“You can choose your friends but you sure can’t choose your family.” A time comes in most people’s life when this Harper Lee’s quote hits right home. While it is easier to cut it off with a friend if they turn toxic, it’s so much harder to say goodbye to a family member for good. One way or another, you will have to meet them and ignoring their toxic behavior might not be the best way to deal with the situation. You need to learn how to deal with your family even if their certain behaviors are not so acceptable to you. There ways to handle toxic family members who are driving their negative energies towards you.
10 Ways To Handle Toxic Family Members
1. Don’t take their behavior personally
The first thing you need to consider when dealing with a toxic family member is that their behavior has nothing to do with you. Just like the bully from your high school, their target is everyone. The issues are theirs’s and not yours. Therefore, if you find yourself under a personal attack from them, do not take it personally.
2. React and assert yourself but wisely
Knowing that it is not about you, does not mean you can let them walk all over you. You must react to their injustice and make it clear despite being a family member, they have to respect you like any other person.
3. Counsel and discuss
Many times, there are issues in a person’s life that make them bitter and difficult to live with. While it could be a challenge to be patient with such people, the good news is that counseling and discussion can resolve the problem.
4. Forgive and forget
If a particular family member treats you badly but then asks for forgiveness, you must give them another chance. Nipping the arguments into bud makes life easier specially for a family living together after all you are bound by not just blood but love of a family that you can count on at the end of the day.
5. Build some boundaries and limits
This is perhaps the most important advice when dealing with any toxic person let alone a family member. There should always be healthy boundaries to work around in relationships. Spend time together, lend your ear to each other for every issue but assert to them how much you value your personal space and time.
6. Let them know there will be consequences
Make rules concerning their behavior. For example, let them know that if they crossed the line one more time, you won’t support them either. This way they will know there will be consequences to their unjustified liberties with you.
7. Identify what makes them happy
Find out about their interests and join them in those activities. This will give you something to talk to them about other than your differences.
8. Do what makes you happy
Know what makes you happy. If your time with your family becomes too much to handle, turn to your hobbies and interests to refresh your mind.
9. Spend some time in a nurturing environment
Make friends and acquire the company that nurtures you and encourages you. This will have a positive effect on you psychologically.
10. Finally, do not keep it all in
There will be some points where you will have to assert yourself. Do not let them take your politeness for weakness. Do not keep it all inside and burn you!
In the interest of honesty, I can say that I’ve tried these ways to handle a particular member of my family. None of this worked. I’ve had to cut off this person – possibly for life. The bottom line is to try to work it out, but build boundaries and take your own welfare in the process as well.
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Sometimes you just need to draw boundaries when nothing helps.
Yes, we need to learn to do this!
Corinne Rodrigues recently posted..Practices To Improve Your Intuitive Abilities
This certainly can be a tricky situation at times Corinne – more often than not the ‘offending person’ is not a blood relative but married/partnered to one.
Family gatherings often see these conflicts come out into the open…..this year we may be limited in the number of people who can gather so I wonder if it’s going to be a ‘forgive/forget – ignore the person’ time to be able to see the related loved family member.
Cathy recently posted..Is it just me
Yes, if we’re lucky we can ‘blame’ our spouse about her/his relatives that are causing strife. Much harder when it’s our own kin.
I guess one of the upsides of this pandemic for many people is that they can safely avoid family gatherings during the holiday season.
Corinne Rodrigues recently posted..Sleep Guidelines and Exercise Tips During Lockdown
#4 is especially important. Love these tips for dealing with difficult family members. Thank you!
Yes, though it’s easier said than done. But important to do for our own sanity.
Corinne Rodrigues recently posted..Do You Practise Self-Care?
Leanne | www.crestingthehill.com.au
Corinne these are fantastic tips. As you know, I left my job due to a toxic work colleague and a lot of these points apply directly to how I could have dealt with her better – trying to fix her rather than trying to protect myself through boundaries and recognizing her issues, would have been a better way to go. I also have a very difficult brother (he’s bitter and a bit of a bully) realizing that’s also not my issue (it’s his) helps me maintain the relationship from a safe distance. I’ve pinned this x
Leanne | http://www.crestingthehill.com.au recently posted..SUNSHINE, LOLLIPOPS AND RAINBOWS – WHAT’S MAKING ME HAPPY #3
Somehow we’re in synch, Leanne. After many years, I’ve finally had the courage to let go of my relationship with my brother. It’s sad, but I’m so done with the gaslighting and the subtle manipulation.
Corinne Rodrigues recently posted..5 Benefits of Mindful Living
Drawing boundaries helped me a lot and for a couple of family members when nothing else worked, as you said, I had to cut that couple out of my life. It hurts sometimes but overall there is so much less tension.
Oh I agree, Sunita. The worst is when people like this act so offended about us keeping them far or cutting them off!
It is so tough dealing with such relatives! Things can get pretty ugly if one doesn’t take a stand against it. Creating distance is the only way to stay away from all the toxicity and find ones peace of mind.
Lots of wisdom here, as usual, Corinne. Great post. I have been off catching up with myself, work wise and family health issues. Getting back on track. In terms of the post, I was surprised, but grateful years ago when our pediatrician very quickly urged us to limit time with my husband’s family because of the effect they had on him. (x-husband), when our first child was born. Not sure it worked, but her rx was certainly surprising.
Anne from AnnesHappyClues
Hi Corinne, it’s incredible how your post came to me with such perfect timing. I am currently building firmer boundaries with a few toxic family members and yet, I’m amazed at how much judgement I often get from people. Interestingly, it’s often people who haven’t done any work on themselves. I feel huge empathy for them and their struggles too. Thank you for your reminder that I’m on the right track though 🙂
Anne from AnnesHappyClues recently posted..3 Easy ways to Manage yourself for Healthy Sleep
Good ones, Cory. I would make point 2 “Respond” and not react.
Reactions can be toxic I believe. Responses can me more thought through and calculated.
What do you say?
And so essential to draw boundaries and remind ourselves what they say and do has nothing to do with us, rather it has more to do with them, and who they are. Their opinions/reactions about us does not define who we are at all.
A very helpful post. I have toxic relatives in my family and my husband’s. Coping is an ongoing process… I think no5, keeping boundaries, is vital, but not as easy as it seems. Some books are helpful such as ‘Will I ever be good enough’ by Karyl McBride and ‘Rethinking Narcissism’ by Craig Malkin. There are also some great youtubers giving useful tips and information, such as Rebecca Zung.
These are all great tips. I had to learn not to hold it all in, as I seem to do that with a lot of things. And it’s very unhealthy. Your suggestions are all so helpful!
Very helpful tips, Corinne! Agree with all the points. Frankly, it has been quite a struggle for many for having to put up with toxic family members, confined indoors, for months, without an end in sight! Challenges need proven strategies to help people cope with them and I’m sure someone somewhere will benefit hugely from these pointers.
All of us have difficult people to handle, at work and at home. I am no exception. The tips you have mentioned are quite interesting. And some of them I have been applying. At the end of it all, it’s our happiness and well being that matters.
Point No 8 is what I do (foremost) Hobby is what keeps one going. It always reminds me of what Pu La Deshpande said “work to have a steady income but nurture a hobby which will enrich your mind”
Joe recently posted..Garden after rains
Sensible tips to deal with toxic family members, Corinne. But sometimes none of these tips work, that’s my personal experience. When the relation is very close it’s impossible to cut them off or follow any of the tips. The only thing that works then is to accept that one can’t choose a blood relative and be at peace with it by reducing the interactions with the person. Also having someone to share the misery would reduce the pain a bit. Ah well!
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