What is one central issue about forgiving oneself that you could pass along to me?

Forgiving yourself is a process, as is forgiving other people.  If I had to choose one issue for you as you begin, it would be this:  Start by forgiving others first so that you get to know the process of forgiveness.  As you offer gentleness and kindness to others in forgiving them, then when you forgive yourself, apply that same kind of gentleness and kindness to yourself.

Learn more at Self-Forgiveness.

Would you please explain what you mean by “wishing the person well” in the context of forgiving someone?

When you “wish the other well” you are not necessarily planning to go to the person and proclaim that you have forgiven (at least not yet).  You are not necessarily planning (at least for now) to reconcile with the person.  Instead, you are engaging in a cognitive exercise in which you hope that the one who hurt you does well in life, even if that person is doing well in life without a relationship with you.  For example, you want the person to have a good job.  You hope the person has good health.  The point is this:  Your thoughts about the person are not condemning ones but instead are positive thoughts for the person’s well-being.

Learn more at How to Forgive.

I kind of feel that if I am forgiven, then what I did will be long forgotten.  At this point, I am afraid of that because, if I am forgiven and all is forgotten, I might commit the offense again. Any suggestions?

It sounds to me that even if others forget what you did, you are not going to forget.  So, others’ views will not change yours.  May I suggest a balance here.  I know you do not want to forget what you did so that you do not engage in that behavior again.  At the same time, you might consider forgiving yourself if you are clinging to the memory of what you did and thus continue to condemn yourself for this.  If you forgive yourself, you still are not likely to forget, but instead to remember in new ways.  In other words, when you look back on the situation, you will not condemn yourself and feel excessively guilty as you recall what you did.  Your worry that you will completely forget will not materialize because, when you forgive yourself, you tend to remember in new ways rather than literally blotting out the transgression from memory.

Learn more at Self-Forgiveness and Learning to Forgive Others.

Is it even wise to try to build up trust again when the person already has betrayed that trust?

This will depend on whether or not the other who has hurt you shows what I call in my book, The Forgiving Life, the “three R’s.”  Does this person show remorse (or inner sorrow), repentance (coming to you with a sincere apology), and recompense (trying to make it right, within reason)?  If the three R’s are in place, then you can begin to try to re-establish trust, which can be earned one small step at a time.  See if the person can handle the particular kind of responsibility that did not materialize in the past.  If, in the small steps, the person shows a good will and sound behavior, then you might trust in more substantial ways.  If the person cannot handle finances, but you give the person now a small responsibility with finances and this is handled well, you might consider a little more financial responsibility, and then a little more.  Trust needs to be earned and is often built up slowly.

For additional information, see The Forgiving Life.

Have you ever examined the effectiveness for group forgiveness therapy?  In other words, an intervener convenes a group of people all of whom share a common kind of injustice against them?  If so, does forgiveness within a group intervention work?

Yes, we have done research on forgiveness as a group intervention and we do get good statistical results.  The very first journal article ever written on a forgiveness intervention was in a group setting with elderly women who had been hurt in family situations (Hebl & Enright, 1993).  They became emotionally healthier as a result of this group effort.  Here is the reference to that work:

Hebl, J. H., & Enright, R. D. (1993).  Forgiveness as a psychotherapeutic goal with elderly females. Psychotherapy, 30, 658-667.

Other group efforts, as examples but not an exhaustive list, have included parentally love-deprived college students, people in residential drug rehabilitation, and men who have cardiac compromise:

Al-Mabuk, R., Enright, R. D., & Cardis, P. (1995).  Forgiveness education with parentally love-deprived college students.  Journal of Moral Education, 24, 427-444.

Lin, W.F., Mack, D., Enright, R.D., Krahn, D., & Baskin, T. (2004).  Effects of forgiveness therapy on anger, mood, and vulnerability to substance use among inpatient substance-dependent clients. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 72(6), 1114-1121.

Waltman, M.A., Russell, D.C., Coyle, C.T., Enright, R.D., Holter, A.C., & Swoboda, C. (2009).  The effects of a forgiveness intervention on patients with coronary artery disease.  Psychology and Health, 24, 11-27.

We do tend to find that individual interventions (one intervener and one participant) produce stronger statistical results than group interventions on forgiveness.

I always say that if a person is steeped in negative thinking, even such thinking about other people, then he needs something to disturb him to get him out of his negative thought pattern.  If you agree with this, what is a good disturbing situation in your experience that can jolt a person out of negativism?

I think your expression “something to disturb him” is very interesting.  What you mean, I think, is something to get the person’s attention in a powerful way.  Yes, in my experience I have seen this “jolt” as you call it and it is this: an inner pain that becomes uncomfortable and motivates the person to do something about that pain.  Carrying the weight of continual negative thoughts can lead to an abiding sense of anger that turns to resentment.  The resentment then can turn on the one harboring it.  Resentment can turn to fatigue, restless sleep, a lack of exercise, and a general pessimism about people.  This kind of accumulated pain eventually can “jolt” a person into reality: I must do something about this pain.  It is here that some people come to realize that their negative symptoms point back to being treated unjustly, being angry, then overly angry, and then miserable.  It is at that point that many are willing to consider forgiveness as a fresh response to the original injustice……and to the inner pain that has developed as a result of the injustice.

For additional information, see Why Forgive?

About three years ago, I forgave my father for abandoning the family when I was just a child, 6-years-old.  Now that I am grown and the pressure is off of him to parent me, here he comes and asks my forgiveness.  To be honest with you, I think it is too late to hear his point of view.  What do you think?

You have forgiven your father for his abandoning your family and you.  I think you now have another situation in which you might consider forgiving your father for coming to you now, as you say, after the pressure is off for his parenting you.  Forgiveness, as you know, is your choice.  Given that you already have forgiven him for his past behavior, you now know the forgiveness pathway for forgiving him for his current issue.  Please keep in mind that he may have a lot of remorse and guilt.  He may not be asking for your forgiveness only because the pressure now is off.  If you see his possible remorse and even anguish, it may help you in your decision to forgive.

For additional information, see 8 Keys to Forgiveness.