A toxic family member is more difficult to deal with than a toxic friend or partner.
While it is relatively easy to spot a fake friend or a manipulative partner, a toxic family member is much more difficult to identify. The reason for this is that when you are raised by someone, you do not question the way they treat you. It is only once you grow up and become an adult that you begin to realize you are being mistreated, criticized or abused. While there many different things that can make a family member toxic, verbal abuse and gaslighting tend to be some of the most common toxic behaviors that parents/siblings exhibit.
How can you deal with an abusive or toxic family member?
1. Talk to them
Not all toxic people intend to hurt you. Some do not even know that their behavior has the power to inflict pain. For this reason, it is important that you sit down and explain how they have been making you feel. Calmly explain why the things they say or do make you feel the way they do. While it is true that some family members may acknowledge that they have caused you pain, most do not understand.
Unfortunately, you will have to set and enforce boundaries if your parents/siblings fail to understand why and how they hurt you. Let them know that you do not want them to get involved in certain parts of your life. If they continue to weigh in, criticize, and judge the way you live, you may have to distance yourself. This will be extremely difficult, however it may be necessary. Constantly facing criticism from members of your family can make you doubt yourself and make you feel worthless. Make it clear that if they want to be a part of your life, they will need to respect your boundaries.
3. Consider speaking to a therapist
In some cases, it may be beneficial to speak to a therapist. This is especially true for people whose family members gaslight them and tell them that they are just overreacting or acting crazy. A therapist will give you a safe space in which you can share your feelings and be vulnerable. More importantly, they can help you find a way of managing your emotions and accepting – or alternatively, cutting off – the toxic person in your life.