Sunday, December 10, 2006

Forgiving and Forgetting

While reading my recently published pop psych book, Mom and Dad’s Pearls of Wisdom… You Gotta Love ’Em (, a friend called me to talk about her difficulties in trying to forgive and forget. Someone had done something that had hurt her, emotionally. She said that one of the pearls of wisdom in my book had stimulated her thoughts and stirred her feelings. In addition to talking with her about how some of the other pearls of wisdom in my book might be helpful to her, I also suggested she look at an excellent Website for additional words of wisdom (sapphyr). For example, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wisely proffered:

He who is devoid of the power to forgive
is devoid of the power to love.

I shared with my friend that forgetting is putting things behind you; the issues are no longer brought up and no longer remain a barrier to your relationship. Forgetting also is the lack of further discussion, with no ongoing negative references to the event. Forgiving, on the other hand, is allowing the other person to be human – they have faults and sometimes make mistakes or misdeeds. Forgiving also includes letting the other person know that there is no grudge, hard feelings or animosity for any wrongdoing.

Over my years of work as a licensed psychologist, I saw many clients who were struggling with forgiving and forgetting. I frequently would recommend that they read Lewis B. Smedes’ paperback, Forgive and Forget: Healing the Hurts We Don't Deserve (amazon). In it, for example, he discusses the Four Stages of Forgiveness (we hurt, we hate, we heal ourselves, and we come together).

If you are struggling with, or are being haunted by, thoughts and feelings related to having been hurt by someone, work on forgiving and forgetting. Yeah I know – it’s easier said than done. But remember:

Until you can genuinely forgive,
you yourself will continue to suffer.

Forgiving not only can be helpful for the other person, it also can be very comforting and helpful for you.

Peace be with you, Bill

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