Forgiveness is the conscious and deliberate decision to release feelings of resentment, anger, vengeance, etc. toward a person or group who has hurt or wronged you. Often we’re told that we should “forgive and forget,” like that’s somehow the key to moving on and living a better life. But what if you can’t forget? What if forgetting isn’t the optimal choice?
Sometimes It’s Forgive and Forget, And Sometimes It’s…
- forgive + learn from it
- forgive + never forget
- remember + protect yourself
- forgive + set boundaries
- choosing not to forgive or forget
- wishing them peace + protecting yourself
- setting boundaries + knowing you can’t change them
- accepting what is + knowing things sometime change
If You Can’t Just Forgive And Forget, I Want You To Know
- This might be for a reason. The brain tends to seek out and remember negative or threatening information because it’s trying to protect you.
- Traumatic memories tend to replay or get stored in fragments until they’re processed.
- It’s ok if you don’t want to forget.
- It’s ok if you don’t want to forgive.
- It’s ok if forgiveness is taking you longer than you’d like.
- Choosing not to forgive and forget doesn’t make you “bitter” or “angry.”
- Some things are unforgivable.
- You can forgive what they did and still not have them back in your life.
- You can choose to move on and still remember or learn from the experience.
Forgiveness Is Hard For A Reason
When something bad happens to you or someone does something harmful, your sense of reality is often shattered. You might start asking yourself questions like:
- How did I allow this to happen?
- Did I even know them?
- What is wrong with me?
- Why would they do this to me?
- What should I have done differently?
It becomes so hard to just forgive and forget because our entire worldview has likely been shattered. This may impact beliefs about who you should trust and who is in your corner. Give yourself some grace here – it’s not easy.
If You’re Trying To Forgive, Here Are Some Reminders
- You can let go of your anger, resentment, and pain, without allowing someone back into your life.
- You can live fully and still be aware of what they did.
- You can wish them well and not validate what they have done.
- People can change and you don’t have to wait around for it to happen.
- People can change and you don’t have to be there when they do.
- People can change and you don’t have to help them do it.
- People can change and you’re allowed to embrace it when they do (even if you said you never would).
- People change and you may not like or support that change.
- People can change and you still don’t have to forgive.
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Thank you for this. It was really conflicting for me to forgive what that person did to me but I did it because I thought it will give me peace, it did a little bit but I still remember the things that person did to me and I start to get really hurt + start to doubt myself on how I responded. Now I see that we can do many things in forgiveness and not wire to response with a typical response but what I actually need.