our power to choose our thoughts is perhaps one of the greatest gift we have been given.

We can choose not to let outside circumstances and other people decide whether we will be resentful and unforgiving rather than happy, civil and nonjudgmental.