A little phrase that causes a lot of trouble is "forgive and forget." I'm not a fan at all. My dog teaches me a very simple lesson about that, because animals offer unconditional love. They get hurt but they learn the lesson, forgive, and move on. If I'm out walking with Indiana and he keeps walking in front of me, there's a very good chance his foot will get stepped on. He learns the lesson, forgives, and walks alongside of me. But he doesn't forget! He remembers that if he walks in front of me his toes will get smashed!
We can take a lesson from this. If forgetting serves us well, then we will forget in time, easily and effortlessly. However, if the words or deeds brought a lesson that we can use, by all means, keep them in your memory. For instance, if words spoken to me were hurtful for the simple reason that a person has their own "stuff" to deal with, then I will likely remember and not put myself in a position to be hurt by them again. However, if the words were true and helpful, I may well remember them, learn from them, and recall them when they are again helpful. Forgive, yes; forget, only if it serves your best and highest good.
So, let's talk about forgiveness. First and foremost, offering forgiveness is not--absolutely not--condoning the behavior which offended or hurt you. That's really important, so I will repeat it. Forgiving does not mean saying that what occurred was all right! What forgiveness means is that you no longer feed energy into the pain, hurt, and resistance, and that you allow healing to begin.
Sandy Walden is a holistic life coach, business coach, Reiki master and teacher. She lost her son, Mike, to suicide in December 2010. This is an abridged version of a longer piece Sandy wrote on forgiveness. You can read the entire post here.