What do you think the most common misconception about forgiving is?
I would say the most common misconception is the fear that once people forgive, they think they have to automatically reconcile, ignoring justice or the protection of the self. This needs to be clarified for many people to begin trusting in the process of forgiving.
For additional information, see What Is Forgiveness?
I see skepticism in people whenever I mention the healing power of forgiveness. How can I make forgiveness an acceptable part of conversations?
It may help if people see that forgiveness is a moral virtue, as are justice, patience, courage, and love. We exercise justice in families and groups all the time. You can ask, “Why, then, can’t we make room for this other moral virtue, forgiveness?” It would be helpful if you then are attuned to the others’ misconceptions about what, exactly, constitutes this moral virtue of forgiveness: Do they see forgiving as excusing or ignoring justice? Clearing up misconceptions usually makes forgiveness more acceptable.
For additional information, see Forgiveness Defined.
If you could give me one piece of advice as I ask someone to forgive me for what I have done, what would that be?
For one and only one piece of advice, I would say this: Once you have asked for forgiveness, please be patient with the person who was hurt. Do not expect instant forgiving from that person. Asking for forgiveness requires a humble approach and letting the other person choose when it is the best time to forgive.
For additional information, see Learning to Forgive Others.
I was in a heated argument with my spouse. We both needed to ask for forgiveness. I did, but she refuses to apologize. What do I do now?
Your spouse likely is still angry and so needs some time. If she can find it in her heart to forgive you, this may give her the insight that she, too, acted unjustly at that time. So, if she can forgive you (and your apology likely will help with that), then she may be open to apologizing and thus seeking your forgiveness.
For additional information, see Forgiveness for Couples.
Right now, I am alone and do not have a supportive person with whom I can do the forgiveness work. Would you recommend that I wait until I have found such a person before I start the forgiveness process?
This depends on how deeply serious is the injustice against you and your inner reactions. For example, on a 1-to-10 scale, how angry or sad are you (with a 10 being extreme pain)? If you are near a 10, then I would recommend a mental health professional who knows Forgiveness Therapy or who is willing to read one of my self-help books (such as Forgiveness Is a Choice) along with you. If your pain is in the 3 to 5 range, you might consider going ahead with that book yourself and let me, in my printed words, accompany you on the forgiveness journey.
For additional information, see How to Forgive.