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The human capacity for forgetting is ignored, overlooked and… quietly forgotten.

We are blessed with the ability to forget things. It’s a gift, but we often overlook its central importance in how we function. The list of things that any single individual has successfully forgotten by the time they reach adulthood is almost without limit. Its a tremendous feat, yet we don’t recognise that or celebrate it.

Remembering gets a lot of attention, some people have built entire careers around it. Books and courses on how to retain and recall information are always popular and we marvel at feats of memory. Failure to remember, by contrast, is generally seen as failure of the individual in some way.

I am not saying that we should applaud forgetfulness where it leads to error of neglect, any more than we should celebrate remembering where it leads to, say, prolonged bitterness or revenge. But forgetting clearly has its uses, and if we thought more about it perhaps we could apply it selectively to help ourselves and others.

The ability to forget is a gift that we generally fail to unwrap. If we could remember to forget more often it might free us up for other things.

 

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