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Blood is thicker than water - do you agree?
I used to have that belief when I was a child. That was why, though my own sibling was violent toward me when I was a child, I wouldn't speak up for myself or get help.
Perhaps for many of us, we find it especially hard to deal with a family member whenever they are unkind to us, simply because they are "family". We have this belief or mindset that:
Family comes first or blood is thicker than water.
Not that these beliefs aren't good. But, they may not always be a healthy way of thinking.
What is the meaning of the word "family" anyway?
According to Google, it is all the descendants of a common ancestor.
Perhaps legally speaking, in paper, a parent has the right to decide certain life choices for their child, and a married couple is to share their living space, assets, and life together.
But, in nowhere does it state that “family” has the RIGHT to put you down as and when they like or that you are CHAINED to them for life.
WHAT is a toxic family member?A toxic family member may try to persuade or manipulate you into changing your mind.
It can be someone who doesn't support your life plans.
Tends to puts you down a lot, or even dismisses and invalidates your feelings.
WHY DO THEY BEHAVE THAT WAY?It can be that they aren't aware or mindful of what they are doing or that the words they are using against you are hurtful. They can very well be behaving based on what they've learned or observed while growing up.
It could be that they don't have the mental maturity or emotional intelligence as you do on how to be empathetic and kind toward others.
Whenever a family member puts us down, we can choose to simply allow ourselves to get upset and ask ourselves questions such cas, "how could they say that? How could they hurt me like this? How could they be so heartless? I thought they are my family?“
In terms of moral values, yes, we might be taught to respect and love our neighbor, especially our family. But, think about it - how is it fair to expect that everyone should and will live up to a certain standard of moral values? It's like saying everyone should score 100% marks at school exams, if not, you aren't human.
Point is, humans aren't perfect. I'm not defending the person who hurt you. I'm only saying, that as I mentioned earlier, it isn't fair to place your level of emotional intelligence and maturity onto the other person. Everyone sees the world in a different way.
Therefore, to expect others, even if they are family, to treat you how you think they SHOULD. Placing your personal expectations on others will only cause you pain and frustration.
HOW to handle a toxic family member?Make sure to find the right time to speak to them. I mean a suitable time where both of you are in the right state of mind to talk about emotions, not when you are tired or angry, or when they are busy rushing work for example.
When you're having the talk with them, share in a neutral way how their actions or words made you feel. Share with them you would appreciate it if you said or did something wrong, they can gently point it out and you will do your part to work on yourself. On their part, you'd appreciate it if they are more mindful of their actions, the words they use, and how they deliver their message to you.
💡One important tip here: Try to resist the urge to bring up the past to spite them. Bringing up the past never helps produce a healthy conversation nor will it bring about any solutions to help you both move forward.
What if they don't care and continue to hurt you?There is no real right or wrong way to handle a toxic family member. No one can tell you when enough is enough because everyone's tolerance is different or when you should remove them from your life.
There is only a question of what can you live with at the end of the day? Would you regret your decisions? Your words?
Whatever you decide to do, just ensure you take the time to think it through before SPEAKING or TAKING ACTION
I understand we all want to be loved and liked by everyone. But it is simply impossible. So please don't think badly of yourself if someone can't get along with you or doesn't think well of you. What they think, is their problem. It doesn't define you.
Also, no matter whether things improve or not, and you decide to distance yourself from your family member, please remember to forgive and move on. Holding on to pain and anger will not serve you in any way. Choose to forgive, not because you tolerate their behavior, or that you SHOULD be good buddies with them because they are "family". Choose to forgive them, simply because you value your happiness and inner peace more than being right.
I do hope you found this video helpful in dealing with a toxic family member.
Remember to take care of you.
PS ➳ Feeling stuck? Get this FREE E-BOOK: How to get yourself unstuck today
I’m Trish, a Personal Development & Career Counselor sharing inspiration and knowledge on improving our mental wellbeing as well as the quality of our lives. Thrive With Trish is a space where I share about personal development + career.
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