How To Make Someone Forget Something Instantly

By Toni Hoy

Updated March 25, 2020

Reviewer Elizabeth Strong

Sometimes we slip up and say or do something that we wish could be forgotten. We immediately regret it and want to take it back, but the damage is done. And then we agonize over what happened and want to do anything to fix it or make them forget it. Although you can't entirely erase a person's memory, you can distract them from the event and interfere with their ability to hold on to that memory, preventing it from becoming an issue.

People tend to hold on to hurtful or negative memories more tightly than pleasant ones. It's unfortunate, but it is our way of avoiding being hurt again in the future. Whether you want someone to forget a negative or positive event, you can use these tips for how to make someone forget something instantly.


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How To Make Someone Forget Something Positive

While it may be that we haven't done anything wrong, we may have our reasons for wanting to make someone forget something. You may want to make someone forget about an exciting event that is coming up. Perhaps you have a surprise for them, and you want to make them stop thinking about the special date. One thing to do is clear away any visual reminders of the event. Don't write it on a shared calendar and put away objects that are related to the occasion.

The other person may still be thinking about the upcoming date, depending on how excited they are. If they bring it up to you, you will need to switch topics without making it obvious that you are avoiding the subject. Here are some tips:

  • Excuse yourself to go to the restroom or take a break. When you come back, ask a question about a new topic. It makes it easier to subtly change the subject when the conversation has been paused than to do so in the middle of talking.
  • Join others in the conversation if you're in a group or public. The more people taking part in a conversation, the more likely it is to veer off topic.
  • Make your new topic sound related. Pick a small detail from the other person's statement or question and tie it into a different story or point.
  • Move. Pick up your stuff and move to a different space, inviting the person to come along. Often, new surroundings can distract from what was being discussed previously, opening the door for you to talk about something else.
  • Be honest. Sometimes all of the above tactics will fail and you will be unable to dodge a discussion about the upcoming event. If this is the case, ask the person, politely, if you can talk about something else. Explain that you are excited by how excited they are, but that you want to keep the specifics to yourself so that they can continue to enjoy the anticipation as well as the surprise that will come when the day arrives.


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How To Make Someone Forget Something Negative

Just like making someone forget a positive event, making them forget a negative one is also about distraction. The best thing you can do is to attempt to make the unpleasant memory less prominent in their mind by changing the focus to more pleasant topics. For instance, if you hurt someone's feelings, you can make an extra effort to do something nice for them to get them thinking less of the negative memory of you.

The longer you replace that negative memory with more and more positive ones, the more the bad memory will fade. You can use these tips to help the hurtful memory fade from the other person's mind:

  • As with erasing positive memories, you can facilitate the forgetting of a bad memory by removing objects that trigger the topic.
  • Remind the person of a pleasant part of the bad memory. Perhaps if you analyze the situation together, it isn't all that bad. You may be able to get them to associate the memory with something positive.
  • After you distract from the negative memory, start building new positive memories.

Sometimes, the person may not be able to forget. They may hang onto what you said or did or didn't do, and you fear that you'll never move past it and get your friendship or relationship back on track. If you find that this is the case, here are a few more tips to help you amend the situation:

  • Apologize. This is the most simple and yet the most effective way to get someone to forget something negative. Tell him or her how sincerely sorry you are for what happened and that you want to make it right and get back to how things were between you before the incident occurred. If you are genuinely sorry, he or she will be able to feel that and hopefully understand that people make mistakes and that you didn't intend to hear him or her.
  • Explain yourself. Let the individual know what your intentions were behind what you said or did. If you truly didn't mean to hurt him or her, it should be apparent. And if you explain this and he or she doesn't come around, it might be time to let it go for a bit.
  • Drop it, for now…If he or she is still angry after you've tried all of the above, take a break from trying to make it right and give him or her some space. It might not be the right time to discuss it and doing so could fracture your relationship even more. Some people just need a breather to reflect and process things and can make a more informed decision once they've had time to cool off.


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There are many reasons why we might want someone to forget something we have said or done. And since it's not possible to control someone's mind, it can be worrisome that they may not forget so easily. People tend to hold onto things they are excited about, as well as things that affect them negatively. Hopefully, some of these ideas will help you to do some damage control and keep your relationship moving forward in a healthy direction.

If this isn't the case, it could be time to ask someone for help. Someone impartial that can offer you a different perspective regarding what is going on. Or some fresh ideas about how to keep someone from overthinking something positive.Because causing either type of memory, positive or negative, can have a lasting impact, one that you did not intend.The good news is that you can get help, learn to forgive yourself and rebuild your relationship with the other person by talking to a professional therapist. Online therapy is a great way to work on your interpersonal relationships. With the help of a therapist, you'll learn to let go of past hurts, forgive others and yourself.


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