Sometimes the hardest person to forgive is ourselves; many offenders struggle with this issue.
Over 4 weeks, we look at the definition of ‘Forgiveness’ and the reasons why we need to learn to forgive others and to forgive ourselves.
We explore the process and benefits of forgiving, and examine the things that often get in the way of forgiveness - the obstacles that have to be overcome in order to do this.
We also focus offenders’ attention on the effects of guilt and how best to say, “I’m sorry”, as well as encourage discussion on the times when it is right to ask for forgiveness and the times when it’s ok to say, “I forgive you?”
'Understanding forgiveness' course outcomes
Women prisoners understand what forgiveness is
We discuss forgiving others and forgiving ourselves. Many women carry a tremendous amount of guilt within themselves or anger against those they feel have wronged them in the past. To be able to forgive you need to know what it actually means to forgive someone. We stress that it doesn’t mean that you continue in a place that causes you harm or continued distress and talk about how to keep themselves safe should they need to.
They understand the benefits of forgiving
Not forgiving and holding on to anger, guilt, resentment and bitterness has been shown to cause both emotional and physical problems. We discuss these issues and help the women to understanding that forgiving is not just important to them now but to their ongoing health and well being. Letting go of anger and guilt can be a huge step towards finding emotional freedom and peace. It can also improve behaviour in a prison setting.
Female offenders understand what is involved in forgiving others and themselves
We go through practically what it means to forgive. How we do that in a healthy way and how it might look for them as an individual. This process gives them on-going tools they can use in everyday life and enables them to take these skills and use them going forward. We also look at forgiving in any close relationships they might have.
They understand that learning to listen to others is important as well
We look at forgiveness in relationships, understanding why healthy relationships need to work in the benefit of forgiveness, either saying sorry or forgiving others. We look at communication styles and what is helpful and not helpful when addressing issues they might have with people in their lives.
Prisoners have tools they can use to help them to forgive and let go going forward
We go through exercises around letting go of negative emotions against others and in themselves, be that anger, bitterness or guilt. By the end of the course the participants should understand what forgiveness is and how to forgive, say sorry and let most importantly let go.
Feedback from the 'UNDERSTANDING Forgiveness' Courses
“Really enjoyed this course, I can now move on and ask for forgiveness.”
“All resident’s should participate in this course, it’s the first step to one’s healing process.”
“I found it very helpful. It made me realise that I need to forgive in order to move on.”
“This course made me see that I cannot change what has happened, I can’t make someone forgive me but I need to forgive myself and live for the future, not for the past.”