Forgive and Forget – Is it possible?
I’ve been thinking about the “forgive and forget” advice my Mom used to constantly gave me. I’ll tell you why. It is funny how life comes a full circle and people who treated you badly suddenly do an about turn and decide to be nice. Growing up as a “fatherless girl” as I was called, quite a few members of my family did not think my Mom and I deserved a normal life because we were not a “normal” family. Consequently we were shuffled around quite a bit. Thanks to our “tradition” one never talked back to the elders in the house, regardless of whether they were right or wrong. Oh yes, they were wrong. Often.
As I grew older, and developed a mind of my own, the rebel in me grew too. I would find it hard to keep quiet when they were unkind to my Mom. I always considered myself stronger emotionally but couldn’t bear to see my Mom hurt. And it would freak me out when my Mom smiled and said “forgive and forget”. I mean, how could she?
Bad enough forgiving is not easy – but forgetting? Forget it, was what I thought. It takes a huge heart to forgive AND forget and my Mom had it. Over the past four years, as we lost a few family members, I’ve been pondering over what she said and wonder if she didn’t have a point. I also realize that forgiveness has a lot of health benefits, as difficult as it might be to practice.
Why should you forgive and forget?
If nothing else, for freedom from stress. We know all about the myriad health problems stress can bring. With all that goes on in our lives these days, the last thing we want to do is harbor grudges and raise our blood pressure. Besides keeping your blood pressure in check, forgiveness also keeps your immune system working fine and avoids back pain, headaches and tummy aches. But the important thing is freedom from anger, resentment, a tendency to be down in the dumps each time a bad memory strikes and all sorts of negative thoughts.
You’re probably thinking, forgiving is tough. Who said forgiving is easy? As with all unpleasant things, the concept sounds great until we have to do it ourselves. Moreover, I personally don’t think forgetting is good for health. In fact, I’d go so far as to say it is near-impossible for me to forget.
I’ve had this argument with my Mom so many times and she’d say, “Who is asking you to forget? All I am saying is remember in a kind way”. What she meant was remember, but without the cussing and meanness. I have to confess that cursing is highly therapeutic – but there’s a time and a place.
On the other hand, you pay the price for being unforgiving – it stresses you out emotionally and physically.
So, can you actually develop forgiveness?
Earlier this month, on Valentine’s Day, I posted a poster on Facebook that said, “Love is like a fart. If you have to force it, it is probably shit”. I think the same applies for forgiveness. While you can’t force it, I know it is possible to nurture it by getting over the hostility and stop whining over the issue. It is good to see the positive side of things and segue into a good mood so that we can let go of the resentment that festers in us.
The key to forgiveness – gratitude
Gratitude is a great way to usher in the practice of forgiveness because it basically involves appreciating and acknowledging all the good things. It changes our perspective of situations and encourages us to forgive.
If the very thought of forgiving someone who hurt you makes you see red, you are obviously under great stress. We often tend to shoot the messenger in such situations. Managing the stress may soften the anger and resentment and helps us accept the situation. There are certain things we just can’t change in life, so it is easier to acknowledge them and move on.
Have you heard the saying “You are not your story”? I have. The painful truth is – even if it is a damn good story, you are not your story! Look at the situation from a different angle. Rather than feel the victim who has experienced grave injustice, why not see ourselves as survivors looking ahead with optimism?
You can simply decide to let go of the angry thoughts that eat you and invite feelings of love, compassion and empathy replace the anger and bitterness. Obsessing over the negative is known to eventually result in mental health problems.
To forgive, it is important to see things objectively without playing the blame game. As tough as it sounds, the next step is to walk in the shoes of the person who hurt you. Who knows what their side of things might be?
What if you don’t feel like forgiving?
I go through this sometimes, and I think it is fine not to forgive especially with some things are hard to forget, as long there’s no feeling of revenge festering in us. We just let things be. Whether we deserved the hurt or not, the wise thing to do is to initiate healing.For our own good. The most important thing is to come to terms with what is bothering us, whether we forgive or not. Of course, my Mom found it easy to not only forgive those who hurt her, but also wished them well. I’d think that as long as we don’t nurture mean feelings for them, it is as good as forgiveness, right?
What do you think? Is it easy to forgive and forget?
I am eager to know – please share in the comments.
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