What to Do If You Grew up in a Dysfunctional Family

All families go through some level of dysfunction.

Some, however, have it worse than others.

A dysfunctional family is formally characterized by “conflict, misbehavior, or abuse.” Relationships between family members are heated and can be full of neglect, screaming, and even abuse. You might have no other choice but to accept negative treatment as a child.

You have no one to confide in about your experiences, your thoughts, and your feelings freely; you are unable to thrive and are not receiving the care and nurture a well-functioning family should be able to provide for a child.

And that’s not all. Signs of a dysfunctional family include:

  • Expectations of perfection
  • Abuse or neglect
  • Unpredictability and fear
  • Love only given when something is expected from the child
  • Lack of boundaries
  • Lack of intimacy such as showing affection and love to one’s child
  • Poor communication and no sense of understanding

But how can you heal as an adult having grown up in a dysfunctional family?

The process of healing means moving beyond the rules that govern dysfunctional family dynamics.

You can replace things like don’t talk, don’t trust, don’t feel with a new set of guidelines in your relationships as an adult.

1. Be open to talk about your feelings and experiences.

You can get rid of feelings of shame, isolation, and loneliness, and thus nurture stronger relationships when you share your inner life with the people you trust. Acknowledging and opening up about your struggles is the opposite of living in denial. It widely opens the door to solutions and betterment.

2. Become more trusting and set your boundaries.

Trust doesn’t come easy, especially when people have let you down numerous times before. It takes time to learn to trust in yourself and others. Trust is a crucial element of healthy relationships, along with healthy boundaries that ensure that you are being treated fairly, with dignity, and your needs are met.

3. Don’t be afraid of your feelings.

You are allowed to feel your feelings. It will take time to get back in touch with your feelings and come to understand their importance. But you can make the first step by asking yourself how you feel and telling yourself that your feelings are worth recognition. You don’t have to limit yourself to feeling shame, fear, and sadness. Also, you don’t need others to validate your feelings; there is no right and wrong here. Just let your feelings be without judgment.

You might also want to consider the following:

  • Therapy. A knowledgeable therapist can help you greatly in the process of healing.
  • Be aware that as a kid, you didn’t have a voice, but now, as you have grown, you do.
  • Understand that no matter what other people may have told you in the past, you are worthy of love and you matter. Period!
  • Stay away from toxic environments and people.
  • Steer away from the cycle you lived in. It is of vital importance for you to find a new path.
  • Realize that you are not defined by your past. As an adult, you can make new and improved choices.
  • Stay away from the victim mentality You are not a victim anymore unless you allow yourself to become one.
  • Know that some people cannot be changed/helped, but you can change yourself and thus inspire others to become better human beings.

If you believe that you can still salvage the relationship with your dysfunctional family, please see the video below for guidance.

We hope this article was of help to you. Let us know your thoughts on the topic by joining the conversation in the comments and please share if you’ve enjoyed the read.

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