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How Do I Forgive If I Can’t Forget?

Forgiving people can be hard. But I’m getting better at it.

I am as Scorpio as they come. I will never forget a single act of kindness performed by someone — no matter how small — but on the flip side, I can never forget the pain they’ve caused me either. Hence forgiveness has always been this angelic buzzword in my life — one with an importance I never questioned, yet I always struggled to implement it in my day to day life. How am I supposed to forgive someone if I can’t forget what they did? More importantly, why should I forgive them? Doesn’t my forgiveness equate to me saying that what they did was okay? These are the questions that have circulated in my mind for years, and it’s only recently that I’ve come to terms with answers that make sense to me.


I now accept that you can indeed forgive someone even if you can’t forget how they’ve wronged you. In fact, I don’t think you should forget. Every person you meet teaches you something, and to forget what they did would mean you also forget the teaching you’ve received — and that’s just silly. As a friend so beautifully described to me,

“Forgiveness is actually selfish. It doesn’t mean you’ve forgotten what happened. It doesn’t even mean you think what happened was okay. It simply means you’re ready to move on.”

Move on. That was it. That’s what made it click for me. I just want to free myself from any negativity that’s following me from my past. Harboring resentment towards someone is too much of an energetic burden to bear because it drains me of my ability to enjoy my present life. So when I forgive, I’m forgiving for my own sake. Forgiving others allows me to genuinely appreciate the role they’ve played in my life, wish them well from afar, and then reclaim my energy and redirect it towards new experiences that make me happy.

And while forgiving others seems doable, forgiving myself always proves to be harder. After all, if I hold others to such high standards, what right do I have to be lenient with my own self? It’s so easy for anyone to sit in a corner and recount past times when they acted in a way that they now wish they hadn’t. But the truth is, you probably did what you did because you only knew what you knew at the time. I’m not trying to justify past actions, but I would say, yeah, go easy on yourself — even if it hurts. Don’t feel like you’re participating in some sort of double standard — once you get more comfortable forgiving yourself, you’ll actually find it easier to forgive others.

But perhaps the most important thing to acknowledge here is that some pain is so deep that you don’t think you can ever find it in yourself to forgive. And that’s completely okay — I get it. As someone who’s still learning how to forgive, I have no right to say you need to forgive as well. But I want you to know that you deserve an abundance of happiness, and I’ve found that forgiveness can help pave the way for that.