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.

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.

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?

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.

I forgave a betraying friend and yet I still suffer from sadness over this.  What can I do to get rid of this?

Think of forgiveness as a process that can take time rather than a one-time decision.  If you have a little sadness, this is normal.  If, however, the sadness is deep and is interfering with your well-being, I suggest starting from the beginning and forgiving the friend again.  Each time you practice forgiveness, some of the sadness may lessen.  Again, please do not expect that forgiving will wipe away all feelings of sadness or even anger.  If such symptoms are manageable for you, then you are advancing well in forgiving.

For additional information, see The Four Phases of Forgiveness.