I had an argument with a friend. As I felt badly about this, I texted him and apologized. I never heard back from him. I am now angry with him about ignoring me. What else might I have done to make this better?
Please realize that you are not responsible for his behavior. You did a kind act in apologizing. You might wait some more because his forgiving is not necessarily on your timeline for this. He simply may need more time. Yet, how he responds ultimately is up to him. If he never responds, then I agree with you: You may have to forgive him for that. Also, you should go in peace knowing that you have done what you can to renew the friendship.
For additional information, see Why Forgive?
What if the other person insists that I did wrong, but I examine my conscience and see that no wrong was committed. Furthermore, I know I did not intend wrong toward that person. I see the action as reasonable. What do I do then?
Under this circumstance, you might want to say something like this, “I am sorry that my actions caused you such stress.” Notice that you are not saying that **you** caused the stress. Your **actions** have been stressful for that person. There is a large distinction between **you as a person** and your **actions.** So, you can feel sorry that the other is responding to your actions in such an intense way while at the same time not admitting to actual wrongdoing.
Learn more at Forgiving is not. . .
How can I know when I have done wrong so that I can apologize? Sometimes I am not sure if I have simply made a mistake or actually done wrong. Can you help me identify legitimate wrongs so I can start the seeking-forgiveness process?
Your conscience is one way for you to judge wrongdoing from a simple mistake. Your conscience leads you to a sense of feeling guilty when you do wrong compared to simply being imperfect in making a mistake. Also, think of your intent in what you did. Did you deliberately decide to go against your own standards or not? If you intended to do wrong, and then acted on that desire, then you engaged in wrongdoing.
Another area is the action itself. Some actions are wrong in and of themselves, such as disrespecting another person. So, conscience, intention, and action all can help you decide if you have done wrong. One area that is not as straightforward is the other’s reactions to you. Sometimes, for example, a person will be very angry with you and tell you that you did wrong. If, however, your conscience is not bothering you on those actions and if you truly did not intend to do wrong, then the other may be over-reacting.
For additional information, see What is Forgiveness?
In Chapter 5 of your book, Forgiveness Is a Choice, you talk about overcoming anger. I am wondering: Do I overcome the anger **before** I forgive, or is the anger diminished as I go through the process of forgiveness?
Your anger diminishes as you go through the process of forgiveness. If you think about it, how would you overcome the anger **before** forgiving? There are no known psychological approaches to reduce the anger and keep it away for a very long time other than forgiveness, in my opinion. As an example, relaxation training can reduce anger, but once you are no longer in the relaxed state, and you think about the injustice, the anger can return. Relaxation focuses on anger as a symptom and covers over that symptom in a temporary way. Forgiveness has you confront that anger and heal from it so that when you recall the unjust event and the person, the anger is diminished. This does not mean that all anger vanishes, but it does mean that the anger no longer is in control.
For additional information, see The Four Phases of Forgiveness.
I am a little confused about self forgiveness. You say that you do not forgive your own particular imperfections such as, for example, not being good in sports or being overweight or having a chronically sore knee with which you are frustrated. Why can’t we forgive the less-than-perfect coordination or the weight issue or the knee? It seems that it would help people move on in life.
I say that we do not forgive those issues because forgiveness is centered on **persons** and not on things. You offer your goodness to other persons in the hope that they change. When a person is frustrated by the issues of coordination or weight or a challenging knee, the person can forgive **the self** for the disappointments or even the self-loathing caused by these issues. In other words, you are not focused on the issues as you self-forgive, but instead on yourself as a person. You are welcoming yourself back into the human community because of the self-frustration or self-loathing.
For additional information, see Self-Forgiveness.