Give Yourself Permission to Forget

We’ve all been there: kicking ourselves because we can’t remember someone’s name or an “important” date like a friend’s birthday or anniversary. You might be pleasantly surprised to learn that forgetting isn’t so bad, and can even be healthy for you as you continue your journey to better health and a stronger body.

We’re all under enough stress without adding self-inflicted negative emotions and stress because we’ve forgotten something. The reality is that it’s just not possible for most of us to remember every specific detail of every single day. There are actually some reasons why it’s good to forget things – let some things go – from time to time.

Consider this information as you think about adapting a new philosophy on forgetting: 

  1. Your brain isn’t “made” to remember everything. According to some memory experts, the human brain has evolved to remember events related to your five senses: taste, touch, smell, hearing, and vision.

In other words, if you experienced something while tasting a fine vintage wine for the first time, you’ll likely remember the experience because it’s also connected to one of your five senses.

When you saw the images of John Lennon’s death or Princess Diana’s wedding on television, you can likely remember where you were and whom you were with – emotion plays a big part in memory.

Images, emotions, and experiences are all important when it comes to remembering, and when multiple senses are involved, memory becomes “imprinted” more easily.

  1. Dates and faces will likely be forgotten. You’ll likely only remember things that have relation to one or more of your five senses and that have special meaning to you.
  1. Forgetting can help to “clear” or “reset” your brain. Sometimes, it’s necessary to forget simply to make some room in your brain. Scientists have said that we as human beings do not use our brains to their full capacity, and it takes time to expand that capacity.Imagine that your memory is like a giant file cabinet. When you have too much “stuff” filed in there, it’s much more difficult to find the files you need to reference.

You have a lot of memory and information “files” to sift through – some of it unnecessary detail that does not add to the primary knowledge gained from a specific experience.

When you forget that extraneous information, it’s like taking some of the old, unnecessary files from the cabinet and putting them through the shredder. Then there’s less info to sort through the next time, and there is room to add more significant information.

  1. Some individuals DO remember everything. However, remembering everything isn’t necessarily all it’s cracked up to be. Some people have super autobiographical or photographic memories. These individuals can remember details of everything that’s ever happened to them specifically by day and date. Their memory is like a giant calendar where no event is omitted. Perhaps these people have tapped into an ability to use more of their brain power than others.

However, some people readily admit this is not a good thing because, in addition to the positive, they also remember every detail of all negative situations they’ve been through.

Many acknowledge that it’s quite uncomfortable to never forget when a partner wronged them or a relationship ended badly. Being able to relive every moment of a past trauma isn’t necessarily a positive event, nor would feeling the sadness and pain of loss associated with the death of a loved one from years ago be beneficial.

  1. Forgetting helps you move on. As difficult as it might be, you can give yourself permission to forget about lost love, negative situations, or sadness. If you don’t, it’s very difficult to move on.

Let go of those negative feelings and sadness – memories of your former love, for instance, and make a true effort to forget.

You can act “as if” you are strong and ready to move into the future looking to find another loving, caring partner, and with consistent effort, you’ll find that you are no longer acting, but instead, you are feeling authentic and genuine feelings.

It can be hard to move on – forgetting the negative feelings and emotions will be helpful in resolving past experiences and being open to new, positive experiences.

  1. We forget minutiae – small, unimportant details – every day. If you were able to store every single experience in your memory, your mind would become “clogged” with some pretty unimportant stuff. It’s certainly not necessary to remember every piddling thing that happened the last 24 hours.

Does it really matter what you ate for breakfast this morning or what you wore to work yesterday? When information like that IS important, develop a system for tracking and recording the data – don’t force yourself to try and remember items like that when you can simply recall it. Use a smartphone app or a voice recorder to keep the information handy.

When you accept the fact that your memory is fallible and not yet unlimited, you’ll be a much happier person with a lower stress level. Give yourself permission to forget that which is unnecessary to remember. Acknowledge within yourself that forgetting something is okay. Create an affirmation statement that you can use to help yourself realize that you don’t have to keep EVERY memory.