Forgive then Forget or Forget so you don’t have to Forgive?

For those of you who don’t subscribe to the blog comments here’s

Green Speck‘s interesting comment on my last forgiveness post:

“But forgetting will strengthen the relationship more, don’t you think so?

Mmmmmm, I thought, Interesting question.  Which led me to a bigger question:  Can we ever truly forget?

The mind is a strange and wondrous place.  I believe that EVERYTHING, every thought, feeling , observation, experience the sum total of our life is stored.  Stored in the brain?  Stored in the soul?  Stored in Ashakic records?  Don’t know.

I believe that we can consciously forget small transgressions or hurts (mercifully the older we get the more we forget) but never do we consciously or unconsciously forget a deep wounding or repeated hurts from the same person/source.

“Trauma” memory is stored in the brain for easy retrieval. It is a survival mechanism to remember the growl of a bear so we aren’t eaten.  It’s not a survival mechanism to remember  stubbing our toe in a babbling brook.

Mmmmmm, I mused on.  Which led me to this:

What strengthens relationships is when the “transgressor” admits to his/her role, works on making amends and changes the hurtful behaviour.  This takes time – lots of time to – to do right behaviour over and over and over.  When the trust is broken it is never, in my experience, forgotten, nor should it be.

This is what I tell clients who have been hurt:

You can forgive them for being _______ (stupid, selfish, limited, deranged etc) but do not trust them until they’ve demonstrated trustworthy behaviour consistently for a long time.  

Trust is EARNED through trustworthy behaviour over time.  Ideally their words and behaviour should match.  If there’s a disconnect focus on the behaviour, not the words.  . .   Always the behavior.

Time and right behaviour strengthen relationships.  And don’t forget it!

(of course that’s just my opinion … what’s yours?)