It isn’t that easy to see the difference between forgiving and forgetting because you receive so much conflicting information about it that, in the end, it becomes a huge mess.
In this post I want to clarify these two concepts.
I wouldn’t want you to remain stuck in what happened to you or your feelings, simply because you’re mixing up both terms.
Think of a situation that happened to you in the past, with one or several people, and for which you are still resentful.
Example related to another person
You may have had a relationship with a partner, boss or friend, in which they said or did something to you that hurt you.
Try to visualize the situation and the person for a moment, and allow any feelings to arise.
The emotions that may arise are, for example:
- Sadness: because they hurt you.
- Rage against them: because they had no reason to treat you as they did.
- Rage against yourself: for not knowing how to manage the situation in a different way.
- Fear: of going though a similar situation with another person.
- Pain: because of how bad it was.
- Resentment: for remembering what happened more than you should.
- Revenge: for wishing for something similar to happen to that person, or for wanting to pay them back.
Did any of these feelings arise when you thought about the situation?
Well, first of all, DON’T judge yourself.
Remember: ALL your feelings are fine.
Soon, we’ll see what you can do to get them to stop tormenting you.
Notice that even though time has passed and you’re no longer near the person who hurt you, or even if you are, the painful situation has already passed, and yet it’s curious that if you visualize it NOW, you’ll experience the same feelings that you did at the time.
You can’t let them go.
Sadness, rage, pain, fear…
And even though you know it shouldn¡t affect you that much, you can’t manage them in any other way.
Well, here I am to help you.
And to do so, you need to understand…
The difference between forgiving and forgetting
To me, forgiving implies:
- Accepting that what happened, even though it hurt, can’t be changed
- Validating your feelings, but
- Choosing to free yourself from those negatives feelings that keep you trapped
If you don’t like the word forgive, you can use the word “understand”.
- The person who hurt you couldn’t or didn’t know how to do it in a different way
- You couldn’t or didn’t know how to manage the situation in a different way
- You can’t change people
- You can’t change the past
- But you can change the way in which you perceive what happened, or give it a different meaning
- You can do something with what you feel to stop feeling bad
Do you follow me?
Do you want to learn to free yourself from those emotions that keep you stuck in feelings that DON’T bring you anything positive?
Well, if you do, keep reading, because there’s another important thing that you need to be clear about.
Forgiving ISN’T forgetting
At least NOT for me.
From my point of view, some things are unforgivable.
And some you need to remember.
For example, you need to remember:
- Who you can trust and who you can’t.
- What triggered the event.
- What you need to avoid.
- How you can protect yourself.
- Who’s worth investing your energy on and who isn’t.
Forgiveness has to do with you, that is, it’s an action directed towards yourself.
To forgive is to free yourself from a burden that weighs down on you and prevents you from feeling lighter.
But you don’t need to forget what happened or the person who hurt you.
In fact, I hope you bear it in mind for a future.
Since, probably, you’ll need to use a different strategy to avoid that painful situation from repeating itself.
Can you see the difference between forgiving and forgetting?
Here’s another example.
Example related to yourself
Maybe you didn’t achieve something that was important to you.
- You didn’t try hard enough
- You didn’t give it the importance it deserved
- You didn’t see it as vital at the time
- You were having a bad time
And of course, due to that, now you can’t be where you wanted to be or do what you wanted to do.
Here the following feelings may emerge:
- Sadness and sorrow
But in this case, the one who caused those feelings was you.
So, if you just criticize and blame yourself for “how badly you did” and ” the consequences you now have to endure”, you’ll stay stuck in your suffering and won’t be able to move on.
Because guilt is the way in which those negative feelings stay with you.
Forgiveness (or understanding)
If you’re not used to forgiving or understanding, it may take you some time to do something different.
But here I am, to guide you along the way.
Our first agreement has to be this:
Are you willing to let go of those negative feelings that keep you trapped?
Whether they were caused by another person or yourself. It doesn’t matter.
Are you willing to do whatever it takes to free yourself from the pain?
Well, then I’ll ask you
1. Write a letter addressed to the person you need to forgive
And notice that, the one who needs this is YOU.
Write it by hand.
Release all your anger, sadness, and pain in that letter and write everything that comes up.
If you want to swear, do it. Rage isn’t polite.
The idea is to let everything that’s in your body to come out and stay on the paper.
And accept that:
- You did the best you could with the knowledge and resources you had at the time.
- That’s how things happened and you can’t change the past
- You can choose to change your future
2. Decide on new actions
What are you going to do differently from now on?
What will you focus on once you stop paying so much attention to that person or failure?
Make a list of the actions you’ll take.
3. Execute them
Once you know what actions to take, execute them, otherwise, it’s useless.
What’s clear is that that person or situation or failure can’t be taking away so much of your energy.
If you forgive, you free yourself from the guilt, which gives you energy for the really important things.
Remember that forgiving isn’t the same as forgetting.
And that the fact that you do one doesn’t necessarily imply the other.
Although with time, it could happen.
As a result of choosing to focus on worthwhile things, you’ll be calmer and what’s keeping you trapped will leave.
You aren’t forgetting, because you need to keep what you learned, but you stop valuing it.
Once you let go of your negative feelings, there’s space for new feelings.
I hope my explanation helps you understand the difference between forgiving and forgetting so you can take a step forward, if you are trapped in a painful situation.
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Isn’t it frustrating to read something that could really change your life to then FORGET it because you didn’t look at it again?
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