Don’t Forget to Forgive

Reading a post earlier today reminded me of the self-imposed burdens so many of us carry. We’re taught by common folk lore that we must forgive and forget, and therefore assume that the one is dependent on the other. I disagree. 

Forgetting is not what brings us solace or peace, or the will to move on. Forgiving on its own doesn’t either. For me, it’s more about accepting or understanding. Forgetting never features. At least not as a deliberate goal. When we try to forget something in the hope of finally being able to forgive, we end up burying the issue rather than dealing with it.

If we’re successful at forgetting, which would often require a healthy dose of distractions, we move on never having dealt with the emotional damage that the previous experience caused. So instead, I believe we should focus on understanding and at times, simply accepting. We may never be able to understand why someone did what they did, but accepting that it was something they did because of who they are, rather than who we are, often sets the process of forgiveness in motion. 

The more we understand, the greater our ability to accept. And if we understand and accept, forgiveness is a natural progression unless we make a conscious effort to hold on to the bitterness of it all, which inevitably is simply a defence mechanism to prevent ourselves from being vulnerable to such pain again. I can’t think of any other reason why so many people that suffered the anguish of betrayal would refuse to trust again. 

I think that forgiveness is only noble and sincere if done with understanding and acceptance. If not, it’s simply a token gesture to appease our conscience and perhaps a misguided effort to appear magnanimous and kind-hearted to those around us. It’s under circumstances like these that we end up bearing grudges and pain in isolation because we gave up the right to express our anger because of our show of insincere or uninformed generosity of spirit. 

Forgive and forget should not be the objective, it should be the natural outcome of a heart that seeks solace through understanding and conviction in the self, and most of all acceptance of our limited ability to control the hearts and actions of others. 

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