When you’re dealing with a toxic family member, it can seem as if you don’t have many options. You can freak out, spaz out and vent to the nearest sane person you can find. OR, you can imitate your toxic family member’s actions. While the first three options are fairly common reactions, you don’t want to end up becoming a toxic person yourself, just to deal with a toxic family member. Imitating this person’s actions will only make matters worse and hurt those around you. In order to prevent this from happening, I have come up with five healthy ways you can deal with a toxic family member.
1. Brace yourself upon arrival.
Don’t fool yourself into thinking this person has changed. Whenever you’re about to have an interaction with this family member, remind yourself how the person is. After going days, weeks or even years without speaking to your toxic family member, it can be easy to forget his or her true colors. Be prepared for how this person is going to act, so you can react appropriately…. without being too surprised.
2. Keep communication to a minimum.
There is no use spending time around a family member who continually drags you down. Limit your time spent with him or her. If you’re going to cross paths over a holiday, don’t spend the entire holiday with this person: Split your time with other family members. If you worry about seeing this person while you’re visiting another family member on a random occasion, perhaps try meeting somewhere else. Don’t answer this person’s calls or texts. Eventually, he or she will get the point. And if this person decides to confront you about your radio silence, realize this will give you a chance to finally clear the air.
3. Keep private matters to yourself.
It can be so easy to spill your life out to a toxic family member, as you too often forget how this person can use that information against you. Just because this toxic family member is having a “good day,” that doesn’t mean he or she has earned the right to have you open up. And who knows? This good attitude could switch at any moment, leaving you vulnerable and your family member with the upper hand.
4. Forgive, but don’t forget.
What has this toxic family member done to you? Forgive him or her, but don’t forget. Forgetting will bring you back to problem number one: being unprepared for the torment of his or her destruction. However, forgiving this person for whatever he or she has done to you will free up your mental space. It takes a huge load off your shoulders. We don’t have to carry around this person’s actions anymore. Instead, we can simply try our best to never deal with the person again
5. Don’t try to change this person.
We can’t change someone. We can only pray and hope this person will change on his or her own. Change comes from within. Even when this family member hurts us with actions that are so blatantly stupid, wrong and mean, we must learn to hold our tongues and be the bigger person. Toxic family members simply don’t want to hear what we have to say.
Having a less than ideal family member doesn’t mean you should love him or her any less. However, if this person’s actions are negatively affecting your personal happiness, it might be time to implement some new ways of dealing with the person. Just remember: You’re not alone.