‘Forgive and Forget’ has been age-old advice which we have been passed on from medieval times to the digital age of internet. Meaning and intention of the advice has hardly changed over these many centuries. Human experience and manifestation of this advice is something very interesting to understand and invest our time in it. This advice has lived and transpired through many generations across many cultures and geographies. However, I feel this has been misinterpreted and misused many times in our daily lives. “To Forgive” and “To Forget” are two different aspects of the advice.
So, When we say, “Forgive and Forget”, what exactly do we mean by this. What exactly we mean when we tell this to our kids? Or What was our experience we had in our lives when we were passed on this advice from our parents and family?
“To Forgive” is a very important life skill one needs to learn for decluttering your mind and conscience. As we go through our lives, not so good interactions tend to load us with add-on baggage which manifests itself in bad mood, feeling burdened and mentally tired. Hence, forgiving someone or oneself helps in clearing up the clutter so that sun can shine on you tomorrow again with renewed energy. It re-affirms the faith in humanity again. It helps you to rejuvenate your mind to trust again.
“To Forget” is equally important as a philosophy. Forgetting is also essential for our mental health. Some researchers even believe that forgetting is related to ethics. If unjust thoughts continue to linger in your mind, they may finally result in unethical actions. Forgetting helps us to get rid of the wrong kind of thoughts and actions. Forgetting is important for leaving behind previously experienced humiliations and continuing with pride. Forgetting helps us to move towards the future, leaving the past behind. Both memory and forgetting to contribute to the continuation of life, allowing us to forget the anger and pains of the past. Forgetting helps us to construct our life’s plot as we want. Without forgetting unnecessary things, we cannot create a design of our liking. We cannot tell a beautiful story without omitting some secondary details.
Based on the arguments above, it is pivotal to acknowledge that “To Forgive” and “To Forget” both are tremendously important of sustenance of life and progress towards brighter and shinier future. Second differential to this theory is to decide when to use “Forgive” and “Forget” features of our synaptic health.
As per my belief and personally, I tend to use “Forgive” aspect more than “Forget” feature of the neural network. “Forgive” feature helps you to learn and course correct yourself leading to lifelong learnings from smallest of smallest episodes of life. Which eventually leads to increased cognizance and self-awareness about oneself culminating into increased confidence. The reasons which, I think are very relevant in using “To Forgive” more than to “To Forget” are following:
- Forgiving is critical to our emotional health. By refusing to forgive someone, we are choosing to hold on to all the anger and bitterness that their actions have created. When we choose to hold onto this anger and let it eat us up, it can make us irritable, impatient, distracted, and even physically ill. Forgiveness is all choosing to let go of the destructive emotions inside of us which otherwise can create tsunami of maladies in mental and physical self.
- We can learn from past experiences. We need to take what we can learn, be mindful of the lesson, and move on. Here is where, “To Forget” helps. Move on in life with the lesson and not the person or attribute attached to it. Even in the middle of the situation, we can learn something about ourselves — what pushes our buttons, where we might have sensitivities, and how we handle getting hurt by someone we care about. With this new knowledge, we are better equipped for future relationships and the inevitable conflicts that will come with them.
- Forgiving can strengthen our relationships. All relationships can be restored, and even deepen and thrive, not despite what happened in the past but because of it. The act of forgiving strengthens people’s commitment to a healthy relationship. And they become more committed to not allowing divisive and hurtful conflicts to occur in the future. It basically means, salvaging relationships are more important than the frictional disturbance.
Having said this, it takes years of practice and devotion to put this philosophy in proper usage. But once mastered, it leads to humungous amounts of self-awareness and unusual calmness in otherwise a very noisy world. Conclusively, I completely agree with Mahatma Gandhi. He said “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.”