Forgive and Forget: Easier Said Than Done

Cursed are those who were blessed with excellent memories because it makes it more daunting to forgive and forget. The former part may come naturally and can be shaped by values and reason; forgiving is not difficult if we are offered amends. It is the art of forgetting that becomes the issue. We can’t naturally purge the sting of betrayal, the sense of inadequacy, or the pain that are ingrained in the memory of the trespass. Asking the heart to forget is easier than asking the mind to disassociate what occurred with how it made us feel. If you love someone you will be inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt and trust them again. When you over analyze the situation, the  wound will swell and fester.

The word forgiveness comes from the verb forgive. Merriam-Webster defines the verb as follows:

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This definition doesn’t cover forgiveness itself which I found out has many interpretations including the following one:

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In essense, to forgive and grant forgiveness one must meet pardon, exonerate, reprieve and have mercy, which implies that one will not harbor ill will and resentment towards the person asking to be forgiven. That’s the hard part because all of these synonyms require that you leave behind the event and focus on the learning experience, not the feelings stirred during the event. That’s were the forget part comes in handy.

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As you can see, by definition, the most involved part of the process is forgetting. It has many mechanism and definitions which in my experience opens the door for misinterpretation. I can tell you to forget about it but at the same time I am not making a commitment to forget it myself. In order to overlook the offense I will need to actively put the matter to rest, out of mind and cease to think about it or consider it. Having a good memory can hinder this part of the process substantially but if you can genuinely forgive and move on forgetting shouldn’t be as much of a problem as it is, say, for me.

I never forget how someone made me feel both in a good or by way. Their words become ingrained in my neurons, branding them into my subconcious forever. My brain will replay an event over and over again until it culls the emotions and resolves the conflict. It gets classified and sorted, sent to deep storage. This is the main reason why I am careful with my words and I expect others to be as well: I will remember what was said and most importantly, how it made us feel.

Reading someone’s change is demeanor is not difficult if you are paying attention. I can immediately tell if someone was surprised by, offended by or oblivious to the conversation based on the way their body languag reacts to the dialogue. You’d be surprised how people continue to dig themselves into a hole by prolonging a discussion a few arguments in the wrong direction. Humans give good cues when they are getting upset, dejected or riled up. Why we are not trained to identify and react to them baffles me.

Even though many of my friends are very educated, they come from very different upbringings, and this differentiator is key when managing my expectations of how we can successfully relate to each other. I have friends tell me that “You look so nice when you put an effort” without realizing that their passive-aggressive statement could sound insulting to those who don’t share their beauty and grooming standards. It’s not like I go outside in Crocs and sweat pants! 🙂 What was meant as a compliment ended up making me weary and uncomfortable around this individual since it was clear to me thay they were judging my appearance. Slip ups as these are considered micro aggressions. You’d be shocked to know how common back handed compliments are given, leaving people wondering if the comment was in fact sincere. Tone and the delivery of the content make a huge difference and I do my best to assume good intent even if there isn’t.

That’s why even though I understand you may think I mind kids parties because I had a miscarriage and lack a progeny (good intent), I still feel hurt and betrayed. Over time I have realized that I can’t forget how this makes me feel because not being invited for not having kids is something totally out of my control. I’d love to spend time with your kids and serve as aunt or mentor, and I wouldn’t be so upset if i didn’t communicate this fact clearly every time we meet or through social medial. After a while it is just plain rude and cruel to be told I am not a part of the club for no other reason than not having children. I find it despicable and appalling.

When you exclude a person or group from an activity and claim it is for their best interest you are not being friendly or kind; you are depriving them of an opportunity to spend time with you. Considering that friendship can be hierarchical, with one friend holding another in a higher regard, withholding an invitation shows yours is the only best interest being served. Stay away from me, peasant!

This is why we need to reel back our opinions and inspect them. What is important to us may not be important to others and when we open our mouths to communicate our thoughts, we may end up doing more harm than good. Now that bullying is in the spotlight, more and more people are keeping track of what you say, how you say it and how you act. As the title of the article suggests, anything is easier said than done and we must hold each other accountable. It is up to us to define how we want to relate to the world and how to manage our expectations and opinions of others.

In a society that hides behind the anonymity of the internet to opine and ridicule, we must be cautious with our energy and efforts; we must learn to identify and disengage the trolls effectively even if it turns out we are the ones trolling. Always remember we need to learn to forgive and forget ourselves too, dictating our own terms to let go in situations where we won’t get an apology or be extended a fortuitous effort to make amends. Words can cut a person more deeply than a knife which is why the pen will always be mightier than the sword. Use your pen and Liquid Paper(tm) wisely.

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