Bits of Life Missed Worth Exploring

The Many Sides of Forgetting


Forgetting is something we are all familiar with.

What is fascinating about forgetting is how it can be viewed in so many different ways. Ways that can either help or hurt us. How it changes, becomes important to better understanding the full nuance & texture of life.

“To love until insanity” a good friend shared with me during a discussion of what it means to love unconditionally. To love unconditionally requires us to forget how others have hurt us in the past.

Forgetting here is like a glue that pieces together fragments of our precious relationship we now seek to repair. It also serves as an eraser, leaving only good thoughts in our heart with which to embrace our fellow human.

For radical change in an organization or our own lives, many times we need to forget what we know in order to see what may be possible. Exploring options without judging them against the past is key for this to generate positive outcomes.

Others sometimes view our forgetfullness as a fault. They can’t trust us to finish something they have asked us to do. Forgetting dissolves the trust that the other person has in us because we let them down.

Forgetting is sometimes used as our excuse for not really wanting to finish something. It keeps the pressure off us by not having to be honest with others.

At its extreme form, our constant display of forgetfulness leads others to stereotype us as an idiot or as an “absent minded professor”. This creates low expectations of us in others. Leaving us behind or out as things change.

To forget can also be very helpful to keep our minds uncluttered. Forgetting “stuff”, especially from the past, sometimes protects us from the memory and hurt of a bad situation.

Other times, forgetting allows us to better focus on what is important to us in our own lives today. Forgetting all of the stress and pressures for a while. Giving us more time to focus our attention on the present and what we can do now. It can serve us well as a temporary delete button with respect to the many mindless routines in our lives.

Forgetting “in the moment” can be a very selfish act. Sometimes our selfishness can be good if it means that it propels us past our own self pity to get our lives back on track after a tragic event or series of events (divorce, death, severe illness, bankruptcy) to re-engage with life.

Forgetting “in the moment” can also be bad when it comes to doing something that doesn’t match up with the values we have been taught. When we do something and forget what the consequences will be by our actions.

Fascinating, isn’t it, that even though we all know what it means, forgetting and to forget can act in very different ways. While we don’t think about forgetting very often, it’s interesting to see all the ways it can change in our own lives.

Bits of Life Missed Worth Exploring


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