Anger: Healing from Within
yourself is probably the greatest challenge that you will ever meet.
It is, in essence, the process of learning to love and accept yourself
no matter what." So writes Robin Casarjian in her book, Forgiveness:
A Bold Choice for a Peaceful Heart. In much the same way that anger
can rob us of daily peace, so too can unresolved guilt over our own
past actions. Casarjian spoke with Body & Soul
senior executive producer Gail Harris about her work with inmates at
the Suffolk County House of Corrections in Boston, and the important
role that self-forgiveness plays in their recovery.
of the emotional healing process is being honest with yourself. And
for many prisoners who have left pain and havoc in their wake, acknowledging
the truth about what they have done and the impact of what they have
done to other people, their families, their communities, themselves,
is an integral part of the emotional healing process.
have to get down and dirty about what you've done and how it's affected
other people and yourself -- not to beat yourself up, but to acknowledge
the truth. You have to begin to learn from the truth, and to see where
it is that you need to clean up old business, apologize, make amends,
make reparations, and do what you can so that you can heal the past
in the best way you can. So that you can move on in your life in a way
that you're not literally dragging the weight of those unresolved issues
with you into the future, and holding yourself back.
of the healing process that I find very powerful for many, many of the
people I work with, is writing a letter of apology. It's one way they
can begin to clean up the past, even if they can't send it to people.
And I challenge them to look at what it is they're really sorry for,
and imagine themselves in the shoes of the other people.
rather than saying, 'Well, I'm sorry I hit you,' really looking at 'I'm
sorry for…' and challenge themselves to do that maybe fifty times with
one person, so that they can widen the scope of what they've done, and
how it has affected people.
of self-forgiveness is being completely honest with yourself, and it's
also understanding that forgiving yourself never means condoning behavior
that was hurtful or abusive, or that lacked integrity. It doesn't meant
that you excuse your behavior. In fact, in order to forgive yourself,
you have to be completely accountable and responsible for your behavior,
or self-forgiveness isn't even a possibility… In truth, it's a process
that takes a lot of time and emotional investment, because of what's
required in terms of looking at the truth and making amends.
of the change I see is in the spirit that people bring to class. Sometimes
they come in uninvested, hostile, constricted. And as people participate
in the process of inner healing, I see people become more positive,
more respectful of themselves and of other people, more serious about
investing their energy in showing up as a person with dignity and integrity.
also see practical things going on, such as the number of disciplinary
reports in the prison diminishing. People begin reaching out to their
children in ways that they never have before. People begin to reach
out to one another in ways that they haven't... I can't even explain
the gratitude I feel in participating in this process of emotional recovery
you are interested in learning more about self-forgiveness, Casarjian's
book, Forgiveness: A Bold Choice for a Peaceful Heart, offers
visualization techniques, and concrete suggestions. In addition, the
book also includes an extensive reading list of additional material
that can open the way to personal insights and healing. Houses of
Healing, also by Robin Casarjian, details more fully her work with
incarcerated men and women.
Houses of Healing
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