Forgive and forget. Okay, so that’s two “F” words, but I have your attention now. Alexander Pope has been famously quoted as having said, “To err is human; to forgive divine.” While I can see where he was going with this, I would venture to modify by adding that perhaps to forget is divine. In my experience, both personally and professionally, sometimes it is easier to forgive than to forget.
Relationships are hard. So what I can agree with in the above, is that as humans, we all make mistakes. Sometimes those mistakes are bigger than others. Sometimes those mistakes can irrevocably, either with or without intent, hurt those we love.
How do you heal the hurt and move on? How do you extend that forgiveness and try your best to “forget” or wipe the slate clean? Easier said than done I think. For most relationship issues, the answer is “it depends”. It depends on so many factors: the type of transgression, when it occurred, where or how it happened, how emotionally charged it is, the magnitude of consequences or relational impact, the remorse on the part of the transgressor, honesty, truth, time, and the list goes on.
As we’ve discussed in previous blogs, communication is key relationships. Grudges, lack of forgiveness, and broken relationships are often the result of poor communication, miscommunication, or not communicating at all. Communication is a two way street, so this falls on both sides. If someone has hurt or harmed you, but that person is unaware, then it is unlikely they will seek forgiveness or communicate about the hurt. If you have hurt or harmed someone, but avoid discussing it for fear of discomfort or retribution, then you are likely to lose that relationship or the current status/level of the relationship.
Some tips for communicating those hurts that need forgiven or receiving that forgiveness:
- Feel it: Be honest with yourself first. How does the hurt affect you mentally and emotionally? How does it impact trust in your relationship and what is most difficult for you to move beyond? If you don’t know how you feel about it, then how can you communicate that to another person or say what you mean?
- Talk it: Be honest with the other person about how you feel, what you think, your perspective of the situation and then be ready to hear theirs.
- Do it: Can you forgive/be forgiven? Can you move forward beyond the hurt and continue your relationship as is or does it need to change or potentially end? Make those thoughts and feelings actionable.
Be mindful that it takes time to heal and move on. While certain hurts are difficult to forget, sometimes communicating and offering or receiving forgiveness can help with moving forward in a positive direction. If you seem to be struggling with these two “F” words and fear you may resort to a different “F” word when communicating with a significant other, then I’d love to listen.