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A 16 Guidelines view on


Forgiveness is the capacity to reclaim our peace of mind when something has happened to disturb us. As we go through life it is inevitable that we are going to hurt one another. In fact, as our world becomes more complex and interconnected, the opportunities for conflict increase. We have the choice whether to respond to these hurts and conflicts with anger and bitterness, or with forgiveness.

Forgiving is not the same as forgetting. It does not mean that we gloss over the harm that has taken place, or pretend that it never happened. What it does is to allow us to let go of the destructive attitudes towards the past that imprison us and the person who harmed us in a cycle of recrimination and guilt. When our desire for reconciliation and peace is stronger than our anger, disappointment or pain, then forgiveness offers the opportunity to make a new start.

Forgiveness can seem insurmountable, and has vast consequences, but in essence it is nothing more than a shift of mind. The motivation to forgive has to come from a genuine wish deep inside to relieve the pain and discomfort of ourselves and of others. It cannot be forced. Does everyone have the capacity to forgive? Can everything be forgiven? Is forgiveness something we can learn?


To let go of resentment and anger towards ourselves and others

A reflection on 


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The benefits of


  • release us from anger and resentment, which undermine our mental and physical health

  • deepen our understanding of other people and their points of view

  • help to avoid future conflict at all different levels of society

Did you know?

Research studies suggest that people who forgive are happier and healthier than those who hold resentment, due to factors such as: improved functioning in the cardiovascular and nervous systems; a reduction in stress; and being less susceptible to illness. A recent research project in Northern Ireland indicated that forgiveness can also make people feel more confident and compassionate.

‘People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered: forgive them anyway.’

Mother Theresa

‘Until we can forgive the person who harmed us, they will hold the keys to our happiness, they will be our jailor’

Desmond Tutu

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