You’ve probably heard all your life to forgive and forget, especially when someone has done you wrong, or offended you. Forgiving the person helps you to move on with your life as well as helping you to keep friends you otherwise might have lost. What very few people tell you, though, is that forgiving (let alone forgetting) isn’t always easy.
The painful memories tend to stick with you, even if you say you’ll forget. Wouldn’t it be just fabulous if we could completely and totally erase the bad memories of what people have done…but as wonderful as we human beings can be, that’s not always possible.
You may be willing to forgive, but find it hard to forget. I’ve often said to people who have wronged me that “I forgive you, but I’m not about to forget what you did.” If this is the case for you as well, don’t give up on the process – begin by concentrating on the forgiveness.
You may need additional time to pass before you can get to the point of completely forgetting the incident, or at least enough time needs to elapse before the issue becomes less important in your mind. Forgiving may be enough to help you move on with your life.
When you do truly forgive someone, ensure you don’t bring up the issue over and over again. If you do, then you haven’t truly forgiven the other person, and you haven’t let the issue go. If you can’t forgive, then be honest – with yourself and with them. Express your need for more time, acknowledge within yourself that you have work to do, and then DO IT. If you’re ready to do so, tell them you’re willing to explore it again sometime in the future.
If you already have, or are willing to start a Meditation practice, getting quiet can help you to deal with your feelings and may also help you let go of anger, hurt or other negative associations with the person and the experience in question.
Some people may not be worth the effort of forgiving and forgetting. If someone you know is not dependable and never was, they’re going to continue to let you down, no matter how many chances you give them. So why go through the trouble of forgiving them, let alone forgetting?
For your own emotional health, you may still choose to associate with them, but without extending your trust that they will do what they SAY they will do. If you find that this is emotionally draining for you, it may be best to sever all ties, and preserve your emotional well-being.
Above all, be honest with yourself, and with other people. Don’t fake forgiveness and then go around talking behind that person’s back. You are lowering yourself to their level, and hurting your integrity at the same time.
If you’re hurting because of their actions, and they’re asking for forgiveness – especially as part of their own healing and accountability process – be sincere about how you proceed and how you respond. You may hurt someone’s feelings by stating that you don’t forgive them, but you’ll do far more damage if you pretend that you have when you haven’t.
Although you may never forget, you CAN get to the point where it’s no longer worth your time and trouble to worry. It takes energy to focus on the past. Why drain that power when you can put it to greater use in more positive ways? You’ll feel better, everyone around you will feel better, and the person you are trying to forgive will also benefit, because your interactions with you will different.