Why It's Important To Forgive But Not Forget

It’s Totally Possible, And OK, To Forgive—But Not Forget

Refusing to forgive and refusing to forget are NOT one and the same.


"Forgive and forget," a common enough phrase—one which I feel is overused due to its simple flow and catchy phrasing, not to mention people love alliteration. Regardless, it's thrown around too generally and preaches a message which is completely adverse when it comes to one's own sanity.

I agree with the first half of the saying—forgive. There's no point in bearing a grudge, it clogs up your memory with negativity, something that should be dispelled, not held in. Moreover, forgiving is healthy! According to the Mayo Clinic the benefits of forgiveness include:

  • Healthier relationships
  • Improved mental health
  • Less anxiety, stress and hostility
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Fewer symptoms of depression
  • A stronger immune system
  • Improved heart health
  • Improved self-esteem --- you can read the article here.

With so many positive side effects, its hard to imagine why exactly people have such a hard time forgiving. Yet many find it exceptionally difficult.

Forgiveness is never easy, especially if you effortlessly hold a grudge. Either way, it's important to recognize the futility in holding onto anger, desires of revenge, etc…

By clinging to this hostility, refusing to forgive, the only person you're hurting is yourself.

Yet the second half, I just can't uphold—forget. "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results:" a quote famously misattributed to Albert Einstein, but actually originated by Rita Mae Brown. It's origin is beside the point, but what does this all-too-common saying have to do with "forgetting?"

When you forget, you essentially "forget" the person ever wronged you, "forget" she has a tendency to lie or cheat or utter harsh words or stab you in the back. You "forget" he is capable of harming you.

The quote could be: "Insanity is choosing to forget the same thing over and over again and expecting a change of character:" Allowing the same person to treat you the same way over and over again, yet expecting things to be better.

When someone repeatedly makes the same hurtful decisions, you can be pretty sure it's just in their character—a trait that probably won't change anytime soon.

The fact of the matter is, forgetting opens you up to vulnerability. Sure, there are certain circumstances in which it's totally fine to forget—your sister steals your shirt, your best friend says something hurtful, your boyfriend does something mean. When to forget is open to your judgement. If you ask me: base forgiveness on the severity and \ number of occurrences.

If you continually "forget," you leave yourself vulnerable to suffering the same treatment at the hands of the same person. Insanity.

By forgetting the way(s) someone has treated you in the past, the only person you're hurting is yourself.

Refusing to forgive and refusing to forget are NOT one and the same. Refusing to forgive means holding onto a grudge, allowing negativity to permeate your life. Refusing to forget means sparing yourself from the same maltreatment you've suffered in the past.

So next time someone urges you to forgive and forget, remember that it's okay not to forget—you're not vengeful or resentful, you're simply protecting yourself from a toxic person.

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