Just like every other relationship, family relationships can be toxic. Unlike every other relationship, however, family can be harder to deal with. Almost all families have issues and in most cases, it is beneficial to hammer out differences but when it’s nothing but drama, it may be time to say goodbye. Here are 7 effective strategies that will help you in escaping a toxic family.
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How To Escape A Toxic Family
1. Don’t Let Guilt Stop You From Escaping A Toxic Family
Let go of the idea that “family” is everything and everyone should stick by each other. Just because you may have grown up and shared similar experiences doesn’t mean you have to deal with whatever crap gets thrown your way. As we all know, family can be some of the most hurtful people out there. Someone as close as family can use your weaknesses and shortcomings against you. They know what makes you tick and what irritates you. So why should guilt stop you from letting them go? Stop feeling guilty for not going home for the holidays. Stop feeling guilty for saying “no” to your family. Your happiness is more important than pleasing a toxic family. Let the guilt go and don’t let others make you feel guilty either.
2. Love Family From A Distance
Just because you decide to keep your distance doesn’t mean you can’t still love them and support them in some way. You can still pick up the phone and call or touch base with them on social media channels as long as it doesn’t usually escalate to a toxic interaction. Sometimes we can build stronger bonds with family when we are not in constant contact with them. I have experienced this in my own life. I’ve become closer to certain family members by being away from them.
3. Set Boundaries
Escaping a toxic family requires that you set boundaries and hold the line in the sand. Decide that there are just some things you will no longer tolerate from your family. Be upfront and clear about your boundaries with them. They may have gotten so used to crossing your boundaries that they now fail to recognize them at all. Remind them and be assertive if need be. If they continue to push your boundaries with no regard for your wishes, then that brings us to the next strategy.
4. Escaping A Toxic Family May Mean Cutting Them Off Completely
I know someone who had to cut off an entire side of her family. The family has always been condescending towards her over the years but because they were “family” she tolerated it. Things became too much when it became apparent that their moral values were in stark contrast. The other side of the family became aggressive in putting her beliefs down and pushing their own views. She decided that she would no longer tolerate or communicate with that side of the family. Since then she has had less stress and anxiety.
You may have to be honest with yourself and decide whether escaping a toxic family by cutting them off completely is the best option. Just because you disagree with family doesn’t necessarily mean you should walk away. When your opinions and beliefs are constantly being stepped on, however, that may be your only option.
5. Focus More on You and What You Need
Many people grow up learning that family is everything. That individual wants and needs mean little when compared to family wants and needs. There is definitely a place to help family when possible and to be unselfish, but not at the expense of your own individuality, wants, and needs. There must be a balance between the two. When balance is tipped in the family’s favor, relationships can become toxic. If you find that the family expects all of your time and attention at the expense of your own, then put your foot down and focus more on you and what you need.
6. Escaping A Toxic Family May Mean Giving Up Control
Are you adding to the toxic family environment? Do you feel everything would fall apart if you stopped taking responsibility for everyone and everything? If so, then learn to let go and give up control. You are not a martyr and you are not responsible for the family you grew up with. Your family will survive if you do not answer every beckoned call. Let them be responsible for their own welfare and happiness.
7. Be Prepared for Fallout
Escaping a toxic family may mean fallout. You may get a lot of backlash for cutting family out or even by setting boundaries. Be mentally prepared for it. Don’t let guilt or fear keep you within your toxic family’s grip. Remember that you are doing this for your own health and sanity and possibly for your family’s benefit as well.
Escaping a toxic family is not easy. It takes courage and mental toughness. Remember, do not let guilt stop you, and it is okay to love family from a distance. Set boundaries and if that doesn’t work, cutting them off completely may be an option. Start focusing on you and what you need, and if you are adding to the family toxicity, give up control. Also, be prepared for fallout.
How has continuing to tolerate a toxic family environment affected your life? Let me know in the comments.