Logo NHC

Should I Forgive and Forget?

Kids easily forgive, can you?

Forgiveness is important. It may not seem like it when you are in the midst of a standoff, but it is. There are some valid, healthy reasons to forgive!

Kids innately know how to forgive and are naturally forgiving. For instance, I remember going to school one day in the 3rd grade and all of my friends teased me that day. For no reason, they all decided to pick on me and not play with me at recess. I was crushed (as much as an 8 year old can be).

The next day, everything was fine. My friends were talking to me and playing with me, and it was like nothing had ever happened! I didn’t know why and I didn’t care. I was just happy to have my friends back and easily forgave them for teasing me the day before.

It seemed it was common then among young girls to gang up and ostracize one person, and sadly, I believe it still takes place. I know I was guilty of participating in similar scenarios with other classmates back then. At that age though, it was so easy to forgive and move on. We didn’t hold grudges!

As in so many things, kids do it better! They have an innate sense of how to be a better person! They are curious about everything and express joy and delight in the simplest things. They are naturally loving and forgiving. Can we adults take a lesson?

I wish it were that easy! You can probably think of at least one person you frequently butt heads with. After repeated disagreements or arguments with that person over and over, it’s likely you will have a blow-up of some kind eventually.

Constant negative encounters take their toll. We become conditioned to always expect a confrontation from that person. You brace yourself for the next encounter. So much so, that you may even put up your defenses beforehand. Your anticipation of the confrontation may actually create it and you become the antagonist. Oh no!

I’m sorry to say I have been guilty and I have been the antagonist. Though, I am also a forgiving person. I just need to get better at  controlling the internal defense mechanism.

I bet you can think of a true life example of friends, family or acquaintances that had a disagreement and aren’t talking with someone in their life anymore. Maybe a divorced couple (perhaps you?) that won’t talk to their ex. The marriage ended so badly; the ex did something so awful that they can’t forgive them.

When you don’t forgive someone, you hold on to negative feelings that you may think are resolved because you choose not to have contact with that person. But are those feelings really resolved? If you think about someone that you haven’t forgiven, do you feel your heart rate increase? Do you feel yourself become even slightly agitated? How much energy does it take to avoid thinking about that person?

Negative energy feeds more negativity, spilling over into all aspects of your life, if you let it. Don’t!

In the long run, it’s not a question of whether they deserve to be forgiven. You’re not forgiving them for their sake. You’re doing it for yourself. For your own health and well being, forgiveness is simply the most energy-efficient option. It frees you from the incredibly toxic, debilitating drain of holding a grudge. Don’t let these people live rent free in your head. If they hurt you before, why let them keep doing it year after year in your mind? It’s not worth it but it takes heart effort to stop it. You can muster that heart power to forgive them as a way of looking out for yourself. It’s one thing you can be totally selfish about.  – Unknown

Our life experiences help shape us into who we are, so I’m not necessarily a proponent of forgetting, though. You can forgive without forgetting. This quote explains it best:

Anyone can hold a grudge, but it takes a person with character to forgive. When you forgive, you release yourself from a painful burden. Forgiveness doesn’t mean what happened was OK, and it doesn’t mean that person should still be welcome in your life. It just means you have made peace with the pain, and are ready to let it go.  – Unknown

And this one, “When you forgive, you in no way change the past – but you sure do change the future.”  - Bernard Meltzer

Even though you know it is best, you might still have a hard time forgiving. Counseling may be helpful and is worth looking into.

Essential oils used in aromatherapy can also be helpful in working toward forgiveness. Aromatherapy benefits include supporting healing, energy and balance in mind and body. This article shares a variety of essential oil recipes to create your own blend for forgiveness, humility, tranquility and more. You can buy essential oils for aromatherapy here inexpensively and with free shipping!

Featured Image Credit - Brian Viers via Flickr.com