I have recently spent some time reflecting upon the age-old expression ‘forgive and forget’ and contemplating its reality. Of course, in an ideal world, one could easily master the art of forgiveness. However, likewise, in an ideal world, that forgiveness would not be necessary. To forgive and forget is to achieve personal tranquility, but is this always obtainable?
I often feel extremely conflicted when it comes to forgiveness, considering it to be something that is necessary, yet challenging. I am fortunate to have rarely experienced sadness at the hands of those who are close to me. However the times that I have, have prompted me to reflect on this issue.
Ironically, whilst being hurt by loved ones is the most upsetting, it is usually the circumstance under which we grant the most forgiveness. I suppose I would describe myself as a forgiving person, which is why I feel uneasy when situations eventually push me too far, and I am left with a hesitation to do so. I feel, more so recently, that I put pressure on myself to let things go, despite the fact that they are still affecting me. Of course, I agree that dwelling on painful situations can be both frustrating and mentally exhausting, but completely getting over something is often more difficult than it seems.
This doesn’t mean to say that you think of who or what hurt you every minute of the day, but simple reminders can still cause anger or sadness to resurface long into the future. Personally, I believe that it takes a stronger person to forgive than it does to apologise and therefore we shouldn’t punish ourselves for having some difficulty in letting things go.
In reality, I think that forgiveness can take much longer than we initially anticipate. As usual, I am hard on myself when it comes to things like this and often feel frustrated that I can’t help but still be angry about certain situations. However, I have come to realise that the expectation to be completely at peace with everything is simply unrealistic. Instead, so far, I have found that the best way to deal with frustrations regarding painful past experiences, is to view them as valuable life lessons. However, at the same time, it is important to acknowledge that you can’t simply disregard natural human emotions, and you shouldn’t feel guilty if these emotions towards a person or situation linger a while after the experience has passed.
So the question is, can we really forgive and forget? Honestly, I am not sure. I think that forgiveness can eventually come with time, but I don’t think you can always forget someone’s actions or the way they have treated you. Although, this doesn’t always need to be viewed as a bad thing, and the memory can act as a reminder of the lessons you have learnt and the experiences that have shaped you as a person. Unfortunately, painful experiences can upset you for a long time afterwards, but this is perfectly normal. Finding the strength to forgive can certainly be a very complex process, so don’t be too hard on yourself.