Forgiveness is the answer to family problems.

Lately I’ve been working on getting negative feelings out of myself. It is a difficult thing to do; especially when you have to regularly listen to other people’s negative rants. We have a commandment to give forgiveness to everyone, and it’s also important for people to express their feelings. Still, when conversations are just going downhill, sometimes it’s best to just stop, give everyone time to cool off and try to deal with the issue later from a different perspective.

In our families, this can often be an ongoing struggle as well. We often get stuck in negative thought pasterns that trick us into projecting
our own feelings on others; instead of taking ownership of them. Trying to let it go of those feelings, and preventing other people’s problems from become our own is extremely difficult. Especially when the other people are very important to us.

Lately I’ve found the key to getting negativity out of myself seems to do with forgiveness. Forgiveness is not for the person you are forgiving, it’s to help you get the negative feelings out of yourself. When we truly forgive, we are giving ourselves permission to let go of the past, and move forward with a new perspective.

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What should this new perspective be? I’ve found it’s much better in the long run to show love and understanding; especially to those you are close to, despite how hard it sometimes is to do so. Often the hardest person to forgive is ourselves, and until we can do that, forgiving others will continue to also be difficult.

In a recent conference talk  gave an example of this by talking about a woman who kept finding fault with her husband:

“in an effort to help her husband understand how she felt, she began to keep an electronic list on her phone of things he did or said that irritated her. She reasoned that when the time was right, she would have compiled written proof to share with him that would make him want to change his ways. However, one Sunday while partaking of the sacrament and focusing on the Atonement of the Savior, she realized that documenting her negative feelings about her husband was truly driving the Spirit from her and was never going to change him.”

You’ll never get anyone to change in a positive way by beating them down with negativity. In fact, trying to forcefully change others never truly works, and often backfires. The only person we can be certain to change, is ourselves. We can then use our improved example to help others realize things they may want to change within themselves as well. Just as the Lord told Alma:

“Go forth … and establish my word; yet ye shall be patient in long-suffering and afflictions, that ye may show forth good examples unto them in me, and I will make an instrument of thee in my hands unto the salvation of many souls.”