Gestalt Psychology

Forgive And Remember

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The expression ‘forgive and forget’ is a poor way to make amends. It runs against a key psychological principle which is that increased awareness is essential to living a fulfilled life. By bringing the unconscious into the conscious you get to make decisions that are based on what you actually want.

‘Forgive and forget’ means that you have learned nothing from the experience. You end up exactly where you began. You will probably let the same patterns of interaction occur in the future.

From a psychological point of view it makes a lot more sense to use the expression ‘forgive and remember’, or if forgiveness is impossible, ‘remember and move on’. Implicit in both expressions is that you have learned from your experiences.

‘Forgive and forget’ is a popular expression due to a fundamental error in thinking. For many people it feels like remembering past transgressions means holding on to negative feelings that would make a healthy relationship impossible. They think forgiveness is necessary for closure. But deciding not to forgive can create closure just as deciding to forgive can. The key component is the decision. You stop allowing an aspect of your life to be left hanging and you move on. This makes you feel whole and lets you fully commit to your present situation.

Do away with forgive and forget because it keeps you from learning anything or from growing as a person. If you have forgotten past transgressions, you will lack the necessary awareness to put a monkey wrench in instances that lead up to another transgression. Forgive and remember, or don’t forgive and decide to move on.

Greetings I'm Michael, the owner of Evolution Counseling and the author of all the articles on this site. I got my master's degree from Seattle University in community mental heath counseling and have committed myself to advancing my knowledge of psychology and my own theoretical system ever since. The content here represents my personal evolution of thought. I've also become a big fan of photography and I take all the pictures you'll see at the top of articles. We don't advertise to get traffic so this site's increasing popularity is grassroots, it's based on you and people like you deciding for yourselves that these articles are a good source for psychological insight and that they're worth sharing with others.