A toxic relative can blow up a dinner, destroy a weekend visit, and leave a path of destruction through a family vacation. They bring new meaning to the term “nuclear family” and dealing with them can be upsetting.
You can’t cut the bad apples from the family tree, but that doesn’t mean you have to let their poison spread from branch to branch.
Try using some of the advice mentioned in this article if you’re dealing with this problem. As long as you put the most focus and energy into yourself, the negative vibes from relatives can’t break you.
How to Deal with Toxic Family Members
Option #1: To get started, get clarity.
With toxic family members, we are often blinded to reality. Sometimes we’re blinded by optimism. We overlook their latest shenanigans because we just want to smooth things over. We make excuses for them under the guise of hope. We are loyal because they’re blood.
But sometimes we’re blinded to the reality of the situation by resentment. We ignore their efforts to reach out because we’re holding a grudge. We think they’re being manipulative or aren’t capable of change. Often that’s true, but sometimes it’s not.
So start by trying to see things as they really are. Look at your interactions in black and white, and let it help you determine whether your relationship deserves to be thrown a life preserver or is essentially dead in the water.
Option #2: Rewrite your part in the family drama.
If you’re stuck in family drama, maybe it’s time to play another part. Change what they are used to. Set some limits. Don’t drop out of the play, simply rewrite your role in it.
A toxic family member is like a forest fire—they need to be contained by drawing some lines. There are lots of ways to contain how you interact with them.
Toxic co-worker? Steer clear. Toxic friend? Time for a breakup. But what if the toxic person in question is perched firmly in your family tree.
A toxic relative can feel like a hopeless situation to be in.
When it comes to dealing with people who are having toxic effects on our lives, it is often difficult to simply walk away from them. This makes the situation worse as you feel stuck. What can you do about a family member who is having a negative impact on your life? Well, first, realize that not all families are going to be the best support system that you can lean back on. Furthermore, that toxic relative may be going through a tough time themselves, in which case, they’ll need some care.
Not all toxic family members are behaving that way on purpose.
Sometimes they could have good intentions, but the way they go about it has a negative effect on how you live your life. In this case, the best advice would be to put a little distance between you and that person to ensure your daily life isn’t being ruined.
Toxic people tend to be very passive aggressive.
They may not be completely open about their feelings. Instead, they make small comments or gestures towards you rather than saying what the problem is. The idea here is for you to constantly take little hits until you get wound up enough and explode in anger or sadness. Try to tell your family members that you won’t judge or criticize them for what they think. This can break them out of the passive aggressive cycle as they feel like they can truly tell you what’s on their mind.
Toxic family members can be the worst bullies.
The worst bullies are often your own family members. If a family member is putting you down, it is something that you have the right to stand up against. Sometimes they are trying to stunt your growth as a person, so be cautious of what their intentions are and never be afraid to confront them if they make certain remarks about you.
Remember, the toxic relative is at fault, not you.
In these situations, the person being affected by a toxic family member feels it’s because they’ve done something wrong. They may even try to make you feel guilty and that their behavior towards you is justified. When someone close becomes toxic towards you, keep in mind it’s because of their own problems, and not you.
Hating a toxic person adds more fuel to the fire.
No matter how badly a family member has treated you, the problem will never be solved by being toxic back to them. It will create a never-ending cycle of hatred that will worsen your relationship and possibly sever it for good. Try not to hold grudges and prove to them that you’re the better person by living your life to the fullest.