Stories | Themes | Developing empathy

Empathy means standing in someone else’s shoes no matter how uncomfortable those shoes may be. It means broadening your perspective so that you see things from another’s point of view. Research has even shown that people who forgive have a broader, more flexible perspective on human behaviour than those who do not.

Professor Simon Baron-Cohen, author of Zero Degrees of Empathy, has described empathy as "a skill like any human skill", and lack of empathy "a disability" which isn’t permanent and which, if you get a chance to practise, can "get better".

Gayle Kirschenbaum

"There was a light bulb moment when I played a psychological board game. The facilitator asked me to stand up and imagine my mother as a little girl."

John Carter

"Then a probation officer told me about restorative justice – a process that could help me understand empathy."

Jo Berry and Patrick Magee

“I’ve realised that no matter which side of the conflict you’re on, had we all lived each others lives, we could all have done what the other did.”


Every day when I say my prayers, I pray to God to forgive those men for what they did to me.

TJ Leyden

"People ask if I hate these people who would like to see me dead, but I say, ‘No, I feel empathy and compassion for them'...I find I’m able to carry their hate."

Phyllis Rodriguez

"Since then I’ve learnt that one way to heal is to bridge the gap between ourselves and the ‘other’."

Bassam Aramin

"I was crying about the pain of my oppressors."

Julie Chimes

"This expansive feeling of understanding and compassion even allowed me to take a call from my assailant’s sister, who wanted me to know her sister was desperately sorry and asked my forgiveness."

Zak Ebrahim

“Having been bullied as a kid created an immediate sense of empathy in me  toward the suffering of others.”

Violeta and Petrica Danut Chereches

"How could I judge the difficulties of her life at that time?"

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