The saying “forgive and forget” is one that’s always seemed odd to me, how can we forget a memory? It’s not like our brains come with an erase button. If we can’t delete it, then how can we go about forgiving?
This is something that has repeatedly been coming up for me over the years as I’ve been actively working on healing the emotional wounds that I have carried from my past.
From my own experience, I’ve always loved the idea to forgive rather than continue to have tension between me and another person and so I would move on...but I couldn’t forget.
This would set me up to have a switch that could be activated as soon as something in my current reality reminded me of a past event that I had “forgiven” and I had to come to terms that it still had the power to upset me.
A clear example of this came up just a short time ago when I went to dinner with my girlfriends. The backstory here is that they are like family to me and, although there’s a history of bullying, I love them and have let the hurtful things that happened in our youth slide because I know that they never meant to be hurtful, they just took things too far at times. Intellectually, I have released any resentment but on an emotional level...well...the car ride to the restaurant made me realize that, nope, emotionally, it still stings. A nerve was struck when some innocent teasing on their part, brought out a side of me that I don’t enjoy, I became irritated, short and unkind. Straight into the victim mentality from many moons ago. Luckily, I’ve learned to breathe and unhook from those emotions fairly quickly so, on that occasion, I didn’t act on those feelings and therefore it didn’t ruin our dinner.
This was a blessing, it reminded me that I have memories stored that can still be triggered under the right conditions. It also gave me the opportunity to use the tools I’ve learned to continue to act as the person I want to be, instead of being led by the emotions that would have ruined our evening and, who knows, maybe even our friendships (although doubtful, we’re pretty good at showing each other grace 💞)
From my experience of working closely with people for nearly 20 years as a “hairapist” 💇♀️😂 and now a life coach, I know many others that have been in similar situations whether it’s from a romantic relationship where they felt hurt, a family situation or even at their workplace. They have “made up” and moved on but it’s temporary. Once the emotions from the initial event settle, it’s easy to do this, but is it truly forgiveness if it can’t be forgotten? How, when the memory is triggered and the hurt feelings come back fresh (like a wound reopened) can we say it’s truly over?
This brought me to create my own roadmap for forgiveness which goes as follows:
Is it worth holding on to the hurt? (The answer to this is always NO!)
Does there need to be more conversation around it? If I am still feeling disrespected, or the original offence is repeating itself, then it’s my role to make sure the other party involved understands how I feel and to set boundaries around the issue so we both know how to avoid that in the future. This clarity prevents the “walking on eggshells feeling” for the other party as well. Win win!!!
If the boundaries are continually disregarded then the next question is “does this person need to have an active role in my life”? No? then, in the words of my late (in every aspect of that word 😂) friend Juan, “love you, miss you, bye” . If yes, like in the case of a family member, then I will reduce my time spent around that person as much as possible. Or if I can narrow it down to a specific topic or situation that is offensive to me, then I can avoid further pain by making that a “no-fly” zone.
Finally, if after all boundaries have been set, and all relationships are cleared for take off again, and I still find there are times that I am triggered, then this is a golden opportunity to do a deep dive into what is really upsetting me. Most times, as they saying goes, “it’s me, not you”. I am responsible for the meaning I give to situations and after I’ve been clear with others and I’ve set boundaries, then it’s not on anyone else to make sure that I am good. That’s my role 💪
In the end, I am the one who benefits from forgiveness which is why I choose to do it. By releasing those emotions, every one of us humans can then live a life that is more at ease. The choice to engage in the situation is ours and we also get to choose the meaning we give to it. My motto is that “everyone is doing the best that they can in that moment. Pair that with “hurt people, hurt people” and I tend not to take as much personally, because it usually isn’t. Please feel free to add it to your collection of mottos as well, they may be cliche, but that’s a-ok 😜
As with everything else, I am still learning as I go and I’m proud of where I am. Hopefully there’s a nugget of inspiration in here for you. If you have any tips on how you’ve learned to forgive or if you have anything to share on the topic, please do so below, I love hearing from you 💞 And if you know someone who could benefit from this conversation, please share it their way ✈️
So go ahead FORGIVE even when you can’t forget because it’s good for you and you’re worth it.
Love and light to you,