Life lessons


Forgive and forget“. Apparently a mantra for us human beings if we want to continue living a reasonable life I suppose. I have been thinking about forgiveness lately. Especially after, coincidentally, I read a brilliant book and watched a brilliant movie which had themes of forgiveness in them. I don’t want to give away much about who the protagonist tries to forgive in the book as it would give away a lot. But in the movie, The Descendants, the promos kind of give you an idea already so I’ll talk about that.

In ‘The Descendants’, George Clooney’s wife is in a coma and he then finds out from his daughter that she had been having an affair. And as you can imagine, his heart is pretty much ripped out of him. Personally, I cannot imagine forgiving someone who has cheated on me. When I hear about relationships where one partner has cheated on the other and yet, the one who has been cheated on takes the partner back, I don’t know how they do it.

I used to say that I could forgive people but never forget what they did. I guess I thought they were mutually exclusive. When I think about it now, I wonder — if you can’t forget what a person has done to you, you probably have not been able to actually forgive them. I remember for years holding on to grudges about how my parents had wronged me [read: punished me for certain things but not my sister for the same] and even though I kept saying I’d forgiven them, I hadn’t really forgotten any of those perceived unjust events. And I would regularly bring them back up in arguments and disagreements in chronological order. However, about 5 years ago or so, I think I really and truly forgave them. Because somewhere in my adult mind, I got some perspective of things. That I was not so hard done by. And now, I don’t necessarily remember each and every unfair event.

I don’t think there is any right way to forgive. Or even any rule that we should forgive. After all, if you think of some of the most atrocious crimes committed, you cannot possibly expect victims to forgive the perpetrators! Yet, there are some who do. And just like with the cheating partner, I don’t know how they get the strength to forgive.

Some questions I find that pop up for me are: When do people know to forgive? Is it when they find themselves so stuck with resentment and holding grudges that it affects their daily lives? Or is it just a time thing? And can you forgive someone without letting them know you have forgiven them? Like for instance, if someone you haven’t forgiven is dead, can you forgive them and successfully move on with your life? I’m not really looking for answers around this. I just find myself asking the questions.

But there are questions I’d like to ask you.

Do you find it easy to forgive someone? No matter what they may have done? 

And do you think you can forgive but not forget? Or have you learnt that they are not mutually exclusive?

Do share.

Until next time,


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  • theerailivedin
    27 January 2012 at 5:50 am

    I personally find forgiving and forgetting all about it exclusive. Though I totally agree with the quote in the post, and I actually did something on the same lines by choosing to forgive my soon-to-be-ex-husband despite the harm he’s done to me and my daughter’s life, forgetting all about it isn’t going to happen anytime soon.

    • Psych Babbler™
      29 January 2012 at 7:22 am

      Thanks for your thoughts MyEra…I have read your post and I think it speaks volumes that you are choosing to forgive and able to forgive him as well. And as you said, you can’t possibly forget about it at least not right now…I guess a person knows they have forgiven someone if the thoughts no longer cloud their minds and they are able to get on with their lives and live it to the fullest.

  • Spaceman Spiff
    27 January 2012 at 6:02 am

    I have the same problem. I can forgive, but can’t forget. It’s very hard for me, and it’s definitely something that I am working on. I remember each and every abusive text msg that my ex sent me after I broke up with him. I claim to have forgiven him, because I’m apathetic towards him now. I neither hate nor love him. But like you said, if I haven’t forgoteen, I’m not sure whether I have forgiven either…

    Why is it so hard to let go of things that have hurt us, when there are so many other good things that have happened, to make up for the crappy things? Maybe because subconsciously, we like the pain.

    • Psych Babbler™
      29 January 2012 at 9:21 am

      Ah Spiffy, if only I knew the answer to the question about letting go…possibly we like pain or maybe certain personalities just like to hold on to something no matter how bad?? Who knows! Life can sometimes be so complicated!

  • smokinglife
    27 January 2012 at 6:59 am

    The quote speaks for itself :).
    I personally feel that, forgiving and forgetting is a choice.
    Whatever the damage that has been done by the perpetrators, it has been done and we have no control over it. We can fight for justice and punish the perpetrators. But it will not put you at ease if you don’t let yourself to forgive and forget. You obviously cannot forget easily, but you can forgive.
    You can choose to forgive and learn to appreciate the other beautiful things in life or you can choose to hold the hatred/grudge/anger/guilt and be wallowed in that forever and never opening your eyes to the world around you.

    • Psych Babbler™
      30 January 2012 at 6:42 pm

      Welcome here Smokinglife! Yeah I loved that quote…speaks volumes, doesn’t it? I think what you say re justice v forgivenss is important…I think we think sometimes that once we get justice, it’s easy to forgive but that’s not necessarily true! And yes, it’s a choice that you have highlighted so perfectly…it’s a choice about how we live I suppose! 🙂

  • Bikramjit Singh Mann
    27 January 2012 at 11:26 am

    Thats why they say the only the BRAVE can forgive ..

    i think i am not that brave hence i dont forget and i dont forgive .. I need to work on that


    • Psych Babbler™
      30 January 2012 at 6:46 pm

      Hmm…not sure about brave necessarily Bikram…I tend to think I’m brave in many aspects but I know I find it hard to forgive some things versus others…maybe it’s more about whether we just hold grudges more or hold on to negative things more than others?

  • Maddie
    27 January 2012 at 3:23 pm

    I am not so sure whether forgiving and forgetting are mutually exclusive or not. Personally I have forgotten many issues and incidences where I was wronged but I haven’t forgiven. What troubles me most is that, I can forget about the incidence and then not stay in touch with him/her. Life is fine then. But what about the people who are always going to be in your life on a long term basis. How do you forget then? And then what do you mean by forgiving. Do you say, I forgive you and then behave like best friends? Or do you forgive but still maintain you distance? I have never been able to do that. The evil people in my life have always been able to find means to hurt and wrong me further. When this happens it is difficult to let go of old grudges. I know am not making much sense. Bottom line I cannot forgive and neither can I forget.

    • Psych Babbler™
      30 January 2012 at 6:53 pm

      I know what you mean Maddie…I think it’s harder when you can’t forgive people in your life. Personally, I could never say I forgive you to someone and honestly be best friends…it’s just too hard. It’s like we have to start from scratch again in terms of earning trust etc. And you know, if you have been burnt more than once by the same people, it’s highly understandable you can’t forgive or forget. I had an ex friend who treated me like shit…gave her many chances and finally realised she was using me. Now I’m not in touch with her and I tend to think I’ve moved on but not completely forgotten what she did.

  • Gangubai
    28 January 2012 at 11:38 am

    I learnt that though I was able to forgive, forgetting was difficult. But I made a concious effort to forget. It is not like it has all gone away, but since I don’t dwell on the past so much, the bad memories have begun to blur.
    I have blogged about it here:
    But like you mentioned, I don’t think I will be able to forgive a cheating spouse ever. That would be the end of the relationship.

    • Psych Babbler™
      30 January 2012 at 6:54 pm

      Gangu, it’s so important not to dwell on the past…unfortunately for me I have the tendency to ruminate a lot and maybe that’s what gets in the way. I do remember reading your post but will go back to it anyway…

  • Miss Komal
    29 January 2012 at 6:22 am

    i can forgive ( though very hard to be on the forgiving end)…..and it is hard to forget ( may be with time… ) 🙂

    • Psych Babbler™
      30 January 2012 at 6:54 pm

      Welcome here Miss Komal! Forgetting I’m sure comes with time as does forgiving for some of us…

  • opinionsandexpressions
    21 February 2012 at 6:52 pm

    there are some things I easily forgive and even forget but somethings like betrayal of trust – I neither forgive nor forget.

    • Psych Babbler™
      22 February 2012 at 10:59 pm

      Trust is an interesting issue Reema…some people might be able to forgive but I do wonder if they can actually forget~