Toxic Family Dynamics: 8 ways To Deal With them?

This article is a continuation of the previous article in which I talked about the traits of toxic family dynamics. These toxic traits include:

  • They try to control you
  • They criticize you unnecessarily
  • Toxic family members abuse you emotionally, verbally, and physically
  • There is a lack of love, compassion, and support
  • Your family doesn’t respect you and your choices
  • They give you a silent treatment
  • A toxic family member envies you and tries to compete with you 
  • A toxic sibling may take the unnecessary side of your parents

These are few of the many traits of a toxic family dynamics, and if you can spot them in your family members, you are indeed a member of a toxic family. 

Certainly, living with toxic people is not easy, even if they are your family members. Sometimes, escaping a toxic family is not an option. So how to deal with negative family members? I am sure it is very hurtful and energy-draining but don’t worry. I am going to help you get through this by sharing some useful strategies that you can implement to get out of this without any damage. 

Learn to say “NO.” to Toxic Family

It is very hard to say no to family members, but standing up to their toxic behaviour and refusing to take any sort of abuse from them can help you navigate through a toxic relationship easily. 

If you reject a toxic behaviour of a family member, there is a high chance they will reject you in return, but you have to take the risk for the sake of your mental health and peace of mind. 

If you feel like a conversation is escalating and is making you distressed or uncomfortable, saying a no to it right away and putting an end to the conversation maybe your best option. Get up and leave. 

Decide what you want to share and what you want to keep private from Toxic Family

It is not necessary to keep your toxic family members updated with every little thing going on in your life, especially when you know they will either criticize you, judge you or mock you. Therefore, it might be helpful to avoid sharing minute details of your life with them.

Before any interaction, remind yourself of the things you can and cannot discuss with them. If you notice the conversation heading in that direction, change the subject or tell them politely that you are not comfortable talking about that topic. 

You don’t have to give unnecessary explanations or access to your innermost thoughts to toxic family members.

Practice Detachment from Toxic family

When you do spend time with family, make sure they don’t drag you into conversations or discussions you would rather avoid. Don’t allow them to involve you into the matters you would wish to keep separate from you. 

Detachment can involve:

  • Keeping conversations light and casual
  • Avoiding the topics that stir up strong emotions
  • Not participating in conflicting situations
  • Ending the conversation or leaving if need be

You can practice this by brainstorming the matters you can discuss and the ones you need to avoid or letting them know beforehand which topics you want to keep personal. Another thing you can do is to ask a question in retaliation when they ask a provoking or prying question.

Set boundaries with Toxic family

People often treat you the way to allow them to treat you. Toxic family members are prone to treat you in a particular manner that can be disrespectful and extremely painful. Still, they will continue to do so unless you set a boundary. 

Setting boundaries with a toxic family is not easy, but you will have to stand firm on your grounds of not allowing them to mistreat you. Setting a boundary means that you will not tolerate any ill behaviour that humiliates you, belittles you, devalues you and makes you feel worthless.

At first, they will try to manipulate you, emotionally blackmail you and try to push your boundaries, but once they feel like you are rigid on your point, they will back off.

Spend less time with Toxic family

Excessive interaction with a toxic family member can be very energy draining. It makes you sick, and you feel bad about yourself. When you don’t feel good about seeing your family, or when any communication churns up negative emotions, it could be an indication that you should limit the time you are spending with your family. 

Spend more time with the people whose company you enjoy. Hang out with the crowd that brings more positivity in your life. Invest time in yourself to become a better person. Read self-improvement books, watch TED talks on YouTube, explore a hobby, workout/meditate, or maybe enrol in a summer course your college/university offers.

Talk to someone

When you are stuck in a toxic family atmosphere or are struggling to deal with the effects of childhood trauma, speaking your heart out to someone can be really helpful. You can talk about your insecurities, and frustrations with your best friend, girlfriend/boyfriend, spouse, or even a mentor. 

It is not necessary to discuss every tiny detail with them but giving a superficial idea can be enough. Lifting the toxic burden off your chest can help you feel better. Your friend or partner might be able to provide you with a wise piece of advice. If not so, having someone to listen to you can be sufficient to lift your mood.

Seek professional help

Growing up in a toxic family can be very challenging for your emotional, mental, and physical health and it might require some professional help. 

For instance, after facing years of manipulation and controlling behaviour, you may lose the ability to make decisions for yourself or feel nervous while making one. You can also experience anxiety and depression. 

Other long term effects of a toxic family environment include:

  • Feeling worthless and low self-esteem
  • Feelings of loneliness and isolation
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Constant feelings of shame, guilt, and valueless
  • Attachment issues
  • Parenting issues
  • Troubled/dysfunctional relationships

Taking help from a professional worker can assist you in figuring out toxic behaviours and how they are affecting you. Once you identify them, you can begin working on the ways to deal with them and recover. 

No contact/Cut off ties with Toxic family

If nothing works out after taking all of the measures mentioned above, it’s high time to go no contact with the toxic family member. Cutting off contact temporarily or permanently depends upon the extent of toxicity they cause in your life. 

No contact can either mean not speaking to them (unless there is a dire need) while staying in the same house or simply moving out if it’s unbearable. 

Tell them clearly that you don’t want to stay in contact with them if they respect it, fair enough. If not, let it be. If your family members have a history of being violent or abusive, you can inform them about your decision over a call, message, or an email. 

Toxic family dynamics can be difficult to identify. However, any behaviour that makes you feel worthless, unloved, and disrespected is probably unhealthy. 

Occasional arguments and disagreements occur in every family, and that is normal. However, if you feel distressed, unhappy, and unstable all the time, it is a big indication of dysfunctional family dynamics. 

Once you have identified that you are a part of a toxic family and it can cause you great harm, immediately start implementing the strategies I discussed above. Seek professional help and cut off all the ties if nothing works out for you. 

Prioritize your mental health above anything and everything!

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