(NEW BOOK ALERT: This post is a direct excerpt from the Children & Family section of our forthcoming book, “1000 Little Habits of Happy, Successful Relationships“.)
Family is supposed to be our safe haven. Sometimes, however, it’s the place where we find the deepest heartache.
Letting go of (or breaking up with) a toxic friend, boyfriend, or girlfriend is one thing, and there’s plenty of advice out there for doing so, but what about letting go of a toxic family member?
Most of us are not in a position to just walk away, nor do we feel that we want to, or that it’s the right thing to do. So what do we do when a family member is literally spoiling our lives with their toxicity? How do we deal with our feelings of obligation, confusion, betrayal, and heartache?
First and foremost, you must accept the fact that not everyone’s family is healthy or available for them to lean on, to call on, or to go home to. Not every family tie is built on the premise of mutual respect, love and support. Sometimes “family” simply means that you share a bloodline. That’s all. Some family members build us up, and some break us down. So just because someone is blood-related to you, doesn’t automatically make them the healthiest influence in your life.
Second, you must understand that a toxic family member may be going through a difficult stage in their lives. They may be ill, chronically worried, or lacking what they need in terms of love and emotional support. Such people need to be listened to, supported, and cared for (although whatever the cause of their troubles, you may still need to protect yourself from their toxic behavior at times).
The key thing to keep in mind is that every case of dealing with a toxic family member is a little different, but in any and every case, there are some universal principles we need to remember, for our own sake: [Read more…]