You Have to Remember to Forget

November 7, 2016

Everybody tries to forget past events, but in order to close the door on that pain, it has to be remembered. Rather than completely forget what happened, you have to integrate it into your life, with all the benefits that it brings.

Every process we go through in life implies change, which involves doing all kinds of painful things. Change involves loss, goodbyes, pain, and resignation. It seems almost natural to try to avoid it and leave it out of your story, but this will only drown you in sufferingbecause you’d be trying to fight a lost battle.

Given that pain is a part of life, it has an important role in our own personal growth. Pain not only helps us to change and accept the inevitable, it also prepares us to incorporate new valuable and meaningful experiences into our lives.

Accepting the transformation of pain doesn’t mean you have to forget; it means you have to integrate it, so that you can be reborn in every stage of life.

Forgive rather than forget

Forgiveness puts incessant fighting, resentment, blame, and contempt to rest. With forgiveness comes acceptance, which closes the door on pain. This is common in heartbreak; people try to forget before they forgive, and that’s what prolongs the poisonous pain.

Forgiveness requires acceptance in order to learn from the experience and incorporate it into your personal development. It’s a process that brings you closer to peace and a clear conscience. The path to forgiveness is comparable to that of love, because you need love to forgive.

setting birds free

You’ve probably heard the following famous saying on more than one occasion: time heals all things. This is mistaken, because time per se doesn’t heal anything, it’s what you do in that time that helps you mature, learn, and grow inside to resolve your conflicts and difficulties.

“One can only forget about time by making use of it.”

-Charles Baudelaire-

Learning to say goodbye

Saying goodbye is inevitable in life. You’ll have to say many significant goodbyes, both to people (breakups, people moving away, deaths, etc.) and to circumstances (jobs, health, the diagnosis of an illness, unfulfilled expectations, ending stages, children getting older and moving out, etc.).

Every period you go through, you leave behind things you can’t get back. We need change to be able to keep moving forward. That’s how we learn to say goodbye, knowing that every meaningful interaction has left a mark on who we are today.

woman walking down country road

During painful times, especially if it involves a partner, it’s best not to have things that remind you of that person in plain sight. This way, it’ll be easier to move on. Once you’ve overcome the pain, you’ll realize that the memories of that person don’t affect you or stir your emotions anymore.

“O, teach me how I should forget to think!”

-William Shakespeare (Romeo and Juliet)-

Live in the present without forgetting the past

One of they key principles of well-being involves how you face the present. The past can’t be changed, controlled, or modified. The only thing you can control is your own attitude about how you’ll face your past in the present.

Your job is not to forget the past, nor the people that were important to you, but rather to integrate all of those experiences into the present and learn from it.

Being mindful of who you’ve been and what you’ve experienced, both the good and the bad, will allow you better know what you want in the present. Your vision will be clearer and wiser when you integrate all of your experiences.

“Wanderer, the path is your fingerprint
and nothing more.
Wanderer, there is no path,
the path is made by walking.
By walking you make the path,
and when you look back,
the path looks like it never
should be retraced.
Wanderer, there is no path
but rather ripples in the sea.”

-Antonio Machado-

Missing Is More Than Just Remembering