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You Can Forgive But Not Forget?

Posted by lisa_fla (My Page) on
Wed, Nov 7, 12 at 11:15

I hear people say this and it bugs me. It doesn't sound like forgiveness to me. Sounds more like you are 'keeping score' or holding a bit of a grudge. I can see maybe if someone grew up in an abusive childhood or something like that, but in most circumstances it sounds to me like the person really isn't forgiven at all! What do you think?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: You Can Forgive But Not Forget?

Forgiving is for yourself, not the other person. It's letting go of something so you aren't walking around with something eating you up from the inside. You can forgive someone for wronging you but not forget what they did, as to leave yourself open to get hurt again. It's letting go of pain you are carrying around. Forgiving someone is not saying what they did is ok.

For instance, let's say a friend has stolen from you. You can choose to forgive them, but not remain friends with them anymore. You aren't forgetting what they did and are making a choice to not trust that person anymore, but you have forgiven them and moved on.

That's what it means to me anyway.


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RE: You Can Forgive But Not Forget?

Here's an article about Fred Luskin's work on the Forgiveness Project. I've heard Dr. Luskin talk, and he's wonderful.

To forgive means, to me, to move on. It's hard to forget, but if you don't move past forgiveness, the wrong will eat you up, the person who wronged you will continue to obsess your mind.

Here is a link that might be useful: Fred Luskin's Foregiveness Project


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RE: You Can Forgive But Not Forget?

I think that is fine in most cases. To decide to forgive someone is a conscious decision, while forgetting is not, unless someone suffers from a medical condition where memory fails them.
In the case where someone has done something that you need to forgive in order to move on, remembering it may help you avoid the same situation from happening in the future. To forgive and truly forget, probably only is possible with very minor things.

Elisabeth


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RE: You Can Forgive But Not Forget?

This is the best and quickest example I can think of:

Loaning a friend money that didn't pay you back. It's a good friend that forgives, but foolish one that forgets.


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RE: You Can Forgive But Not Forget?

I personally don't believe in forgiving a serious transgression. It does no one any good--it's terrible to say to someone who has committed an immoral and/or illegal act, "that's okay, I forgive you". What do they learn from that? There HAVE to be consequences to our actions, or we never improve. And it doesn't do me any good to push a serious hurt into the background, and give the person the chance to do it to me again.

I'm thinking specifically of the SIL who: stole a quarter of a million $$$ that was left for MIL's end care (MIL had Alzheimer's). SIL wasn't taking care of her, not taking her to dr. And not letting other family members near MIL, so they could help. There's a question about how FIL died, as well. SIL has NEVER EVER expressed any remorse--only anger that we got the courts involved and she was stopped from stealing any more. We haven't forgiven her, we won't, and we WILL NOT ever let her near us or our possessions again. (she has stolen/cheated us in the past, as well, and lies more often than she tells the truth).

Mind you, the situation is NOT eating me up--I only mention it to explain my position. We've moved on nicely, and don't really give her any thought from day to day. Know what would eat me up? If we 'forgave' this woman and let her back into our lives, and we had to worry about how she would next steal from us. We have peace knowing she won't hurt us again, because we won't permit it. How could we ever have that kind of peace if she were still in our lives?


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RE: You Can Forgive But Not Forget?

Azzalea, that's truly a horrid situation and an evil person. But, as others have indicated, above, forgiving her doesn't mean that you have to let her back into your life.

I know - I have a family member who has hurt me terribly. I had to forgive him (for myself, for God), but I don't have to put myself in harm's way again.


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RE: You Can Forgive But Not Forget?

But then, aren't you in the situation the OP is suggesting? That if you say you forgive, but continue to 'hold the transgression' against the person (by keeping them out of your life), you truly haven't forgiven, have you?

I refuse to play word games like that, or attempt to fool myself. I won't forgive the horrible things she's done, and I don't want this woman in my life. Believe me, a couple of paragraphs didn't give the entire story--she's far worse than you read above.


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RE: You Can Forgive But Not Forget?

I can forget but I don't always forgive, and why should I? When someone has done something rotten I see no reason to forgive them. If they apologize and ask to be forgiven, then I can.

Another person's bad actions do not eat at me.I can just erase them from my memory banks and move on.


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azzalea, I agree

I agree with azzalea. I can think of one specific person that I can see no reason to ever forgive. I won't go into details but I bet most of you would not forgive her either in that particular situation. My "unforgiveness" doesn't bother me one bit, in fact it makes me feel good about myself, that I would never be accepting of such behavior.


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RE: You Can Forgive But Not Forget?

When I was a naive young lady looking for love I thought I had found him until one night as I lay in my bed sleeping he came into my room with a glass votive candle holder in the shape of a dove (Avon) and a knife from my kitchen. I awoke to him strangling me, flipped over and then he proceeded to hammer away (with the candle holder) at my head and hands as they tried to protect my head. Thank god I passed out because I wouldn't have wanted to feel the knife penetrate my neck and shoulders. When he was done and had seen the damage and thought he'd killed me, he called the police and ambulance. I was angry for many years, hated men, had no use for them which was difficult since I had 5 brothers in my life but they understood.
It wasn't until much later that I decided the anger had to stop because I really did want to marry some day and have a family. The only way I could get rid of the anger was to forgive him. It took some time and could only happen when I was ready. This had nothing to do with him it was about me. Once I was able to do that my life changed. I met my husband and when I shook his massive hands at our first introduction I did not fear them or him. We've been married now going on 13 years. I wouldn't have that if I couldn't find that forgiveness. Do I forget, heavens no. The scars and the physical pain are constant reminders but they are also reminders of what I got in return for the act of forgiveness. Without it I'd probably be a single, bitter woman.
I tell you this because forgiveness really opens the door to so much and at the same time it does close doors and let's things rest. It takes alot of cajones to forgive as well and not everyone is capable of doing it.


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RE: You Can Forgive But Not Forget?

two.2acres,I am incredibly sorry you experienced that. I am crying for your pain as well as your happiness...


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RE: You Can Forgive But Not Forget?

When one forgives, they receive true peace. It's not the way of this world, but it's worth every ounce of energy it takes to get there.

Trust me, I've endured much, but I was the one suffering. They wronged me and I suffered, and then I suffered some more from my anger, never changing what had happened. Nothing could change what happened. I'm sure they didn't even think of me again! You won't change what happened, but you can change you. Forget it? I'm not really sure what that means. I think it's getting at unconditional love and I'm not that mature yet. I'm not holding a grudge, but I'm not jumping back in with both feet. Well, with one. With the other, I remember, but I don't let it interfere one bit. It's in the past. I'm sure I've made some mistakes, and I'd really love it if they didn't let them interfere. We're only human.


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RE: You Can Forgive But Not Forget?

The dictionary is our friend!

Looking up 'Forgive'..."To pardon" is *not* the first definition. Before that is "To give up resentment against or the desire to punish; to stop being angry with." I have a problem with the synonym: "To absolve."

I can understand the positive *for the forgiver* of giving up resentment and anger. My feelings don't extend far enough to pardon or absolve.

As for 'forget', one definition works here. It is "To overlook, omit or neglect intentionally." A synonym is 'neglect'.
We could let go of resentment and anger, and intentionally neglect to remember the incident. The opposite would be to continue to cling to resentment and anger and to repeatedly "worry the wound".


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RE: You Can Forgive But Not Forget?

As a believing Christian I try hard to do both. But I am not very good at either.


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RE: You Can Forgive But Not Forget?

How Can I Forgive You? By Janis Abrahms Spring. I'll be attending her workshop this weekend.

Forgiveness is an elusive concept because no one teaches us actually HOW to do it. True forgiveness in an anomale -because it requires both the hurt and the offender to participate. So often, the offender is unavailable, doesn't remember, is defensive, or is incapable or unwilling to particpate. It is uncomfortable to face those who are hurt by our intentional or unintentional behaviors.

I have seen true forgiveness occur professionally and personally and I'm telling you there is no substitute. More often, what we do instead is "Cheap forgiveness" or "Acceptance."

Unless you have amnesia, of course you will always remember past wounds. However, when both parties work together, one can absolutely let go of the emotional chains that create pain in relationship to those memories.


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RE: You Can Forgive But Not Forget?

I agree with Azzalea. I see it as a pragmatic situation. Many people, especially very religious people tend to chant the cliches a lot generally with the wish to have worldwide harmony.

I look at it this way, you're better off with the phrase that goes something like those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it. So you REALLY want to "forgive and forget"? I don't know an honest person who would say they do very often. You really DON'T want to remember that a murderer killed, so you take no precautions? I could go on, but won't. Certainly this doesn't mean that someone who said your hair looked ugly can't apologize, and in that case, forgive and forget and be done with it. But the telemarketer or spammer who scams seniors out of their life's savings, are you going to forgive, forget and let them go on doing it? I know I won't.

It's nothing more than another "feel good" phrase AFAIC. I happen to believe there are "unforgivable" things. There's times to forgive, there's times to forget, but there's also times to do neither. None of this suggests that one has to obsess on it, let it "eat you up" or anything like that. I don't quite understand why people can't understand that. The "forgive and forgetters" often seem to think only in the extreme. That is that unless you forgive and forget, you're going to self-destruct over it, obsessing, letting it get to you, think about it every hour of the day, etc. Sounds like that's the attitude that people should forgive and forget! :)

It's ironic that this discussion should come up this close to an election. Some who tout the memories of the past in campaigns (in good or in bad) certainly aren't forgiving and forgetting are they? LOL

Many people can't deal with a situation rationally so they embark on a form of self-hypnosis and say "I forgive you" to someone who isn't even there. It's really nothing more than dealing with a situation which many people can do without using the term "forgive". Actually, to me, is more of an abuse of the term "forgive" in many cases but some need to use the broad brush strokes for self satisfaction and if that's what floats their boat, hop aboard.


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RE: You Can Forgive But Not Forget?

Azzalea, your story gives me chills;
I'm involved in a similar situation right now.

Luckily, the intended victim has friends who intervened.

& the person who wanted her put into a home with no glasses, hearing aid, or telephone, who wanted to euthanize her cats & sell her house & her car...
is enraged & indignant & offended at us.

forgive?

not in a pig's eye.

"Know what would eat me up? If we 'forgave' this woman and let her back into our lives, and we had to worry about how she would next steal from us. We have peace knowing she won't hurt us again, because we won't permit it. How could we ever have that kind of peace if she were still in our lives?"

Amen.


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RE: You Can Forgive But Not Forget?

It all depends on what it is I have to forgive. I can forgive some things, but others I can't, and I have no problem with that at all. I don't let it eat me up...I move on, but when I am finished...I am finished. I can't imagine going back once you lose trust in someone.


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RE: You Can Forgive But Not Forget?

I think it was Ann Landers who defined forgiveness as "The scent of a violet on the shoe that just stepped on it and destroyed it. "


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RE: You Can Forgive But Not Forget?

No, not really... and to be truthful, I don't forgive either. I can hold a grudge really well.

Moni


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RE: You Can Forgive But Not Forget?

I can forgive. But...let us say a person burned me with scalding hot water. I am not mad at them anymore because they have apologized and I have forgiven, if they come near me with scalding hot water again I WILL remember the
burn that I had to endure on the first go around. LOL. Fool me once shame on me, fool me twice shame on me. ;)


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RE: You Can Forgive But Not Forget?

Particular incident: I haven't forgiven nor forgotten, but I have eased up on carrying the grudge on my shoulder so it's not so evident. It's still there though.


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RE....: You Can Forgive But Not Forget?

Lordy, I meant to say fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me...Gosh, you would think that George Bush taught me that saying as messed up as I got it. LOL..I laughed when he did not get it right, now I am laughing at myself. LOL!!!


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RE: You Can Forgive But Not Forget?

chi, that helps. To intentionally neglect. I don't have to think it was completely erased from memory; that's too hard to do.


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RE: You Can Forgive But Not Forget?

I"m a therapist and I have observed people removing this burden.... completely. A memory is not a burden if the emotional piece is taken care of.

It has to be done correctly, and with the formula though. It's an amazing process, and it's what motivates me to do what I do. It's awesome.


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RE: You Can Forgive But Not Forget?

Sylvia--my heart goes out to you and your friend/relative. It's unconscionable to victimize the elderly who have reached a place where they cannot protect themselves.

I have no idea how bad your situation is, nor where you are in it--an that's none of my business. But I will say, in our case, our best friends became: a kind lawyer who was an incensed as we were and did a lot of work for MIL pro bono (not that we didn't still end up spending about $20,000 out of our pockets, but that in no way paid what the entire bill should have been), and a wonderful forensic accountant who also went above and beyond--even putting in many Sunday hours for which he didn't charge, and a judge who immediately 'got it' from the paperwork filed and immediately appointed a high-profile elder attorney to look after MIL's interests. And yes, there was a LOT of anger from the 'other side' toward us and those helping us. She's just lucky we didn't pursue prosecution--she'd have ended up in jail for the financial abuse.

My best to you--hang in there, and just keep looking out for that special person. I do understand, though, how heartbreaking the situation you're in is. Good thoughts coming your way.


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RE: You Can Forgive But Not Forget?

Amyfiddler, I took a class when I was in college getting my psych degree called, "The Psychology of Forgiveness". A whole quarter dedicated to the topic. It was fascinating and I'm so glad I chose to take it. Your workshop sounds great!


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