You’ve heard the phrase a thousand times, spoken by a thousand well-meaning people: “Forgive and forget! Forget and Forgive!” It’s said so often and so carelessly that most people don’t even really think about what it actually means. Well, we’re here to tell you that it’s a lot more complicated than most well-wishers realize, and we believe forgiving and forgetting isn’t the best thing to do at all.
Should you Forgive and Forget?
What are we really saying when we say, “forgive and forget?” Forgiveness is what we’re all about on this site and in the program, so we know it’s a powerful tool to help you make your life better when you’ve been wronged.
But forgetting? Just pretending like it never happened? Is that ok? Some people might think that’s the best way to approach a traumatic experience, but we know from experience and scientific research that not dealing with your emotions—and not forgiving—will hurt you emotionally and physically.
Work Through Your Experience
When people who don’t understand forgiveness tell you to “forgive and forget,” but you can’t, you might feel like a failure. You’re not. You need to work through your experience, address the affect it had on you and reach a place where you can forgive. And even when you have forgiven, your experience will still be a part of you.
Here’s why that can be ok.
One of the most important things you can take from any past experience, good or bad, is knowledge. And by learning from painful situations, you’ll make sure you don’t put yourself there again in the future.
Also, you’re not the only one affected by your experiences. Friends, family, co-workers…anyone who is in your life will benefit from you keeping in mind the paths that have led you to where you are today.
And most importantly, remember that forgiveness is for YOU. It’s not for the offender, and you’re under no obligation to sweep the memories of what happened under the rug.