Is forgetting bad?

One of the incredible qualities of living a healthy life is the strength to forget
Representational Image
Representational Image Flickr/ Martin Stær Andersen (Creative Commons)

Do you remember having eaten almonds to improve your memory and cognitive abilities? To many of us, it is a memory from childhood wherein we are given almonds, especially during exams with the ambition to develop a robust memory which might help us perform better.

However, while looking at the flip side, it has been observed that the ability to forget is what constitutes a sharp and healthy mind. Through experiential understanding, one realizes life is neither black nor white but grey.

Some memories and myths hold us back and influence the delicate balance between forgiving and forgetting. 

Therefore, it is significant to question that while laying all our focus on improving memory, are we at risk of overlooking the art of letting go?

Various self-help books and guides, talk about improving and sharpening cognitive memory for enhancing intellect, being sharp, accurate and responsive amongst the crowd and in the face of competition.

This perspective on human memory is just one of the implications of the vast functions of the human brain. The act of forgetting is one of the features of our cognitive aptitude.

Research describes forgetting as an ability that is crucial to the performance of the human brain. In life, there might be countless things that we desire to forget. Starting from moments of severe embarrassment to possibilities in the future that stress one out.

Forgetting can be frustrating at times yet, it can be perceived as a blessing in disguise. It expands the ambit of knowledge. One’s thinking becomes more comprehensive and one learns to be composed.

In a way, almost all the virtues, vices, and subjectivities of mental and ethical life may be explained in terms of two opposite shades of memory which are - forgetting and remembering. Beginning with innate human nature which is to worry, it can be taken as the helplessness to forget the uncertainties of life.

Selfishness is failing to recall others in an over-remembering self; pride on the other hand reflects the consciousness of making high standards apparent in one’s actions. Anger is the hot vapors from an over-boiling memory; jealousy goes down to forgetting one’s own possessions in over-remembering those of others.

While attributes like patience can be referred to as forgetting the challenges on the way and being mindful of the goal. Finally, the most rejoiced feeling of humankind, love can be understood as the heart’s sweetest memories cherished in others.

Every element in the Almighty’s vast circle of creation has its own purpose and tampering with the same can lead to limiting the potential of the predefined purpose along with creating hindrances for destiny. Accordingly, every feeling embedded in human beings can be regarded as right and valuable when balanced well within the extremes and matched as per the situation.

One of the incredible qualities of living a healthy life is the strength to forget. It unfolds the path to one’s peace of mind. However, there remains a doubt about the same in the hearts of many. For this, one must wait till the end, rather than losing one’s mind, it is a marker of maturity to be able to forget.

It acts as the wise person’s eraser, discarding unwanted tunes from the song of life. Thus, being forgetful should not be comprehended as a human error totally. At various crossroads of life, it achieves the virtue of being a human healer.

At times there are situations where people are advised to forget, ignore and move on while for the person who is dealing with the harshness of his/her circumstances, such an immediate response might be a sort of dilemma. The ability to detach from something or someone ranges with diverse behaviors of people.

Nevertheless, one’s patience and strength can make him/her competent enough to do the same. Time, as well as endurance, are responsible when it comes to such an action. With the passage of time, patience unfolds, advancing one’s emotional and psychological equilibrium; simultaneously restoring an individual’s tranquility and acceptance.

Whether it be good or bad memories, when time passes, it all becomes precious memories. One cannot return to the good times, but better times will come. New memories will be made. This is how forgetting actually acts as a boon; it delicately replaces one memory with another, with a stronger and livelier one.

To foster this process, it is necessary that one responds and interacts with the rest phases of his/her life so that he/she can build concentration and give deserved space to the upcoming chapter. Subsequently, the impressions of the former get neutralized and fade out, to start with a clean slate.

All in all, one can be better off by having confidence in the charms of time and continuity of life as it embraces everything wonderfully, especially when one goes into partnership with them.

Shristi Gupta is a post-graduate student of Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.

The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.

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