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?

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.

I have a roommate who is very angry with his mother.  It seems to me that he has built up a story on his mother that is exaggerated, in other words, not entirely true.  What do you suggest I do to help him forgive?

First, it would be best to have him think as carefully and as rationally as possible to sort out what is true and what is false regarding the mother’s actions.  He needs to take a courageous view of the truth of the mother’s actual injustice.   Once this occurs, he should be able to see the exact injustices in which the mother engaged.  Your roommate then can pick out one incident and forgive his mother for that one.  Then he can move to another incident.  Little by little, he may forgive so that his resentment lessens and he can consider approaching his mother with a deeper sense of her inherent worth.

For additional information, see What Is Forgiveness?

What is the global perspective?

This is one of three ways (personal, global, and cosmic perspectives) of thinking about the one whom you want to forgive.  For the global perspective, we ask you to see the common humanity that you share with the one who offended you.  You both need a little air to breathe; you both need good nutrition to stay healthy; if either of you are cut, then you bleed.  Both of you have unique DNA so that when either of you dies, there never will be another person just like you on this planet.  This makes each of you special, unique, and irreplaceable.

For additional information, see Why Forgive?

I want to reach out to a former good friend.  We have not talked in about a year.  I fear being humiliated.  What can I do to overcome this fear of humiliation?

You are showing courage to consider approaching the former good friend. I would suggest two things.  First, try to cultivate a sense of humility which may counter any harmful humiliation if the person rejects your overture of a renewed friendship.  In other words, cultivating humility gets you ready for a rejection.  Second, realize that the other person may not be as ready for a conversation as you are.  Even if you make the approach, please realize that the other may need time to adjust to this new overture.  A hesitancy on the other’s part today does not mean that this will continue indefinitely.  Humility and patience may help you in this case.

For additional information, see Learning to Forgive Others.

What might be more fruitful: to forgive someone else or to forgive myself first?

Because we tend to be harder on ourselves than we are on other people, I usually recommend first trying to forgive other people.  Become familiar with this process: seeing the inherent worth in the other, softening your heart toward the other, bearing the pain so you do not hurt the other.  Once you have a sense of these aspects of forgiveness, then apply the same themes to yourself: know you have inherent worth, not because of what you did but in spite of this.  Soften your heart toward yourself, again not because of what you did, but in spite of this.  Commit to not harming yourself.  One aspect of self-forgiveness that differs from forgiving others is this:  In your self-forgiving, examine whether you might have hurt other people by your actions (that require self-forgiveness).  Go to those whom you have offended and ask for forgiveness.

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