Stories | Themes

Analysis of the many stories The Forgiveness Project has collected over the years shows that while forgiveness is not a linear process, and seldom a one-off event, nevertheless certain qualities and values feature in most of the stories.

The following themes provide a framework to these forgiveness stories, adding a dimension to the narrative of hate, hurt, and healing.

Feeling pain and anger

Forgiveness does not
mean no longer feeling
pain or anger.

Being curious

Curiosity is a vital ingredient of
forgiveness because curiosity sets
light to the imagination,
to wonder why?

Forgiving yourself

“The more I can find compassion
and forgiveness for myself the less
likely I am to harm others.”

Developing empathy

The ability to be "one" with the
feelings of another. Reframing
the story - not "why me?" 
but "why them?"

Seeking revenge

Forgiveness is the principled
decision to give up
your justified right
for revenge.

Transforming hate

"When you humanize your
adversary it’s harder to
hold on to hate,
it’s harder to kill."

Restorative justice

Victim-offender dialogues address social injuries by giving victims a better chance of healing and offenders the opportunity to apologise and take responsibility.

Making meaning

Meaning making is defined as
"making sense out of" and
"finding significance and
benefit in" what happened.

Watch our conversations on forgiveness

Can forgiveness repair communities?

Can radical compassion win the war against violent extremism?

Do you need God to forgive?

Stories | Themes | Questions | Countries