My eyes were brimming with tears after I told my classmate how the staff nurse in the ward made me feel like I didn’t know anything. I stared blankly at the white wall of my room, confused and overwhelmed with shame and disappointment.
I failed myself. And I couldn’t believe why I wasn’t able to answer the staff nurse’s question on specific side effects of that particular psychotropic medication. I was still a student nurse that time and I was on my psychiatric nursing rotation.
“Just forget about it,” was my classmate’s advice. I knew she was trying to cheer me up.
“You don’t understand,” I said.
I felt like my classmate didn’t know exactly what I was going through and it seems that my feelings were devalued. She gave me the impression that I was just overreacting and I needed to stop thinking about it.
I am sure everyone has similar story. We’re hurt and people tell us to forget about the whole thing.
Why do we often say that? Forget about it! — As though it’s as easy as forgetting those chemical equations from our chemistry class.
The truth is it is almost impossible to forget the people who hurt us and the painful things they’ve done.
We are wired to store in our memories those experiences that cause intense emotions – which explains why we easily remember the people who made us feel special as well as those who made us feel like we’re a little less than a human being.
Forcing ourselves to forget hurtful experiences doesn’t work in the long run!
What’s my point here?
What we truly need is bring that painful experience into completion.
We need to MOVE ON.
And forgetting is not the way to do it.
It starts by recognizing that we are hurt and vulnerable.
It’s all right to cry if that’s the only way for you to let out of the pain. When we start forcing ourselves to forget, we are attempting to numb our emotions, which halts the process and consequently robs our ability to experience joy and other good stuff later on.
Grieve if you must. But never grieve for longer than what’s necessary.
Easier said than done, I know. But it’s important.
Forgive yourself. Forgive others.
Forgiveness is a decision, not necessarily a response. That means it is not a requirement for the person who have hurt you to ask an apology before you forgive them.
Give it away as though you are doing yourself a favor.
When you forgive, you are freeing yourself from all those negative emotions that make you bitter and grumpy.
Forgiving is not just saying “I’m sorry”.
It is knowing deep inside your heart that you can never change what happened, you have accepted that reality, and you have decided not to get even with that person who hurt you.
When you have done that, you do not have to force yourself to forget. You may still remember it as a painful experience. But you will now be able to say to yourself that it WAS a hurtful experience.
Then you’ll realize you have finally moved on.
And you’ll be much happier.
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