Spoiler alert! The Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, and the biggest myth of all “forgiveness reconciles past hurts.” To forgive is Divine and all about the heart. To forget is more…heady, and in a less than ideal way. Apologies must be more than words to be effective. — BadWitch
Readers Are Spellbound & Perplexed…
Dear GWBW — I’ve mostly forgiven but not forgotten. Can you ever really go back? — H.G. Wells
Dear H.G. Wells,
Forgiveness is not forgetting. Forgiveness is moving past feeling the hurt and betrayal to a place of non-attachment—for yourself. Somehow, humans seem to believe that to forgive is to forget. But The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind does not allow for us to build and grow from lessons learned.
When someone hurts you, your memories of that hurt are stored in the brain with a charge. This charge allows the brain to access that memory and the information contained in that memory more easily. Why? Because we are animals that learn! The experience hurt you and your brain wants to rememberwhat happened easily so you can avoid similar hurts in the future. Taking the charge off that memory is part of the work of forgiveness. Getting to a place where that hurt no longer hurts you. When the memory is stored as a neutral source of information you can access the wisdom gained from the situation without getting stuck in the emotionality.
Forgiveness is getting to the point that you realize that the person involved in the situation did the best they could do with the tools and understanding they had at the time. Does that mean you should place yourself back in that situation with a person who has already shown you the best way they understand how to treat you ended in your hurt? Not unless you have witnessed a long rehabilitation and evolution, over some time. People can change. The question for you is whether this person has given you enough data to believe they have more capacity than they showed last time.
Forgive because it is best for you. Reserving energy to carry around the hurt, remind yourself of the hurt and stew over the hurt makes no sense. Why leave your energy stuck in the past? Why continually drag that pain into the present? Forgive for your mental and emotional health. Forget at your own peril.
In every challenging situation there is wisdom to be gained. One very important lesson is about how you invited this type of behavior. Now, I’m not saying you asked for it. What I’m saying is, we tell people how to treat us. We tell people by how we treat ourselves and how we allow them to treat us. Are there some ways that you can treat yourself with more loving kindness and as more of a priority in your own life to show others the high level of care you deserve? Have you communicated clearly when others seemed to treat you with less care than you deserved? No matter the challenge, you take back your power when you choose to accept the opportunity to learn more about yourself and evolve.
So keep up the good work. Forgive. It is absolutely the best thing you can do for you. Reconcile if you see proof that the hurt of the past is a thing of the past. Self-preservation first. If you do not stand up for you and make you a priority, no one else will.
Acting with love instead of fear allows you to let go of anger and resentment.
Nice “other side of the coin”-ism to Monday’s post when Tarzan was learning (among other things) How to Apologize. Seems you’ve already done so, H.G. however, religious Omegas 3 intake aside, I don’t believe anyone’s memory is so strong that it is the thing that keeps us stuck and not moving forward in life. It’s the strong emotions we assign to those memories. A big part of our coaching is about retraining the brain by lessening to removing the emotional charge (week 4) and helping you leave a neutral memory.
That said, I want to focus on the role of love to forgiveness to reconciling, which is more realistic not to mention healthier for you than the myth of “forgetting.”
To get to true forgiveness (not just the lip service type) requires love of the self. You have to genuinely care about your own wellbeing to love yourself enough to forgive yourself to release, not “forget” post-forgiveness. ‘Ghost Town’ , a cosmically fabulous movie I have no idea what took me so long to watch, is successful as an allegory as well as metaphorically explores why “ghosts” hang around rattling their chains at us long after they’ve died. It’s the unfinished business of the hurt, under- or non-loving kind. Throw off the shackles that chain you to the past ghosts — and only you hold that key — by allowing, giving yourself permission to. Not only is the past done, it’s only as important or powerful as you assign it. This is not about who’s “actually right or wrong” but rather how your heart internalized the hurt around the situation.
Now is just the exact right time and space to do so, H.G. — look at all the other old institutions we all held so dearly that have miserably failed, and now are in deep need of reconstruction. This is a new age the way that phrase never meant it before!
Self-love and -forgiveness first can help you move past your current unwillingness, reluctance or inability to let go of the importance you place around the “unforgettable situation” and move forward. ‘Ghost Town’ gently makes the point that even if you are the wronged party it is your own unwillingness to stop clinging to being so, that creates your inability to release the hurt and blame that keeps those ghosts haunting you, hindering your present and future relationships (and their quality). All we humans do this to varying degrees. Going beyond being stuck in the past requires the self-discipline of self-love to get to self-forgiveness (e.g., for “being such a fool” or “I let them do that to me”-isms that, once identified, are springboards for healing action to change).
“Love” means so many different things to different people, that I will be most helpful by ending here with a reminder: to love oneself doesn’t take guru-strength spirituality, or any special higher education. Anyone willing to try to allow it is qualified. Love is the best preventative, proactive and inoculating thing we can do for ourselves (and the others around us benefit inadvertently) — and ironically, self-love (-acceptance, -forgiveness) is the best kind of virus we could hope to spread. The action and saying shouldn’t be “forgive and forget” but…
Love & forgive to really reconcile,
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