Three Simple Psychological Steps to Forgive and Forget

Are you a hoarder? You know, one of those people who can never get rid of anything, and has a house full of garbage? You might be, and not even know it. Take a quick check in on your own mind, your own thoughts, and your own emotions. How much stuff in there actually belongs to you? How much stuff are you holding on to, when you know you should let it go? Time for some serious spring cleaning with this forgive and forget method.

 

THREE STEPS TO FORGIVE AND FORGET

Thanks to a study from researchers at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, we’re starting to discover something very cool. It’s actually easier for the human brain to “forget” a transgression after they have already forgiven the transgressor. Not just a fun saying anymore, here is a step-by-step process to scrubbing your negative emotions away.

 

1. Make sure your awareness is at a high enough level to be able to identify and recognize negative emotions and their triggers as they happen.

Once you understand how you are influenced by the world around you, you can go back through your memories and find those ones that still make you angry and frustrated, even years later. Make a list of 5 negative moments you’d like to work on.

 

2. Take that list of 5 negative moments, and write next to them the name of the person, place, or thing you need to forgive.

Sometimes, it’s you. We seem to have the hardest time of all forgiving ourselves. Once you have those things written down, the rest of this process might seem a little silly, but it can be extremely effective. Close your eyes, and picture yourself forgiving every person on that list. Do this three times, and mean it. The only person who is being harmed by your non-forgiveness is yourself.

 

3. Finish this exercise by destroying the written list as a symbol of forgetting.

It might be kind of fun to get creative with this. Don’t just crumple it up! Burn it, tear it apart and throw it off the roof. As you do so, do your best to visualize those memories and negative emotions being destroyed as well.

This is just an exercise, so don’t expect the sky to open up with sunshine and rainbows. But with a little imagination, you might feel a little less weight on your shoulders. Continue to practice forgiveness daily. You can even incorporate it into your journaling process!

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1 Comment

  1. Nic Vermillion

    Reminds me of a story. A man was walking on a beach with his friend. The friend said something that offended the man. So the man grabbed a stick and in the sand wrote: “my friend has offended me this day”. The waves came in and washed away what was written in the sand.
    A little ways down the path, the man slipped on the cliff and his friend grabbed him, pulling him to safety. The man took out a knife and in the rocks carved: “my friend saved my life this day”. And there it remains.
    In short, forgive and forget the bad, remember and cherish the good. Thank you for this article.

    Reply

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