Toxic Family Member, is a term that really jerks us and make us feel that where we are and how should we go with it? The word “family” can bring to mind an array of complex emotions. Depending on your childhood and current family situation, these feelings could be mostly positive, mostly negative, or an equal mix of both.
If you’ve experienced a toxic family dynamic, your feelings may go beyond frustration or annoyance. Instead, interacting with or even thinking about your family might cause significant emotional distress.
Toxic or dysfunctional family dynamics can be hard to recognize, especially when you’re still entrenched in them. Here’s a look at some common signs and what to do if you recognize them in your own family.
Toxic family members might try to control major aspects of your life, including your relationships and career decisions. They might imply (or say outright) that aligning with their expectations is a condition of their continued love and support.
It’s normal for family members to have occasional disagreements. But at the end of the day, you should still treat each other with love and kindness.
In a toxic family dynamic, you might feel contempt or disdain instead of love.
A toxic family member might mock or belittle your choices, attack your vulnerable points and chip away at your self-esteem
Your family may not agree with everything you say or do, but they should still offer love and respect as you find your own path.
There’s no right or wrong way to deal with toxic family members.
Some people choose to cut off contact entirely. Others try to work with the situation by limiting contact with toxic family members and taking steps to protect their emotional well-being when they do see their family.
If you have a toxic background, or if your current family situation has toxic elements, these tips can help you navigate meetings and cope with any challenging or difficult moments that come up.
Team Inspiring Life provides you with 5 steps to handle toxic family member.
5 steps to handle toxic family member.
1. Decide what you want
Identifying what you want from the relationship can help you develop a clearer idea of the boundaries you want to set.
Say you like spending casual time with your sister on weekends, but not when she asks about your love life. You know she’ll share those details with your mother, who will then call to criticize and tease you.
You still want to maintain a relationship with your sister, so one solution might be limiting your visits with your sister to once a month and telling her ahead of time that you won’t discuss dating.
2. Limit your sharing with family member.
You don’t need to share everything with your family. You might find it helpful to keep significant details private from toxic family members who have a history of using them to criticize, mock, or manipulate you.
Before seeing your family, consider reminding yourself of what you’d prefer not to share. If possible, come up with one or two ways to change the subject if needed.
That said, it’s always OK to simply say, “I’d rather not talk about my health/dietary choices/parenting skills/love life,” and end the conversation.
3 Learn when to say no
Setting boundaries for yourself and saying no to things that might compromise those boundaries can help you navigate difficult or toxic relationship patterns more easily.
It’s not always easy to say no to family members. Fabrizio adds, “If you reject any family member’s behavior (no matter how outrageous), you take the risk they may reject you.”
If you know a situation will make you feel unhappy, distressed, or uncomfortable, saying “no” might be your best option. You can explain your reasoning if you want to, but don’t feel like you have to.
A toxic family member may try to persuade or manipulate you into changing your mind. Have confidence in your decision and know you’re doing the right thing for yourself. Family members who love and support you should also recognize and support that need.
4. Don’t try to change anyone
When dealing with toxic family members, it’s not uncommon to hold out hope that they’ll change. You might fantasize about the day they finally realize how they’ve hurt you and get to work on changing their behaviour.
Sure, people can and do change, but it’s beyond your control. Beyond telling them how you feel, asking them to consider your perspective, and encouraging them to talk to a therapist or other professional, there’s not much you can do.
5. Talk to someone
Whether you’re currently entangled in a toxic family situation or working to overcome the effects of a difficult childhood, sharing your feelings with someone can be a big help.
This is particularly useful for maintaining a grasp on reality if toxic family members or upsetting interactions make you doubt yourself.
Working with a mental health professional is ideal, but opening up to a partner or friend can also help. You don’t have to share every detail. Sometimes even giving a general picture of the situation can help you express some of your frustrations and distress.