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Sunday, 12 November 2017

NaBloPoMo 2017: Day 12: Forget so that you may Forgive

About two years ago, a little while after I got on WhatsApp, a person I knew long ago, got in touch with me. Let’s call him P. After exchanging the usual pleasantries, he suddenly sent a message that made no sense to me. It said, “You have helped me lot wholeheartedly in my bad times. I’m really sorry for my misbehaviour . I really behaved like mad person with you at the end.”

For a while, I was stunned. Because I couldn’t figure out what P was talking about. I racked my memory, but no answer was forthcoming. But it seemed like a sincere apology, so I decided to not make P feel insulted by saying I didn’t remember. Instead, I told him, “Please don't feel bad for those things now...everyone makes mistakes sometimes...the past is over and i have forgotten all about it...” That last bit was true in every sense – I had literally no memory of the event.

Later, I forced my brain to cough up some faint remembrance. But when things were still hazy, I asked a good friend who has an elephantine memory, if she remembered anything about this. Pat came the entire story along with her shock – how could I ever have forgotten this?

From my point of view, though, I think this is one of my biggest blessings. The ability to forget things that don’t matter. Probably, without my conscious efforts, my brain has evolved a strategy to let go of things that are not important when compared with what it has mapped out as significant goals for my life.

And being able to forget has helped me become more forgiving.

I know, I know…we hear people say things like forgive, but don’t ever forget. I think this is impossible. In the sense that if you can’t forget what ill was caused to you, it will be impossible for you to get to a stage of forgiving that person. But when you train the mind to forget wrongdoings targeted at you in the past, you can no longer hold on to grudges that you have no memory of.

Of course, I agree with those who say forgive but don’t ever forget in the sense of “Don’t forget what you did wrong to elicit a particular behaviour from the other party.” This is vital because you don’t want to go around repeating the same mistakes.

When I try to tell people about the need to forget and forgive, I sometimes get a curious response. They assume I’m telling this theoretically because I’ve never experienced what it is like to be at the receiving end of atrocious behaviour. 

Nothing can be farther from the truth. I too have faced such behaviour, but they probably don’t know about it because I’ve not made it a practice to go around spreading such narratives. For two reasons.

One – the more I talk about negative things, the deeper those get embedded into my mind, and the more difficult it becomes to forget and forgive.

Two – who knows, maybe at some time in the future, the concerned person will change his or her behaviour for the better. Why should I badmouth him or her now and spoil other peoples’ opinions of that person? Why create prejudice that can hamper another person’s opportunity to change?

For me, nothing sums up the whole emotion behind learning to forgive better than this snippet my student Arfa sent. Take a look at it…If a 23-year old can have the maturity for this thought process, why can’t all of us much older people give it a try?

Do what Arfa suggests, right now – think of one person who you think has hurt you the most. Imagine that person standing in front of you and say in your mind to that image, wholeheartedly, with no ifs and buts, “I forgive you from the bottom of my heart for having hurt me.”

Do this a few times every day for at least a fortnight, and you will be surprised at the results you see! You can thank me later 😊


  1. Yess!! True.
    In this way we can also be in peace of mind and away from negativity..

  2. I have been following this for years now....and it works... It's not the absolute behaviour that causes the hurt in the first place, but our response to it that coils up like a servant within and unleashes the negativity....Let go..breathe..,.what I'm a trifle uncomfortable with the technique you have shared is that it focuses on the I...I forgive you..I think the aham (sanskrit for I and ego both...perhaps for a reason)is the root cause of all the sufferings... The moment you acknowledge that it isn't about the I but a larger eco system and the positivity and well being thereof, you've crossed that barrier..

    1. Glad to know that you've been using this principle. Thank you !

  3. Lovely write up!How i wish i have such forgetful nature!unfortunately I hv a pictorial memory too.. and like a movie an incident flashes pleasant(thankfully) and unpleasant both!
    Please share your mantra for such less mortals too!!

    1. Now that's something I must keep for another day. Will share for sure, though!

  4. Replies
    1. You're most welcome, Arfa. In fact, I must thank you for giving your ideas...

  5. Sure madam. Forgiving yes but for me to forget is very difficult.
    Thanks for the article.

    1. Haha..that's okay Sir...different approaches, but ultimately important to not carry the negativity around for long.


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