The Power of Forgiveness: Is It Easy to Forgive and Forget?

Last Update on June 30, 2023 : Published on July 1, 2023

There’s quite an old saying that goes something like this, “Let us forget and forgive injuries.” In the years, as the world evolved, this saying modified into just “forgive and forget”. In recent times, this age-old saying has come to be associated with how forgiveness should be granted but followed by erasing the memory of the offense committed.

When we look at this from a different point of view, namely human emotions, the question arises; Is it possible to forgive and move on?

For long, we’ve associated the act of forgiveness as an act of affection and love, so is forgetting the offense an act of replacing negative emotions with indifference or is it moving on and allowing the offender to make mistakes?

Can we truly forgive and forget? Is it the right approach for our mental peace and well-being? And if so, how can one forgive but never forget? Let’s find the answers to these questions in this article.

What Does “Forgive But Never Forget” Mean?

But Never Forget

When we say, “Forgive but never forget”, it expresses the desire or the sentiment to acknowledge the act of forgiveness while being mindful of the offense committed. It’s all about focusing on the importance of learning from past mistakes and setting boundaries to protect yourself from future hurt.

Forgiveness, in this instance, is about letting go of the anger, hurt, and resentment that burrows into your heart at the offense committed whereas never forgetting is a reminder to keep the lessons learned from the offense. It says that while you can forgive, it’s important to never ignore the memory of the offense as it serves as a reminder to you about being smart and making better choices in the future.

When you say “I forgive but will not forget”, you imply that you’re aiming for a balance between your healing and self-protection. You have acknowledged that you forgive but you won’t remain naive to the mistreatment or whatever the offense is.

Forgiveness is never easy. It takes a lot of courage and strength to forgive someone who hurts you, but this simple act of forgiveness can unburden your heart from emotional wounds, anger, sadness, and betrayal. When you choose to forgive but not forget, you tell yourself that you might’ve unburdened your emotional baggage, but you won’t be forgetting the experience; the hurt, and what it has taught you.

What you need to remember is that in many situations, it isn’t always easy to “forgive and forget”. You may learn from the experience while others may forgive only to move on.

Is It Possible to Forgive And Forget

This phrase “forgive and forget” suggests that you completely forget the offense or mistake made as well as forgive someone for the same. While forgiveness is your choice, it’s never easy to forget (at least not always).

In reality, hurtful memories tend to stick in our minds at least to some extent. They shape our perceptions, influence our actions and behaviors, and can even play a role in our personal growth and development. Trying to forget a hurtful event can be hard and can even make you either suppress your emotions or numb yourself to them. Any of these acts can have severe implications on your mental well-being.

Trust me when I say this; you can’t always forgive and forget, not for your sake or other people’s. Sometimes, the actions of others will hurt you and you won’t find yourself easily forgetting them and moving on.

Instead of forgetting the hurtful memory, it’s more effective if you focus on the emotional gratification that the act of forgiveness brings. Memories may fade or lessen in their intensity but you can choose to learn from them.

Did you know that forgiveness can help release anxiety, anger, and hurt; according to a recent study? In other studies, it has been found that forgiving someone who hurt you can help reduce depression and anxiety as well as promote physical health. Not forgiving can increase your blood pressure and put you at risk of heart disease.

Are There Any Benefits of Forgiveness?

Yes! There are benefits of forgiveness;

  • It promotes emotional healing. When you choose to forgive, you allow your heart to release negative emotions such as anger, resentment, and bitterness. When you let go of these negative emotions, you take a step toward emotional healing.
  • It reduces stress and anxiety. When you hold onto grudges, it can keep feeding the resentment in your heart, not allowing you to feel at peace. It only increases the risk of chronic stress and anxiety. So, when you forgive, you reduce stress and anxiety.
  • Forgiveness improves well-being. When you choose to forgive someone, it enhances positivity and contentment. So, in the end, you’ll end up happy when you forgive others.
  • It can help you better your relationships. Forgiveness can repair and strengthen your relationships as you learn to let go of past grievances and communicate openly and honestly.
  • Forgiveness can increase empathy and compassion. As you forgive others, you learn to see things from others’ perspectives. This allows you to understand others’ struggles and become understanding of their problems as well.
  • Forgiving others can improve your physical health as well. Studies have shown that forgiveness can lead to low blood pressure, reduced heart rate, better sleep, and a strong immune system.

How to Forgive Without Forgetting?

Forgive Without Forgetting

1.Identify Your Emotions, First

Allow yourself to identify the emotions that you associate with the offense. When you identify what you’re feeling – anger, hurt, betrayal, disappointment, etc. – then you can move on and permit yourself to begin your emotional healing. Just be specific about what you want to forgive the other person for when you begin your healing. Identifying the intent along with emotions is important.

2.Set Boundaries

Forgiveness does not mean that you can disregard your well-being and allow the offense to continue. To forgive without forgetting, you need to set boundaries to protect yourself from future hurt and disappointment. Be firm and clear with your boundaries and ensure that your boundaries and limits are respected by all.

3.Cultivate Empathy And Compassion

When you want to forgive but not forget, empathy and compassion can work as great tools. All you need to do is understand the other person’s perspective. When you are empathetic towards the other person, it can help soften the emotions and foster a connection. This way, you can rest assured that while you’ve forgiven the offense, you are not forgetting it nor are you disregarding the other person.

4.Go From Forgiveness to Gratitude

Another thing that can help you forgive without forgetting is gratitude. Shift your focus from forgiveness to gratitude. Express your thanks for the lessons you’ve learned from the experience and recognize the positive things that happened to you along the way. It’s not always about forgiving and forgetting. Sometimes, it’s about learning from past mistakes and being grateful for what you have.


While the thought of forgiving and forgetting can seem an ideal thought, it’s important to understand that what you experience can shape your identity and teach you lessons you never thought you needed. Know that forgiving can be relatively easy, but forgetting can never be.

Forgiveness is a skill that can help us feel lighter and better; it can improve our mental and physical health as well as promote emotional healing. It’s OK to forgive people but it does not mean that you need to forget what they did or taught you in the process.

We might say, “forgive and forget” but this process requires time, effort, and patience. The best part is that you don’t have to go along with it all alone. With the right professional help and guidance, you can learn to forgive others without forgetting the offense.

In the end, forgiveness is your choice and so is forgetting. Whatever you choose to do, know that it’s your decision and it’s OK.

Let me know what you think about “forgiving and forgetting” in the comments below. Do you truly believe that we can forgive and forget or is it impossible to do so? Share your thoughts below!

About The Author

Swarnakshi Sharma
Swarnakshi Sharma

Swarnakshi is a content writer at Calm sage, who believes in a healthier lifestyle for mind and body. A fighter and survivor of depression, she strives to reach and help spread awareness on ending the stigma surrounding mental health issues. A spiritual person at heart, she believes in destiny and the power of Self. She is an avid reader and writer and likes to spend her free time baking and learning about world cultures.

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