Forgiving & Forgetting; The Difference

Earlier this year, I wrote a post all about learning to forgive myself. That’s something that I am definitely still working on, but today I wanted to speak from the other side of the spectrum about forgiving someone else.

Forgiveness is one of those things that you experience time and time again in your life; on both sides. You’ll be forgiven and you will forgive; inevitably. But there’s a big difference between forgiving and forgetting, and I’m going to explore that a little more in this post.

But, to start, let’s have a chat about forgiveness.

So, as humans, we obviously are going to make mistakes sometimes. These can range from smaller things like OMG TOTALLY SORRY I ACCIDENTALLY OVERFED YOUR CAT to bigger things like OMG TOTALLY SORRY THAT I RUINED YOUR LIFE FOR A FEW YEARS, ya know. 

But, to bust a myth that I see time and time again; apologies and forgiveness do not have to come hand in hand.

Likewise, forgiveness is not a byproduct of an apology. You do not have to forgive someone, no matter what they’ve done; forgiveness is a choice.

And it’s a choice that only you get to make.

Sure, sometimes forgiveness has it’s advantages. But, ultimately, forgiveness is a personal gift that only you get to give.

I mean, if you end up losing a friendship because your bff accidentally gave your cat a full pouch of food instead of 3/4, you might wanna have a little rethink.

Forgiveness, and our willing fulness to give it as humans does tend to depend on the severity of the act. But, generally, I find that we are just expected to give it, and that’s something that I’m not okay with. 

See, forgiveness has to be a personal journey. Forgiveness (meaning to let go of negative emotions relating to an offence) can take time. It can take seconds and not much thought, or it can be deliberated over for years.

The one thing that I will say about forgiveness is, though, even if you are not able to give it to other people, please consider giving it to yourself.

If someone else has forgiven you for something; then you should forgive yourself. Likewise, even if someone hasn’t forgiven you for something because they are simply not ready to let go of those negative emotions just yet, forgive yourself first by letting go of your negative emotions about the situation. 

Holding grudges can weigh you down. Think of forgiveness as a freedom. Even if you don’t vocalise your forgiveness to the other person (you may feel that they do not deserve it), try to forgive for yourself to let go of those negative feelings.

Something I have always felt, though, is that forgetting is something different entirely.

I’m always unsure as to how, as a human, we are supposed to forget hurt. I mean, I can easily recall the most hurtful days of my life. And that is not because I have not let those things go, it is simply because forgiving and forgetting are not the same thing.

As humans, we thrive on learning. Learning about our environment, the people in it, and even ourselves. And these little forgiveness journeys add to that; they help us grow. Why, then, should we have to forget these?

Don’t get me wrong, I understand the logic that it’s easier to forget instances so that they are not constantly in your conscience mind. But, I also feel that if we have truly forgiven then we shouldn’t have to forget, it should’ve been a learning wobble which helps us make better decisions next time.

Forgetting is not a journey, it’s a full stop. How can we expect to rebuild those relationships if we add a full stop? Or if we erase some of the history entirely? 

Are we, I suppose, expected to forget the people that have hurt us and the things that they have done and our relationship with said person revert back to how it was before?

That just seems ridiculous.

Even if we can forgive a person and rebuild the relationship (no matter what type of relationship that is), then we ought to remember those mistakes as a part of our journey, rather than forgetting that they ever existed.

It may well just be me that thinks this way, but here’s a late night ponder of my thoughts for you anyway.

I’d love to hear your own experiences of forgiving & forgetting and what your opinion is.

Love,

H x

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1 Comment

  1. Abbeylouisarose 1st September 2018 / 7:20 PM

    This is a really thought provoking post, Hayley! I wholeheartedly agree with you about people expecting forgiveness in some circumstances – sometimes if someone does something wrong but doesn’t really comprehend how badly it has impacted upon you and still expects immediate forgiveness, it can make it even harder to accept! I also really agree with what you’ve said about forgiving yourself – it can be so difficult to let go of things you wish you’d done differently but holding a grudge against yourself is just as detrimental as holding one against another person!

    Abbey xxx

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