We all have someone in the family like this, a family member that only think of themselves; they’re manipulative and play with our emotions. It’s a complicated issue because these people have close ties to us, but what can we do to defend ourselves?
Toxic Relatives, When the Family Suffers
Experts tell us that having toxic family members in our personal circle can seriously affect our quality of life. If we have a friend who is selfish and manipulative, for example, we can always end the friendship and make new friends to provide balance and integrity. But what happens when the manipulative person is our own mother, brother or even spouse? It’s not easy and we understand.
You can’t simply end a relationship with a mother, brother, or mother-in-law. There are a lot of complex and difficult emotions and feelings surrounding the issue. They’re our own flesh and blood and it’s difficult to break a bond like that, but many people have to do it for their own health. There are times when these relationships explode and these toxic relatives can seriously undermine our emotional balance.
An example of this is parents who do not allow their children to choose their partners freely, those who criticize friendships and relationships. We all make mistakes, but what do we do when someone like your brother or sister brings something up or throws something in your face to hurt you? How do we act? We’ll give you the answers.
Let’s look at an example. You’re going to your partner’s parents’ house for dinner and they’ve made something spicy. You know you don’t like spicy foods and they don’t agree with your digestion. But, so as to not draw attention or offend anyone, you prefer to keep quiet and just eat dinner. Now, every time you go to your in-laws, they serve something spicy until you have no choice but to announce “that you can’t stand spicy food.” You’ll probably hear something like, “Why didn’t you say something sooner?”
This is just a simple example, a way to show you how to let people know what you can and cannot accept. If you can’t go to your mother’s every afternoon, or go shopping with your sister, let them know. If you don’t like someone telling you how to raise your kids, tell them. Let your voice be heard without scolding. Always speak with respect and care, you don’t want to burn a bridge by expressing yourself and your feelings. It’s not being selfish, it’s being sincere.
2. Learn to be assertive without being condescending
Sometimes we don’t want to hurt a family member, so we keep things to ourselves, like when parents or grandparents complain of always being alone, yet the fact is we’re always taking care of them. With siblings that say we’re not supportive enough, we need to be assertive and with respect and care, tell them the truth: “I always come when I can and you know whenever you need me you can always call.” “You know that I’m always there for you, but don’t ask things of me that I can’t do. I’m also going through a difficult situation right now and you need to understand.” Be sincere and caring, but tell the truth and say how you feel; let them know what you can and can’t do. Show them that you have needs that need to be respected.
3. Support your family unconditionally, but remember to look after your own needs
Family always come first, we know. Just as much as they are a part of our lives, they can also hurt us and be a destructive presence. There are those who were abused or mistreated during childhood. Maintaining a cordial relationship with these people will never be possible, and that’s clear. It’s essential to always care for you self esteem, to know that you’re a mature, balanced person with a daily need to be happy. If someone in your family is hurting you, it’s important to set some distance to restore our integrity, sense of self and tranquility.