12 Effective & Mindful Ways To Navigate Difficult Family Relationships
It is normal to disagree and fight with your family members. I mean if you don’t argue with your family members are you even family? Well, jokes aside, family, on one hand, can complete you while on the other hand can make you feel equally lonely.
Difficult, abusive, or toxic family relationships can be challenging to navigate and if you find your relationship with your family members or a particular member extremely difficult, you need to take a step back and examine the relationship closely.
You can begin by asking yourself if your relationship is unsafe, toxic, or just difficult to manage. If your relationship with your family is abusive, you can try to limit your interactions with them or seek professional help.
Remember, long-term conflict with difficult people and relationships can harm your overall health and wellness.
If you’re dealing with controlling family members or annoying behavior, here are things you can do to deal with difficult family members.
If You’re Dealing With Difficult Family Relationships…
If you’re dealing with difficult family relationships such as unhealthy sibling relationships or unhealthy attachment with parents, here you can try to understand what you appreciate about the other person than focus on the things that make your relationship difficult.
Here are some ways you can deal with an irrational family relationship:
1. Meet Someplace Neutral
When dealing with a difficult family member and your relationship with them, you can always choose to meet someplace where you feel comfortable and at ease. Meeting in public places can encourage others to be on their best behavior and avoid creating a scene.
2. Prepare Mentally For The Interaction
If you know you’re going to be meeting a family member with whom you have a difficult relationship, you can prepare yourself mentally for the interaction beforehand.
For example, if you’re meeting a cousin who always criticizes you about your choices, you can think about how to respond beforehand. Being prepared in advance can help you mentally erect walls to avoid additional stress.
3. Remain Empathetic
Remember, difficult people are not born difficult, it’s their experiences that drive their actions. For example, if the person you have a difficult relationship with is struggling with a particularly challenging phase, then you can try to avoid becoming annoyed with them.
Instead, you can try to look at their situation empathetically. While it cannot excuse their actions, it can help you look at the situation from their perspective.
If You’re Dealing With A Difficult Family Member…
Here, the navigation depends on the family member’s problems and condition. Depending on their issues, communication might be challenging, especially if they are prone to angry outbursts, manipulation, or bullying.
If such situations arise, consider whether dealing with a difficult family member is worth it or not. Family doesn’t mean that they can emotionally manipulate or abuse you.
If your family member is difficult to deal with, you can try these steps:
1. Avoid Talking About Sensitive Topics
Conversations about religion, politics, and money are usually topics that can result in heated discussions and disagreements. If a difficult family member insists on talking about these topics, you can try only listening to them and avoiding engaging in the conversation.
Many people like to talk about sensitive topics just to enjoy the drama. Instead of arguing, you can choose to not talk about them or walk away.
2. Focus On Your Emotional Response
If you’re engaging with a difficult family member, make sure you keep your emotions in check. Pay close attention to your stress and the response you give. If you feel too stressed, you can try deep breathing or relaxation exercises to calm yourself down. Other than this, you can walk away from them if the situation becomes too overwhelming.
3. Think Before You Speak
When someone says something obnoxious, our instant response is to not think before we speak. Here, when dealing with a difficult family member, you can try to reel in this response and think before you respond. Doing this can help prevent you from getting sucked into unnecessary drama.
4. Don’t Try To ‘Fix’ Them
When we see a family member losing their cool or having a meltdown our response is to rush in and help them but sometimes such a response can worsen the situation and your relationship. Instead of trying to ‘fix’ them, ask them if they need your help. Also, refrain from giving unsolicited advice. Let them make their choices.
5. Avoid People-Pleasing
It can become too tempting to people-please especially to maintain peace in the household. When dealing with irrational family members, try to stay true to who you are and avoid pleasing others just for the sake of it.
If You’re Struggling With A Toxic Family Dynamic…
If you’re stuck in a toxic family environment where your family member(s) is abusive, you need to consider your relationship with them. Do you want to keep in contact with this person? Remember, sometimes the best thing for you can be putting some distance instead of trying to salvage an unhealthy relationship.
However, if you can’t escape a situation including a toxic family dynamic, here’s what you can do to protect yourself:
1. Set Clear Boundaries
You need to communicate clearly what you can and can’t tolerate. Set clear boundaries (even with family) and make sure that you call them out when they cross the line. This doesn’t mean that you need to share your boundaries with them if you’re uncomfortable. Your boundaries matter and need to be respected by all.
2. Don’t Force Yourself To Stay
If you’re in a toxic or abusive family environment you can always choose to walk away. You don’t have to endure toxic dynamics for the sake of your family. If you’re being bullied or abused in your family, don’t force yourself to stay. Walk away to protect your mental and emotional health.
3. Be Selective About What You Share
Family is where you can be yourself but a toxic and unhealthy family is where you can’t trust others easily. When dealing with a toxic family, you need to be selective about what you choose to share.
In a toxic dynamic, a family member can use your personal information to manipulate you.
4. Reach Out For Professional Help
Dealing with a toxic and irrational family member is challenging and emotionally stressful. If you’re struggling with the same, you can always reach out to a mental health professional.
A therapist or counselor can help you figure out the best way to deal with a difficult family relationship while making sure your mental and emotional health doesn’t take a toll.
Family is one of the first and most important relationships we create in our life but this doesn’t mean that you can’t stand up for yourself when you face difficult and controlling family members.
Even if your family member is difficult to deal with, you can’t change the way they act or respond but you can change the way you respond to them.
I hope with the above-mentioned tips you can effectively and mindfully navigate difficult family relationships without compromising your mental and emotional health. If you think we missed something, let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can DM us on social media.
How is your relationship with your family members? Let us know in the comments below!