Growing up, everyone only wants to have a happy family, but some people are unfortunate enough to become part of a family wherein the family members all have a toxic behavior. Too bad, we can always choose and get rid of a friend whenever they get too toxic. But you cannot do the same when you have toxic family members as you cannot definitely change your family.
Neither you can leave them when you are still a minor or you do not have anyone else to support you other than your toxic family members. So in the end, you stay and you tolerate their toxic behavior until it exhausts you.
As much as you want to get rid of that toxic behavior from them so you will no longer have to experience having a toxic relationship, it is not something like a miracle that can be fixed overnight. You also cannot
There are some ways to temporarily deal with the emotions your toxic family members cause you like looking for self-care tips or learning stress management. But aside from those things, you should have at least life lessons learned in your family to help yourself more.
- Signs of a Toxic Family
- They Are Too Controlling
- They Have Constant Conflict
- They Are Being Dominant
- Everything is Violent
- They Only Love You When They Need You
- They Always Punish You
- They Criticize You
- How To Deal With Them
- Identify Your Role
- Take a Time-Out From Them
- You Do Not Have To Help Them Always
- Do Not Expect Them To Change
- When You Should Cut Ties
1. Signs of a Toxic Family
A family whose toxic family members are causing too much commotion is truly a challenge for all of us, most especially when we learned that families should always be supporting each other through good times and in bad times no matter what happens.
However, not everyone is blessed with healthy families, and the following are signs of a toxic family.
They Are Too Controlling
There is a big difference between ideal parenting and controlling parenting. When their toxic behavior and your toxic relationship with them are already frightening you, it means that they are controlling you and preventing you from doing what you really want. Sometimes, their toxic behavior prevents us from growing healthy, and we might not even realize that in the beginning. These toxic family members try to make you do something you are not comfortable with just to satisfy their own.
Clinical psychologist Sherrie Campbell once explained that “The family dynamic functions around the needs, wants, desires, and dramas of the parent. Children are not viewed as people, but rather as things to be controlled, used, and manipulated.”
This only means that toxic family members see you as a thing, rather than a person. And these life lessons learned can make you feel like you are being neglected due to their toxic behavior.
They Have Constant Conflict
Toxic family members can be toxic to one another, too. And their toxic relationship can cause them to fight more than being caring and affectionate with each other.
Due to their toxic behavior, their relationship can be full of conflicts. Since they also choose to resolve the conflicts, they tend to develop resentment afterward. This is because they are not trained nor used to fixing things in a healthy manner.
Corrupt parenting style can also contribute to this, and their toxic behavior can eventually cause a psychological effect on their child’s developing years.
Whenever the toxic family members show their toxic behavior, they develop anti-social behavior that can lead to depression.
They Are Being Dominant
They say that most toxic family members are “dominant-submissive”. This means that someone in the family always unleashes the dominant side and refuses to consider the other member’s feelings or opinions.
If this continues, the other members then will feel voiceless and powerless, causing their children to have lower self-esteem as they grow up. Aside from parents, siblings can also express this toxic behavior, with the older sibling being the most dominant.
Everything is Violent
Clearly, when a toxic relationship already involves abuse, it is truly a sign that a family is toxic.
However, this is not just about physical abuse. This can also include, emotional, legal, sexual, mental, and psychological abuse. The saddest thing about this is that it can be the root of deep-seated mental health issues, like depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic syndrome.
They Only Love You When They Need You
Another sign that you have toxic family members is when you are only recognized when you satisfy their financial, physical, and emotional needs.
This kind of toxic behavior is not as noticeable as physical abuse, but this is a warning sign that you are falling on their toxic behavior. If your siblings of parents force you to provide something for them constantly even when you have nothing left for yourself, then there is a manipulation that is currently happening.
If they are already causing too much distress, you must remember that it is not your responsibility to provide their wants when you cannot even give yourself the things that you need.
Family is a support system, but exploitation like this is not supported at all most especially when loving and giving should be given either unconditionally or freely.
They Always Punish You
There is a big difference between discipline and punishment, and you should be aware of that.
Discipline is a way to teach you things in a healthy way while punishing is an act wherein they are already affecting your morality. After all, punishment is just the toxic family members’ excuse to have control over you.
They Criticize You
Your toxic relationship with your family can bring you a heartbreaking result most of the time — you also tend to develop inner critic. Their constant criticisms toward you and your effort can literally make you feel incompetent and unsuccessful even when you are already trying too hard to please them. Such life lessons learned should make you feel better and remember your self-worth.
2. How To Deal With Them
When you have been living with your toxic family members for so long and if you have been enduring their toxic behavior, you might be thinking like there is no other way to deal with them anymore. You might even think of becoming like them to take an act of revenge or something, but sharing the same toxic behavior with them is not in line with the life lessons learned that you want to live on in the future.
Moreover, if you plan to act like them, too, this will only complicate the toxic relationship even more as it will make everything even worse. To help you prevent any of the aforementioned scenarios from happening, here are some tips you can follow to successfully deal with toxic family members.
Identify Your Role
Identifying what you really want to be in the family can make you finally stand for yourself and not let anyone show you toxic behavior anymore. If you have been trying to enlighten them with your life lessons learned list but they are too toxic to understand them, then it is their problem now. Sometimes, not showing that you care can help you divert their attention to something or someone that can see them clearly.
Take a Time-Out From Them
Spending some time away from your toxic family members can help yourself breathe again and let go of the things that are currently inside your head. You have been dealing with them for so long now, and reserving some time for yourself should not be a big deal to anyone. You cannot please anyone, but you should please yourself by listening to the voice.
You Do Not Have To Help Them Always
The reason why toxic family members have toxic behavior is that they are creating them. And they might call you for help but you do not always have to sympathize with them and condone their behavior. Always remember that siding them will never be the solution, and it is not part of the life lessons learned that you are always proud of. Instead of validating what they feel and do that harm other people, teach them how to be responsible for the crisis they created and lead them to the best and right way to resolve it.
Do Not Expect Them To Change
You cannot easily change a toxic relationship and toxic behavior, and that is proven.
According to Brown University, “Like most people, parents in dysfunctional families often feel threatened by changes in their children. As a result, they may thwart your efforts to change and insist that you “change back.” That’s why it’s so important for you to trust your own perceptions and feelings. Change begins with you.”
It only means that only the toxic family members can change themselves for the better if they want to be better at all.
Instead of trying so hard to change their toxic behavior, you can help them to do the following that can help them in the transition:
- They should be able to identify if they have painful and difficult experiences in the past that led them to become a toxic person. As we mentioned, toxicity has a root, and sometimes, it comes from their dark past.
- Ask them to write a list of the toxic behavior they want to change desperately. This can help them be on track always as the list can also keep them motivated throughout the process.
- They shall also jot down the traits they want to have instead. This will be the beginning of the practice session toward the betterment of their life.
- Make sure that they are not trying hard to be perfect. No one, even those without a toxic behavior, can ever be perfect in this world.
- They should realize that they are not in control of other people’s lives, most especially their other family members.
- Make them imagine the positive effect that will occur once they changed.
3. When You Should Cut Ties
When the tips are no longer working and they can no longer love you and themselves, maybe it is time for you to do the move instead and cut the ties. It is hard not to talk to your family, but sometimes, going far from them means saving your mental and physical health from their toxic behavior and poor treatments.
Sherrie Campbell, a licensed California psychologist and author of the book “Loving Yourself: The Mastery of Being Your Own Person“, said that “Cutting ties with family members is one of the hardest decisions we may face in life.
The facts are that family members are just people and not always healthy people, and if these people weren’t family, we would never choose them to be a part of our lives due to their poor treatment of us.”
So if you want to finally be free from the toxic relationship and only waiting for a sign, you should read the following reasons to consider before cutting off your ties from your toxic family members.
- When your relationship with your family is already turning into any kind of abuse, you should already free yourself from them. This time, you should be brave and love yourself enough to let them go.
- If they keep on making you feel like you are not good enough, or you have never done something good in them, stop them from degrading you by walking away. You deserve all the love in this world. If they cannot give you that, be the one to give it to you instead.
- If you have been so stressed by their toxic behavior that they are already causing distress in your work, school, or personal life, it is time to let go.
- A family should be the one to support you. If you think like you are already exhausting yourself to satisfy their own needs but still end up getting called a failure, then you should set aside such a one-sided relationship and focus on your healing now.
- When it became a blaming game and you are the one to fix their messes, teach them to fix it all by leaving them.