Monday, June 27, 2011


Are you haunted by past regrets? Do you tend to hold on to grudges? Does your memory of a past event color your future? Maybe you need to work on being a good forgetter!

Blurred Golden Background by Petr Kratochvil

One key to living an intentional life is to choose our focus. We all have memories and regrets that nip at our heels and seem to follow us around every day of our life. Sometimes the way to move forward in our life is by choosing to be a good forgetter.

Michael Jordan had a popular Nike commercial many years ago in which he said: “I missed more than nine thousand shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over again in my life…and that is why I succeed.”

Do you think Michael Jordan dwelled on those times when he missed the game-winning shot? Do you think he allowed his last missed shot to affect the next one he would take?

An aspect of intentional living is learning from our past mistakes – not allowing them to paralyze us with fear.

If you are ready to silence the incessant voices of the past, follow these three simple steps to becoming a good FORGETTER:

1. Make a choice to let go
  • This is such a simple statement, yet this is the beginning point of change. The ability to forget is like a muscle – it requires work to strengthen. Forgetting is a choice. When that thought or memory comes into your mind, you must be conscious of the thought and say to yourself, “Stop. I choose to let this go.” We are much too eager to latch on to any thought that floats through our mind. Make a conscious choice to let it go.
2. Choose your focus
  • Once you have made the decision to not focus on the past memory, you must immediately focus on something positive. For me, this is usually a favorite scripture. However, it might be a quote or a happy memory or a favorite picture. We cannot focus on two thoughts at the same time and that is why this step is so powerful. Choose your focus.
3. Rinse. Wash. Repeat.
  • The first time you try this process, your memory will come right back to mind and may be stronger than it has been in some time. I liken this process to those light fixtures that come with a dimmer switch. Each time that you make a conscious choice to work through this process, the memory fades ever so slightly until eventually it just disappears.
There is no magic formula to becoming a good forgetter – it is a process. But, becoming a good forgetter is essential to living an intentional, conscious life. 

I love this quote by Elbert Hubbard:
“A retentive memory may be a good thing, but the ability to forget is the true token of greatness. Successful people forget. They know the past is irrevocable. They’re running a race. They can’t afford to look behind. Their eye is on the finish line. Magnanimous people forget. They’re too big to let little things disturb them. They forget easily. If anyone does them wrong, they consider the source and keep cool. It’s only the small people who cherish revenge. Be a good forgetter. Business dictates it, and success demands it.”
Question: How do you let go of past mistakes and failures?


Ken said...

So much truth here. I often heard that holding grudges or unforgiveness is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die. So if I am trying to forgive someone or myself, I try to remember that the past can only be beneficial if I move on and learn from it.

Jason said...

I agree. Forgiveness is ultimately more about us than the other person. Thanks for the comment.