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When I forgive someone, should I strive to "forgive and forget' and not hold on to pass mistakes or should I "forgive but never forget" and keep my guard up?

21 Answers
Last Updated: 11/02/2021 at 10:48pm
1 Tip to Feel Better
United States
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Lauren Abasheva, LMHC

Licensed Professional Counselor

A sex positive, and kink knowledgeable therapist with an open mindset and a clear understanding that we are all different.

Top Rated Answers
February 22nd, 2015 1:30pm
The hardest part about pure forgiveness is that you should completely forget about the other's mistake. Once you decide to forgive, you should never by any mean bring up the past again. Do not forgive anyone if you can't let go.
September 15th, 2015 5:15am
you should always forgive people no matter what they have done to you because Christ forgave us while we were the nails in his hand and his feet and we were the thorns in the crown so if he can come and die and forgive us knowing all of the horrible stuff we were going to be doing in our lives, then there is no reason we cannot forgive our parents for punishing us or hurting us amen
March 21st, 2015 6:47pm
The truth is no one can truly forgive and forget, especially if it was something that took a toll on you. In fact, it's good to remember, it signifies that a lesson was learned. You do not have to keep your guard up, it will naturally happen and gets better with time. The good thing is if you learned your lesson, you will better deal with a novel situation, and may even prevent it from happening again. People will let you down or make mistakes, it's how you deal with it that matters.
July 14th, 2015 10:51pm
I think you need to forgive and forget in the sense that you no longer bring up that issue with the person any more. Constantly bringing up the past shows you haven't forgiven the person for their past mistakes and that causes tension. However, you can still forget, but learn from it. Forgive that individual person, but learn from what hurt you and you may be able to forsee it in the future.
July 18th, 2017 2:09pm
To forgive that person, and never forget the lesson learnt, is the way to go being wise, And, it is foolishness to forget the lesson learnt in the process of forgiveness.For example, if we ever got cheated on by someone, it's important to learn the lesson, the lesson can be, taking time to know the person well enough or, it can be ,avoiding blind trust, and following the gut feeling ,so that mistake of past must not get repeat. Bottom line, forgive the person, but never forget the lesson.
June 2nd, 2020 7:37am
i have always been a person who has been forgiving but never forgetting. i never show that to the world but yes it hurts. they think i might have forgotten it and should give them chances but thats not the case. i remember and its difficult for me at times to accept people when i can't forget what they did to me. not forgetting keeps me aware of their past mistakes so if they do it again and agin i know its not good and i should be walking away. because such people are toxic. it does help but hurts too. but that hurt is temporary, the happiness is forever. the inner peace is forever, because you don't have to deal with the same mistakes again. so maybe its worth it. I'm going to always follow this method because it helping me. very person is different and everyone has a different way to cope up with things. this method may or mayn't apply to them. that is completely their choice.
April 23rd, 2015 8:22pm
Striving to forgive seems the more achievable - and more beneficial - than forgetting. I'd go as far to say that the more one strives to forget something, the more one is likely to reinforce the memory than to erase it. Ironically, the act of forgiving is not so much about the other person (ie, the offender) as it is about one's self. It's about acknowledging the hurt, while moving past it as well. To continuously collect and bear the burdens of past ills and injustices throughout our lives is a heavy load we use to punish ourselves. It doesn't even the score and it doesn't shield us from being hurt, though we so often convince ourselves of it's protective powers. We need to develop the skill of learning from past mistakes, betrayals and injuries without letting those memories overwhelm or define us or impede our growth. Lastly, we have to abandon the practice of comparing our pain and suffering with those of others. It's not a competition. One's pain is not delegitimatized because another has endured worse. We all have our issues to contend with and we all need to support one another to heal, adjust and move on.
September 29th, 2015 11:44am
That's a hard one. You do need to forgive and forget and don't hold a grudge. However, be on guard for people who may purposely offend you. Choose your friends and companions wisely .
October 1st, 2015 6:59pm
As clichéd as it sounds, Forgiveness really is a gift we give ourselves. Being hurt or resentful blocks us from being happy and drains us of vital energy. Another Answerer mentioned the importance of 'forgetting' as it relates to no longer bringing the Past to the Present in conversation or through passive aggressive actions, this is a very important piece of the 'forgive and forget' process of healing but it is not the only part. We 'forget' in those physical ways and also in emotional ways. To me, the 'forget' bit means that I no longer have an emotional attachment to what happened. It is simply the story of the Past. I have 'forgotten' the pain when I no longer experience an emotional reaction to the thoughts or the words used to remember or describe the event. This takes time and effort but it is truly liberating. Using wise discretion learned through experience is one of Life's Secrets to Happiness but this is different from keeping a guard up. Everything we experience in Life comes to us through one of two filters - Love and Fear. When we practice Love we use our experiences to make wise decisions for ourselves and others. When we practice Fear by using a guard we become overwhelmed with the desire to avoid pain but just end up shutting out all those beautifully messy opportunities for Growth and Happiness. Keeping our eyes open and our Heart healthy is the only guard we truly need. Best Wishes, Shh
June 23rd, 2015 12:07pm
When in need for forgivness, it means that you're deeply hurt and unfortunetly speaking of personal experience no matter how hard you tried you cannot forget. The pain will fade eventually i'll guarantee that, but try turning the pain into power and just learn from it!
July 28th, 2015 10:17pm
In my experience, it totally depends on the situation. Forgiveness is for me, not necessarily to mend a relationship with the person I am forgiving. So, if I have forgiven someone for a small transgression, it might be appropriate to forgive and forget - or at least show a little grace. I try to put myself in the other persons shoes and typically that leads me to more kindness and compassion along with forgiveness. Now, It can also be appropriate to keep my guard up in scenarios that present danger. So, if I find myself in a dangerous situation and it involves another person - I'll forgive them and keep my guard up for my own safety and protection against future serious harm. Forgiveness is a wonderful thing - it brings us peace. I think we can all practice it with grace and kindness, while keeping our guard up - or stated another way - being aware of potential danger- when and if necessary. I usually ask myself two questions: How would I want to be forgiven, and Is this something that I am ok with happening again?
September 7th, 2015 5:10pm
I forgive not for the other person i forgive for my self because holding on to that anger makes me a person i dont like very much but it takes me a long time to get to that place if some one has hurt me badly!
September 17th, 2015 4:50pm
I personally dislike the statement "forgive and forget". Because it's really impossible to completely forget what had happened to you. Whatever the mistake was, a person is more likely to be more aware and careful around other people, especially the person who caused the distrust. I think learning from mistakes is the best idea and keep your guard up slightly, but not to the point where you can't trust anyone. :)
November 3rd, 2015 9:34pm
People say it's always best to "forgive and forget" but I find that you should forgive, but don't forget what that person has done. If they are truly sorry and continue to be the person they were before (everyone makes mistakes, right?) then maybe then you can start to let your guard down, but it all depends on the situation at hand in the end.
July 4th, 2017 1:12pm
Forgiveness and reconciliation are two separate things. Forgiveness must be done for you alone, whether or not the offender is even sorry. Forgiveness sets yourself free and releases you from the burden of bitterness, anger or contempt. Reconciliation, however, does not automatically take place with forgiveness. For reconciliation to occur, the offender must be genuinely sorry, and then prove themselves with their actions, earning your trust back over a period of time. For the offenders who are not sorry, or who do not earn your trust back, you may need to distance yourself from that relationship. But still, always forgive them for your own sake.
May 13th, 2015 5:19pm
That is up to you to decide. It depends on your relationship with that person, what their trespass was, & what your feelings are regarding that person & their actions. True & honest forgiveness is the more important step here; only then can you move on, heal & repair your relationship (if you so desire). Whether or not you decide to "forget" their actions is more a matter of your own thoughts & feelings about the issue at hand.
June 7th, 2015 12:52pm
I think forgive but never forget is a better option . It appears sensible choice in all ways. And I think it does not affect the future in any negative way.
October 11th, 2016 1:53pm
You should forgive someone completely but I would recommend being aware of what the person is capable of!
November 13th, 2017 12:09pm
It's important to learn from experience. Not forgetting will help you to learn, but may also keep you fixated on what once was. Forgiveness and acceptance are key to moving on from a situation.
November 29th, 2020 3:21pm
Well, just to establish this in the very beginning of my answer, forgiveness is something that has to be earned for it to have any meaning. A person who chooses to give away forgiveness without any standards is just as wrong as the person who demands unearned forgiveness from someone. The saying "forgive but don't forget" is merely the acceptance of the fact that words alone shouldn't be enough to grant someone forgiveness, and that someone's words have to be backed up by consistent actions in accordance with one's promise to make changes for the better as far as one's character is concerned.
November 2nd, 2021 10:48pm
I think this is dependent on the context and your personal feelings. In my opinion, you can’t force yourself to forget something, and sometimes having your guard up is self-preservation. But I do know that some find it helpful to forget and that it can provide a sense of peace. Personally, I tend to be guarded and assume the worst, which admittedly has had it downsides, such as struggling to build friendships and the mental toll of worrying about people’s true motives. Overall, I think it makes sense to take things at your own pace, and if you reach a place where you feel letting go of past mistakes would provide you with a sense of closure, for example, then go for it. However, I don’t think you should feel bad if you can’t do that right now.