In your book, Forgiveness Is a Choice, you say that we should approach the process of forgiving with a sense of “willingness” rather than “willfulness.” I thought that forgiving is an active process and “willfulness” seems to capture that sense of being active more than “willingness” does. Would you please clarify for me?

When I use the term “willfulness” I mean this: We have to be careful not to force the process of forgiving. We, for example, cannot demand that we now feel compassion toward someone who treated us in a cruel way. We have to be open (willingness) to this gradual change of heart toward those who have hurt us. I do not mean to imply either that forgiving is passive or outside of our free will. Instead, I am suggesting that as we actively engage our free will, the process of forgiving still takes time. We are not in absolute control of the timing or the difficulty involved in forgiving another person.

For additional information, see Forgiveness is a Choice.

I want to start working on the theme of forgiving toward one of my parents. I have a therapist with whom I have been working for many years. She says that she has not studied Forgiveness Therapy, but is open to exploring forgiveness with me. What do you suggest under this circumstance?

I recommend that you, personally, first examine one of my self-help books (Forgiveness Is a Choice, The Forgiving Life, or 8 Keys to Forgiveness). See which you prefer. Then bring a copy of the chosen book to your therapist as you also retain a copy. Both of you can work systematically through the book that you choose. Given the therapist’s years of experience in the mental health profession, she should have no problem assisting you on your forgiveness journey.

For additional information, see Learning to Forgive Others.

In your book, Forgiveness Is a Choice, you talk about finding meaning in suffering. You talk about growing beyond yourself. What does this mean?

When people find meaning in suffering they often develop a deeper sense of what it means to be a person. You may begin to see, for example, that your suffering has shown you that all people suffer, all people are emotionally wounded to one degree or another. You begin to realize that your suffering is making you a more sensitive person to other people. In other words, your world expands as you see humanity more deeply.

For additional information, see Forgiveness Is a Choice.

I am newly married and my wife seems to have some suppressed anger from her childhood. Here is what I mean. At first, she talked about how idyllic her childhood was. Yet, over time, she has begun to develop nightmares about some of her interactions with her parents. These are not just nighttime fantasies because, as she looks back now, she is seeing some ignoring by the parents and putting-her-as-second best within her family of origin. What do you suggest?

In my book, The Forgiving Life, I recommend an exercise that I call the Forgiveness Landscape in which you begin to think about all of the people who have ever been unjust to you. You rate what the injustice is and how deeply that injustice hurt you. You then order these people from the least-severe hurt to the most-severe hurt. You start with the least-severe hurt and begin the forgiveness process with that person. Once you finish the forgiveness process with that one person, you move up to the next person, and then the next until you are experienced enough with forgiveness to start forgiving those who have been the most hurtful to you. This exercise may prove worthwhile for your wife. In other words, she does not start with the parents. As she forgives others, who are less hurtful to her, then her psychological defenses toward her parents, in which she may have been denying the degree of hurt, may change so that she sees the deeper hurt that she has. At that point, she may have the strength, the resolve, and the expertise to forgive the parents. At that point, the nightmares may end. I wish both of you the best on this forgiveness journey.

For additional information, see: How to Forgive.
To order Dr. Enright’s book, see: The Forgiving Life.

I am an adult who has hurt my mother a number of times when I was a teenager.  I now very much would like to have her forgive me, but I am not sure that she has thought much about forgiveness.  She seems to have accepted who I was as a teen—a very immature young person.  Yet, I would like to see her truly forgive me.  How can I approach her with the idea of forgiveness?

One approach is to take one of the self-help books, such as my The Forgiving Life book published by the American Psychological Association.  I recommend that you read it first.  If you think it is appropriate for your mother, then share it with her and point out some of the sections in the book that proved helpful to you.  Your mother might get interested and, if so, this would give her a chance to work through the forgiveness process.

Learn more at The Forgiving Life.
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New Book Strives to “Make Forgiveness Easy”

“Forgiveness is like a superpower that hardly anyone ever uses.”

Forgiveness, once you know how to do it, is transformational. It will bring you a freedom and a peace that will make your whole life feel easier.”

“This book. . . is your opportunity to meet forgiveness afresh and learn how to use it to change your life, and your world, for the better.”

Barbara J. Hunt enthralls her readers with precious nuggets like those in the introduction to her new book Forgiveness Made Easy: The Revolutionary Guide to Moving Beyond Your Past and Truly Letting Go. 

Yes, those snippets are all from just the introduction. Wait until you read the gems in Chapter Two – Forgiveness Is For You; or those in Chapter Six – Resentment; or the seven-step forgiveness process she lays out in Chapter Nine – The Forgiveness Made Easy Process; or. . . well, I think you get the idea.

Barbara J. Hunt

Forgiveness Made Easy is crammed not only with real-life forgiveness guidance but also with real-life accounts of how Hunt has helped real people learn how to forgive and create a new life for themselves. Those stories come from Hunt’s more than 25 years of experience as an international mentor, life coach and facilitator.

“I wrote this book because I see forgiveness as a fundamental life skill that is rarely taught. Or, if it is, not taught at the necessary depth to be effective, let alone transformational,” Hunt explains. “I offer a forgiveness practice that is simple, effective, and easy.”

Hunt closes out the book with an invitation, as well as a challenge: to join her in connecting with the grandest vision for forgiveness–achieving global peace, one heart at a time.

“Forgiveness is the laying down of arms and defences,” she writes. “When you put aside your personal weapons and surrender the shield over your heart, your forgiveness becomes an act of amnesty for humanity. Together, we can be the (r)evolution of peace.”


Purchase the book at: Amazon.com
Read the book’s Table of Contents and Introduction
Learn more at the Forgiveness Made Easy official website
Visit the Barbara J. Hunt website Evolutionary Coaching


This book review was written by Dennis Blang, Director, International Forgiveness Institute.

A True Story of Rape, Forgiveness and Reconciliation

If someone told you that a rape survivor was writing a book together with the man who raped her, you probably wouldn’t believe them.

But that’s exactly what Thordis Elva has done with her former high school boyfriend who raped her when she was barely 16-years-old after a school Christmas party in Elva’s hometown of Reykjavík, Iceland.

Her boyfriend was an 18-year-old exchange student from Australia, Tom Stranger, who said he felt entitled to have sex with Elva despite her being so drunk that people at the party had suggested they call an ambulance. Stranger instead took Elva to her own home where he spent two hours accosting her as she faded in and out of consciousness.

The crime was never reported.

Elva said that at the time she wasn’t clear as to what rape actually was and that Stranger had returned to Australia a few days later after ending the relationship.

“I hadn’t told anyone because I harbored shame and self blame for being drunk and not being in a situation where I was in control” Elva says. “That slowed down my ability to recover and fully face what had happened.”

The two went their separate ways after that sinister event until nine years later when Elva contacted  her rapist by email. Still struggling with the trauma of the rape, and “on the brink of a nervous breakdown,” Elva felt she needed to be eye-to-eye with her attacker in a bid to come to terms with what happened to her. And to her surprise, he replied with a confession and an offer of “whatever I can do.”

From that initial contact an extraordinary dialogue between rape victim and rapist started–beginning a raw, painful healing process documented in the book they co-authored South of Forgiveness: A True Story of Rape and Responsibility.

The book immediately became controversial not only because Stranger had actually raped Elva 16 years earlier and had only recently taken responsibility for it, but because Elva would eventually forgive herself and her attacker.

“It [forgiveness] is an extremely misunderstood concept,” according to Elva. “People somehow think you are giving the perpetrator something when you forgive, but in my view, it is the complete polar opposite.”

“Forgiving was for me so that I could let go of the self-blame and shame that I had wrongfully shouldered, that were corroding me and basically ruining my life.”

Creating additional controversy is the fact that the victim and the culprit are travelling the world together to discuss the very serious topic of rape.  Together, they gave a TED talk that summarized a 20-year long process, whereby Stranger eventually shouldered responsibility for his actions and the way those actions impacted their lives. It was viewed nearly 2 million times in the first week and more than 4.3 million times since being posted. You can watch their TED talk here. The TED talk was presented in San Francisco, CA for the TEDWomen 2016 conference.

Stranger, it should be noted, is not benefiting from his work with Elva.  “Any profits that I receive will be going towards a women’s’ charity in Reykjavík,” Stranger told an interviewer. “I realize how disrespectful and contemptuous it would be for me to benefit my bank balance or anything else.” 


South of Forgiveness is an  unprecedented  collaboration between a survivor and a perpetrator, each equally committed to exploring the darkest moment of their lives. It is a true story about being bent but not broken, of facing fear with courage, and of finding hope even in the most wounded of places. (Source: South of Forgiveness website)


Read more:
  Is forgiveness a virtue? – 
Malay Mail Online, Petaling Jaya, Malaysia
  Can I forgive the man who raped me? – The Observer/The Guardian, London, UK
  South of Forgiveness – Forgiving rape – IceNews, Reykjavik,
Iceland
  Rape victim and rapist reconcile, co-author a book and give talks – IceNews, Reykjavik, Iceland
  Could you forgive a rapist? A 17-year story of reconciliationAustralian Broadcasting Corporation, Australia
  Our story of rape and reconciliation  TED Talks (video: 19:07), New York, NY
  A Q&A with Thordis Elva and Tom Stranger
Ted Talks, New York, NY
  South of ForgivenessPromotional Website, Stockholm, Sweden


Please tell us what you think of this story, of the campaign being conducted by Elva and Stranger, and of Elva’s willingness and ability to forgive herself and her attacker. Could you forgive someone who raped you? Click on the “Leave a comment” button at the top of this story or use the “Leave a reply” box below to let us know what you think. Thank you. We appreciate your thoughts and your feedback.