One of our friends wrote me in response to our recent blog post, Forgetfulness. Here’s part of what she said:

“Can you talk more on forgiveness and letting go of the resentment…attached with those memories (of pain, anger, sadness)? Is there even anything more left to be said?”

In part of my response to her I said “…there probably isn’t a lot more to say about it.”

As I thought about it this week, I remembered an earlier blog post we wrote, Families. I think there’s an answer to our friend’s question in that post. Here’s a slightly edited excerpt from the post:

“A few years ago, ‘out of the blue,’ I got a call from Jim, an old childhood friend. We had a nice chat and, as you might expect, we started talking about our families. Jim had an unhappy childhood, and even today harbors hateful feelings toward his father, now long dead

“About the same time Jim and I talked another close childhood friend contacted me. Sara and I had a fun time recalling our younger years together as friends and neighbors.

“Sara grew up in a warm, nurturing family. She spoke fondly of both her parents, whom she loved dearly. They also are long dead.

“Two different people. Two different families. And yet Jim and Sara are brother and sister.”

Because I know Jim and Sara well, I also know Sara has the same childhood memories of their father as Jim does. But Sara, though she knows their family had problems — as most families do, chose to forget the painful, sad memories and remember the joyful, happy memories.

Is that selective memory? Absolutely yes. Is that an answer to our friend’s question. I think it is.

It shows you can freely choose not to focus on the “bad” memories. Then they effectively no longer exist for you. You are beyond their reach. As the ancient Chinese mystic, Lao Tsu, said, “In order to eliminate the negative influences, simply ignore them.”

Do you have painful memories of the long-ago past haunting you today? Please give us your thoughts below.

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