Project You Global Survey on Forgiveness

In late 2016 Project You conducted a Global Survey on Forgiveness. We received responses from 18 different nationalities and one respondent who identified herself as a “world citizen.” The gender split was almost even:  53% female / 47% male. 

While there were many differences in their responses to our 12-question survey, there was one thing the large majority (88%) agreed on — there is not enough forgiveness in the world today.

 

This is an astonishing response. Equally astonishing is that 39% of the respondents to our survey said members of their own families are not forgiving at all, while another 16% said that their family members were not forgiving very often.

 

With 55% of respondents indicating that there is little or no forgiveness within their own families, it is little wonder that people do not feel there is sufficient forgiveness in today’s world. No wonder Marianne Williamson says, “The practice of forgiveness is our most important contribution to the healing of the world.”

 

Here are some highlights of the survey results. To see the full results, please click on this link:  2016 Project You Global Survey on Forgiveness Detailed Results.

What makes forgiveness so difficult? 

Forgiveness requires the right mindset and attitude, an appropriate level of humility, and acknowledgment of the human values of the other person — combined with strong willpower and fortitude based on deep-seated self-understanding. 

Often our sense of pride, self-righteousness, and ego get in the way of forgiveness. In fact, these are often huge factors. In the Project You Global Survey on Forgiveness, 45% of respondents said their instinctive first reaction, if asked to forgive one person in their life right now, would be “no way.”

 

Another 6% express self-righteousness (I didn’t do anything wrong, I’m in the right here), while almost 5% indicated an angry response in line with “why should I be the one to forgive?”

 

Less than one-third (32%) responded to this question with the positive choice of “it’s really something I should do.”

 

Reluctance to take action is another hurdle preventing more forgiveness in the world. A full 35% chose the option of “do nothing” when asked what action they would take with regards to a person with whom they are currently in conflict.

 

When asked what is holding them back from forgiveness, 31% indicated pride while another 30% said anger.

 

Even harder, for many people, is forgiving ourselves for our actions, inaction, words, or thoughts. Over 65% of respondents in this forgiveness survey admitted that they have difficulties in forgiving themselves sometimes. In addition, another 14% responded that they “often” have difficulties in forgiving themselves.

 

Only one in five respondents (21%) in this global survey on forgiveness have no difficulties in forgiving themselves. Self-forgiveness is not a very common practice it seems.

 

Lastly, 37% of the respondents agreed that the pain of their hurt or offense seems so great and personal that they find it difficult to share this with others. This shows that there is a significant percentage of our fellow human beings privately dealing with pain and hurt that they are unable to share or forgive.

Forgiveness at the Country and Workplace Levels

Forgiveness on a national or workplace level is highly situational.

42% said forgiveness in the country in which they live for someone who has done something wrong “depends on the situation.” Only 18% felt such forgiveness happens “most of the time.”

 

However, 19% said forgiveness happens “not very often” and 3% felt forgiveness doesn’t happen at all in the countries in which they live.

 

Similar responses were received regarding forgiveness in the workplace. When asked “how forgiving is the workplace in the company or organization in which you are employed?” over one-third of the respondents (35%) said it depends on the situation. Another 12% said “sometimes” and a full 31% said “most of the time.” Only 3% believe their workplaces for forgiving “all the time.”