To Delete or Not Delete: That is the Question

Question MarkThe other day, I was going through the texts on my phone. I have the phone set so that it automatically saves incoming texts. I often delete texts that I send right away to save space on my phone. (Believe it or not, I don’t have a smart phone.)  As I was looking at past texts from friends and family, it was interesting to read some of them. Many of them were just logistical; making plans, getting schedules straight and confirming appointments.

Other texts were a bit more personal. As I read through them, I found myself keeping some and deleting others. It made me think about how I decide what to delete and what to keep, and how this decision affects my relationships. For example, if there was a negative interaction by text, should I keep it to remind myself of it (and possibly justify my anger or response), or should I delete that text and save the nice, sweet ones.

I particularly paid attention to the ones from my husband. I found myself keeping the ones that were just “checking in” to see how my day was going, and the ones that were kind and thoughtful. I liked looking back on those and didn’t want to delete them. If there were texts from him or from others that may not have been as positive, I tended to delete those. (Not always, though.)

This exercise made me think of forgiveness in terms of what we decide to keep and what we decide to delete; in other words, what do we let go of and what do we keep to look at again and again. If we keep the negative and look at it often, that is the feeling that stays with us. If we let go of the negative more often and keep the reminders of the kindness and goodness, that is the feeling that stays with us. This, in turn, impacts how we treat the other person.

When I think of forgiveness, I think of it as deleting texts that were sent. It’s like letting go of the negativity or the reminder of a hurt. While I may still think of it occasionally and feel badly, I do not keep it around on purpose so I can look at it and remind myself of how that person hurt me. I do what I can to not “accidentally” re-experience the hurt. I hope that the favor is returned, as I need/hope for forgiveness just as much as the other person! I don’t know about you, but I’ve sent some texts that I wished would be deleted.

Of course, if you find yourself looking through messages and they are consistently mean, negative or cutting, that may mean that the relationship needs some attention. If it is a relatively new or short-term relationship, it’s probably time to end it. You should expect better. If negativity has seeped into your long-term relationship and it’s consistent, it’s time to get some help to improve it.

Next time you are going through “old messages,” whether on your phone or other electronic device, or messages that you go over and over again in your head, consider “deleting” them. Stay focused on the positive, kind messages that come in. Remind yourself of the times when your partner, child, friend or family member sent a text that made you smile and delete the ones that were negative. You may find that you treat them better and feel better about the relationship.

About Anne Brunette, MSW

Anne provides therapy for individuals, couples, families and groups that struggle with a variety of mental health issues. Her specialties include depression, anxiety, grief and loss, marital therapy and education, and family therapy. Her approach is practical and compassionate while focusing on strengths, relationships, and solutions. She believes it takes courage to seek help and respects those who come to her. Anne has a special interest in working with boundary and life-balance issues. She works to help people improve in all areas of life: emotionally, relationally, physically and spiritually. Works at Doll & Associates.

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