All families fight. But if you have always felt like you are being smothered every time you’re back home, chances are, your family could be toxic.
Psychiatrist Abigail Brenner, M.D. says:
“Toxic people are draining; encounters leave you emotionally wiped out,”
Time with them is about taking care of their business, which will leave you feeling frustrated and unfulfilled, if not angry. Don’t allow yourself to become depleted as a result of giving and giving and getting nothing in return.”
If this sounds familiar to you, you should take a look at these 5 ways to understand if your family is toxic and how to deal with this problem.
1. They have no respect for your boundaries
You love your sibling but he or she is always being impulsive. They’ve made a habit of showing up unannounced at your family’s house, expecting to sleep on your couch for a few days. And because you love them, you say yes, but even after politely asking them to stop coming without prior notice, they just continue to do it.
2. They are overreacting
Alright, your parents may have become justifiably angry when you were breaking things around the house when you were a child. But if they still regularly go off the radar for completely normal things you do as an adult (like being late for meeting them because you got stuck in traffic), your relationship with them definitely falls into the “toxic” category.
3. They compare you to your siblings
You and your brother are two entirely different people. However, because he is a professor with three children and you’re a single cashier, your father loves to compare you two in order to pit you against each other. Your brother takes the high road, but your dad’s inconsiderate teasing still makes you feel insecure and under attack.
4. They are never wrong
Your folks never liked anyone you’ve ever dated, and it starts to feel like no person will ever be good enough for them. They think about your career dreams and friends in similar ways. If you have made clear to them that you’re happy with your life and the people around you and they will still not stay off your case, your relationship with your parents is threading on the toxic territory.
5. They act like victims
At times, parents just cannot help but try to make their children feel guilty. (“What do you mean, you aren’t coming to visit this weekend? You just don’ care about us, do you!?”) However, there is a big difference between expressing genuine disappointment and creating a toxic environment by putting the blame on others for their negative feelings. If your parents opt for not talking to you for a month because you couldn’t come to visit them, you are definitely swimming in toxic waters.
How can we handle a toxic family?
Learn to be assertive
In order to avoid hurting people, we sometimes keep a lot to ourselves. But we have to be assertive and able to tell the truth with affection: “I will come when I can and you know that whenever you need something you can call me”. “You know that I will always support you in everything, but don’t ask me for things that I am not able to do at this time.” Right now I’m going through a difficult situation and you have to be understanding and patient.”
Always make sure to be sincere, but say the truth out loud and inform them of what you can and cannot do for them. Make sure they understand that you have your own needs and issues to deal with.
Give yourself some space
“Detaching is an emotional concept and has nothing to do with physical proximity,” says Darlene Lancer, JD, LMFT. “It means not reacting, not taking things personally, and not feeling responsible for someone else’s feelings, wants, and needs.”
We hope you have found this article helpful. If you would like to share your thoughts on this topic with us, please don’t hesitate to do so in the comment section below.