Forgiving is not Forgetting

My best friend made a comment the other day that prompted me to write this. She said she’s forgiven her sisters for things that happened, but she hasn’t forgotten.  She’s so right. I forgave my dad for things that he did but I haven’t forgotten them. How can you? Something caused you to be upset in the first place so it’s hard to just erase that from your memory.  Besides, if a mechanism existed so that bad memories could be erased, then so could the good ones. Don’t throw out the bad with the good.

While the memories can’t be erased, the pain and hurt can be lessened or removed with forgiveness. Forgiving isn’t about forgetting what happened. It’s about letting go of the hurt and pain around a situation. It’s about taking the sting out so that you can move on.

It’s also about forgiving yourself for carrying the hurt, the pain etc. and then allowing yourself to let go of that energy so it doesn’t control you and cause you to carry shame, regret or guilt. The more you hold onto those emotions, the more it can affect your well-being and your subsequent decisions and reactions towards the person who caused the pain in the first place.

When we get stuck in these bad memories we don’t heal emotionally, mentally and even physically. Forgiveness helps that healing process so that we no longer hold onto these painful memories on any level.

Repression Never Works

Nor is it good to repress memories either. Bad memories come up, deal with them. Don’t push them down. It may be easier to push them down but it always gets ya in the end. One way or the other. They seem to have a way of catching up to you eventually.

Some people are good at “forgetting” or really compartmentalizing. They can put bad memories in a box on the shelf in their minds. That’s suppressing or not dealing with the situation. It’s about pretending it didn’t happen so that you don’t have to deal with it. I know someone like that. When she doesn’t want to deal with a painful situation, she’s really good at putting it in a box. She’s not dealing with it. She’s just putting it away, never to be seen again.

Don’t fool yourself into thinking if you’ve put some hurtful situation into a box that you’ve dealt with it or forgiven the offending party. You haven’t. All you’ve done is stuff it away like an old sweater at the back of your closet. Either repair it and wear it [face it and deal with it] or donate it [keep pretending that you’re dealing with it].

Forgive, but Never Forget

There is a saying, “Forgive, but never forget.” Meaning, you can forgive so that you can heal, but don’t forget because history does not need to repeat itself. Think some awful world events. We don’t need to repeat them. While we don’t need to hold onto the hurt associated with those wrongdoings, don’t forget them either so as to safeguard the future.

While we don’t want awful things in history to be repeated, we also don’t want hurtful occurrences in our own life to repeat themselves. We need to learn from them. Forgiveness is a powerful tool for karmic healing to free your soul. It involves releasing past resentments and freeing yourself from the chains of old hurts, wrongdoings, slights etc.

Learn From It

It’s like people who grew up in dysfunctional homes. They have two choices. They can repeat the mistakes their parents made or they can choose to do the opposite. If they vow to do the opposite, then they don’t want to forget how their parents acted to keep themselves in check. They may have forgiven their parents, but again, they don’t want to forget so they can learn from it.

By forgiving and not forgetting, we leave space to learn from what happened. What was our part in it? Maybe we could’ve been more aware to prevent the incident from happening. Maybe we could’ve set better boundaries.

Or maybe nothing could have been done on our part. In which case, the memories serve to remind us not to let it repeat. We can’t control others but we can control ourselves. Our reactions, our boundaries, our thoughts. Don’t put yourself in the same situation, or don’t get involved with a certain person or type of person etc.

Remember to Forgive Yourself Too

If hurtful memories keep popping up in your consciousness, then maybe it’s time to deal with them once and for all. Let them go. If the situation involves another person, now is the time to forgive them. Or maybe it’s yourself that you need to forgive.

Even if it’s true that you messed up, forgive yourself. We all make mistakes. Most of us are hard enough on ourselves, don’t add to it by not forgiving yourself. Remorse is a good indicator to keep us in check, but not when it builds up to toxic levels. A softer way to deal with it is to see our part in the situation, learn from it so we don’t repeat it, then give ourselves one of the best gifts that we can give: forgive yourself!

If the other person hasn’t forgiven you after you’ve tried to make it right, then that’s on them. You can’t force them to forgive you. You can’t force them to move on. Some people have a very hard time moving on and letting go. For them to hold grudges can feel very satisfying. But that’s a story for another day. There’s nothing that you can do about that. All you can do is remember your part so that you don’t repeat it.

The goal of forgiving is to let go of the hurt associated with the situation or person. Not to dwell on it. Don’t let it ruin your life or hold you back. It happened, you forgave the person, now it’s time to move along. Granted, the forgiveness process can take time. But once it’s done, it should be done.

When you’ve forgiven someone, if the associated bad memories come back, the sting should be gone. Those memories should no longer hold the charge of emotions. Now you can neutrally look at them and say, “Yeah, I wish that didn’t happen, but it did. I’m over it now so let’s just put those memories back on the shelf.” And do just that. It’s ok to put the memories on the shelf for future review, but not until you’ve let the sting go.

Forgive, not forget, but move forward. That’s your new mantra.

Are you still harboring secret hurts and resentments? Have you really let go? Your best source of answers is YOURSELF, your inner knowing, your intuition.

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