5 Things To Remember About Toxic Family Members

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Family ties. Is it time to cut the cord that binds you together? One of the most important things to remember about toxic relationships in general is you always have a choice. You can choose to stay in it, try to change it or simply walk away from it. The problem with toxic family members is there is a stronger bond, an invisible emotional tie that only you can feel. Over time, dealing with toxic relationships can hurt your emotional well-being and deplete your self worth. If it starts to affect your mind and soul on a daily basis you should reevaluate how involved with this family member you should be and when to slowly start disengaging.

Struggling with mental illness, I choose my friends and relationships very carefully. In the past, I didn’t think about the effect certain people had on my illness and it was very hard for me to cut ties in relationships without feeling utter guilt. After a few heartbreaking experiences, I realized how much I loved myself and that I deserved to be treated as I treat other people. Searching for a new way of life spiritually and mentally I started to snip the strings binding me to toxic people.

Not everyone has a super close and healthy family. Unfortunately sometimes the word “family” is just that, a word. Ceasing communication with people who cause you more harm then happiness is sometimes the last resort but most effective to your well-being. Here are 5 things to remember about toxic family members.

1.) They are bullies.  Unhappy with their own lives or maybe dealing with past resentments, they want everyone around them to feel just as awful as they do. Instead of digging deep to the root of their problems, they try to drag you into the dirt with them. They try to tear down your self-worth and destroy your confidence so they can feel better about themselves. Sometimes, recognizing this behavior and standing up for yourself can dramatically change the situation. Saying something like “I have done nothing wrong and I will not allow you to let me feel like that anymore,” can be very empowering.

2.) They are passive-aggressive. Communication is key to having a healthy relationship, passive-aggressive behavior is probably the worst way someone can act to get your attention. They may try to point out your flaws randomly when you are talking about your dreams or just ignore you completely if they are upset about something. The easiest way to solve this is communicate, if they don’t take the communication bait then you may have no choice but to detach yourself from the situation as much as you can.

3.) They may not necessarily be terrible people. Even so, you should not be spending time with them on a regular basis. Everyone has bad and negative days, but it’s the people who have a bad and negative day everyday you should stay away from. At this point, I’m sure you have tried uplifting them and maybe feeling guilty about not being able to do so. Frankly, it wears on your emotional well-being and their happiness is not your responsibility. Anyone who does not make you feel good and lift you up more so than not, shouldn’t be a part of your daily routine. You are the company you keep.

4.) If anything, learn from their mistakes. Do you ever watch how someone acts or listen to their words and think to yourself…”God, I hope I don’t sound/act like that person EVER in my life!” Well, take your own advice and be the opposite. Practice compassion, mindfulness, and and self love every day. If you love yourself, there isn’t really anything anyone can say to you to make you feel bad about who you are!

5.) Let it go. Expecting someone to change will just leave you let down and discouraged. We can all hope people will change and our positive vibes will effect everyone we come into contact with. That is just not the case sometimes and to be completely honest, positive people annoy the hell out of negative people. When you are not on the same wavelength as people, it’s very hard to see to eye to eye and that creates friction. Ultimately, you have to do what is best for you and what feels right in your heart.

Personally, I have always had a very small “group” in which I confide in and spend serious time with. Trusting people for me is key and paying attention to how people surrounding me treat other people is exactly how they are going to treat you. What do you guys think? Any tips on dealing with toxic family members?

(h/t)

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15 thoughts on “5 Things To Remember About Toxic Family Members

  1. I have worked on and continue to do so daily on being a positive, self-loving person. It took me a long time to realize I was not a doormat. It’s taken a long time, the support of a couple close friends, and a strong desire to the strong, self confident woman I was 25 years ago in my late 20’s. I’ve removed all but the most toxic person from my life, MY MOTHER. She lives with my 3 sons and I. Long story short, my family moved in with her in 1997 when we found out we were having twins. I kicked my ex out in 2001. I was moving out in 2003, not planning on bringing her with us, when she told me she had lost her house to foreclosure and had to move. She just assumed she was coming with us. This spring we will have been together 19 years. 2 years ago after a major blow up we agreed it was time for her to move. This past November I flat out told her she has to move. The fighting, yelling, constant stress is literally killing me. All of my sons and I deal with mental illness on a daily basis… My sons also deal with high functioning autism and I have PTSD.

    My question is how do you get the toxic family member to move out of your house? In my case where it’s my mom and she thinks none of us are truly competent to do anything making sure we all know it

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    1. Dear Beth- I am so sorry you have had so much toxicity in your life thus far. I can definitely relate to you and have been on both sides of the spectrum. From a child and through teenage and early adulthood I have been cutting ties with toxic people and have also acted out with toxic behaviors. Unfortunately I am no PHD and would strongly advise you to seek therapy through the state/church or insurance. I wish I would have begun therapy on a regular basis as a teen! One piece of advice: if you rely on your mother to pay for things, emotional support or anything she can hold as “emotional blackmail” I would try cutting those things first. Don’t take money, stop seeking advice from anyone toxic, and don’t hope for their approval. Stand up for yourself and practice self love everyday. Tell yourself “you are a good person, stay true to yourself” or any positive mantra you like. I hope some of this helps and thank you for reading my article.

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  2. Any advice to the other family members that have been hit by the crossfire of one cutting ties with a toxic family member? I have been suffering for 3 years now. My pain of loss by choice is real!

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    1. Patty- I’m not sure I understand the question. From what I gather you cut ties with someone and are somewhat regretting the decision? The only advice I could possibly give on this situation is there must have been a reason for cutting ties with this certain person. In the article it states “being toxic doesn’t necessarily mean they are bad people” which is completely true. I have been the toxic person and would never consider myself a bad person. You probably don’t want to result to regression of this relationship as it was not healthy for either of you.In times like this I seek advice from close friends or my therapist on feelings of guilt. I hope this helps. God bless. xoxo

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      1. What I mean is…..what about the people connected to the person who is cut off. For instance..my husbands daughter, whom I deeply care for, has cut ties with her father. Myself and my children are directly affected by her cutting HIM out of HER life. Any advice for the people caught in the crossfire?

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      2. Ahh I see. My apologies for misunderstanding. I actually have a close friend who dealt with a similar situation/decision years ago when we were young and it ruined a few relationships for her. You have to remember people have their reasons for detachment and this would be a good time to be neutral. You deeply care for two people who will not speak to one another. I would tell them both you will be there for them but you will not choose sides. It’s not your battle, so why fight? In drama and arguments I try to stay middle ground to avoid being sucked into negativity or a toxic situation. In the past when I’ve taken sides it backfired on me, and I became the enemy. Unless someone has done something to you you cannot forgive at the moment, I would be neutral. Most likely, she will come around or at least try to once she works through some issues and had some space. If not, you’ll be there knowing you offered support but did not “choose” someone! Best of luck to you and your family. Xo

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  3. I am a 42 year old Bipolar, PTSD, ADD/ADHD, with major depressive disorder. My life revolves around therapy, psychiatrist, neurologist and nutritionist(because I suffer BED as well) I have an interesting family dynamic. I’m the oldest of 5 siblings from me my sister 41, brother 39, sister 30 brother 22. The youngest 2 will not speak to me at all. I wasn’t invited to my baby brothers wedding, my sister thinks my mental illness is a fake out so I can stay home. I was diagnosed with my issues at 13 and have been through numerous treatment programs. I just wonder how do I get them to forgive me for things I cant change. I’ve apologized in person, in letters and on the computer but I truly believe they dont want me in their lives and it saddens me.

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    1. Jocelyn– thank you for sharing your story and the diagnosis you struggle with. I can’t even imagine how tough it must be. Being bipolar type 2 myself and struggling with panic disorder I can kind of relate to you. You are not alone and stay true to yourself. I think the apologies need to come to an end and a new positive beginning, surrounding yourself with positive and like minded people may be in order. Email if you ever feel alone! God bless.

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  4. I have anxiety and live one day at a time,I have slowly cut out or backed away from negative people but sometimes I feel lonely but I stay positive and go on.

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    1. Rose– negative people will only make your anxiety worse if you’re going through a tough time. I think you’re amazing for the struggle you deal with on a daily basis. Loneliness is a good thing if you think of it in terms of silence for you to meditate or pray on whatever pain you are feeling. I’d rather be a bit lonely than deal with negative people who I just don’t click with. God bless.

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  5. Hi Kate,
    Thank you so much for this article… It is exactly what I am dealing with. I haven’t been officially diagnosed with anxiety, but I bet I would be if I ever mustered up the courage (& the cash) to talk to someone. Because of financial reasons, I have been living with my parents until I can make ends meet. My sister is also living there too, but for psychological reasons that are much worse than mine, and that I fear will get to a point where she will no longer be able to care for herself. This has caused a very toxic environment to develop in the house, and it is a daily struggle to live with. I am naturally a pretty positive and happy person when I am around others (some have even called me “bubbly”), although I am more of an introvert than an extrovert…I think they call that being a “social introvert.” Because of the environment I am currently living in, however, combined with my need for a lot of alone time, it is an ongoing challenge for me to feel confident enough to remain social outside of work.
    It was great to read your article and know that I am not alone in what I am dealing with. I’ve already been trying each day to put the “5 things to remember” into action, so it is reaffirming to see someone else actually write them down and suggest following them.
    Thank you!

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    1. Hi, just read your post… I self diagnosed myself with this website, since then I have spoken to many professionals and friends about it… The key is to go back as far in your psyche that you can and you will find that greatest fear that is haunting you… Good luck, talking about it is the best way to understand it…. Check it out… http://www.anxietynomore.co.uk/

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  6. Thank you. I suffer anxiety and I have left behind many so called friends and some family members too because negativity is toxic. I am happy to have found your blog now as there are many other things I already want to read that I see here!

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  7. Speaking of toxic people — it was my brother. I don’t know who started it, whose fault it has been, but all I know is that after his visits he would leave at least one person in tears — usually the most vulnerable or the most “despised,” for he would speak to them with despicable words — which would be my mother who was first on his list to make miserable and then me. I decided to walk away even though my father would plead with me to “forgive him” or put a guilt trip on me saying that even at his gravesite his children won’t be together. How did I walk away? I told my father that it wasn’t for me but God to forgive him; all I could do is to remove myself from his bullying. How? By simply not coming to any family functions such as Thanksgiving, Christmas and the like. I remember once walking into my parents house only to turn around and walk right out when I saw him there. (Can I confide to you, that it broke my heart.) Finally, a few years later he sent a message through my sister that I should rejoin the family celebrations and that he would go more than half way to make it work. And I did, but beforehand I made myself the promise that I wouldn’t say anything, anything at all except for the most basic civilities. And to my surprise, it worked. Those were the best moments with him.
    He had been and continued to be toxic to all of us: the family he came from, the family he formed…his daughter couldn’t even come to his deathbed nor to his funeral. But, he was devoted to his church. At his funeral the priest called him a “holy man.” Only after his brain surgeries did he became gentle and considerate to everybody.
    I cannot attempt to understand or to explain any of this. Nowadays I just try to think of the good part of his character: his honesty, his generosity: he took care of everybody by his council or even actively when one needed to buy or repair a car.
    I would like to hear of the experiences of others regarding “toxic” family members.

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