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Forget and forgive

There will be times when you forget something you’ve always remembered. You may forget to pay a regular bill on time or wish a loved one a happy birthday. You may forget someone’s name or a key ingredient in a recipe. Perhaps you forgot to bring your grocery list or that your gas tank is low as you head out with no time to spare to get to an important meeting. Or you just forgot the meeting altogether.

We all forget things. Big and small. Consequential and insignificant. It happens. There are often reasons why we forget. Explanations that make sense. And, sometimes, inexplicably, there are not. Simply put, I forgot.

The thing about forgetting is what happens next. Once the forgetting is remembered you are playing a game with an opponent who has left the field. It’s done. Over. But a new opponent steps into that space – guilt. And that game can go on a long time, a very long time. There’s only one way you can win, and that is to forgive yourself.

You can learn from the past (whether the past is a moment or a lifetime) or not. You always have that choice. If you’re like me, it takes several – okay, sometimes many – acts of forgetting before you figure out a better way. You can do that. That is always an active choice. What you cannot do is change the past. Learning to let it go without guilt or shame or blame or rumination will help you move on to a happier, more content present. This can be hard to do – guilt comes in all strengths and sizes – so get some help if you need it. We are able to let go of some oversights more easily than others.

As you go through your days, when you forget something, you can make amends, and learn or improve a technique to avoid or reduce future forgetting. You can always, and only, change yourself. You cannot change others or their opinions. Your choices are in the future. Your mistakes are in the past.

Forgiving yourself is in this moment.


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