How To Deal With A Dysfunctional Family Member
Living with a dysfunctional family can be exhausting. You may find yourself fatigued by their enthusiasm and unsure of how to deal with them effectively regularly.
What Does It Mean to Have a Dysfunctional Family?
A family that lacks healthy and appropriate boundaries and behaviors are considered dysfunctional. Abuse, poor communication and conflict resolution skills, unhealthy coping skills, parentification of the children, placing children in dangerous circumstances, imposing extremely high and unattainable demands on other family members, and acting erratically are all examples of this. If you grew up in a dysfunctional family, you may have experienced the following:
You can have a hard time truly trusting others.
More frequently than not, you’ll have poor self-esteem and self-doubt.
Anxiety, sadness, PTSD, personality disorders, and dissociative disorders can all cause a variety of mental health symptoms.
Self-medicate with drugs and alcohol is a possibility.
Limit the amount of information you reveal.
If you do decide to see or spend time with your family, keep yourself emotionally secure by minimizing the information you disclose with them that they might use against you. Try to keep your chats more general and shallow, and if feasible, refocus them back on them. This ensures that you are as safe as possible. If you don’t want to share something, don’t. There’s usually a reason your instinct is prompting you to be cautious about revealing information. You can refocus the conversation by saying:
“Enough about me; tell me about (insert topic they’re interested in).”
“I’m fine, and I’d like to learn more about your (insert topic of interest here).”
You can also say that you don’t want to talk about something, but there’s a significant probability this border will be crossed. If this occurs, remember that it has nothing to do with you, and they are most than likely violating the limits of others in the same way. Attempt to shift the conversation’s focus or leave the room. You can do so by saying:
“I’m no longer interested in discussing it, but I appreciate you asking. What’s up with (insert a topic you know they enjoy discussing)?”
“I’m not a fan of talking about it, but I’d like to learn more about your (insert a topic they enjoy discussing).”
“Excuse me for a moment while I go grab some fresh air.”
“I have to get going and make a quick phone call.”
“Unfortunately, I had to leave early, but I had a lot of fun catching up.”
After a tense interaction, take some time to relax.
Not only should you prepare for a tense meeting with your family, but you should also know how to recover your composure afterward. Come up with a little routine that you may use as a way to ground yourself after a stressful interaction. Lighting candles, meditating, going for a beautiful walk, or taking a shower are all examples of ways to relax. Try trying a few different routines to find which ones work best for you.
In Abusive Situations, Stay Safe
If you are a minor who has been physically abused by your family, realize that you have options. Keep as much documentation as possible, including dates of incidences and injuries sustained, and call the police as soon as possible. Meanwhile, attempt to find a safe location to stay, such as a relative’s or friend’s home.
Emancipate from them
In some cases, it is preferable to avoid seeing dysfunctional family members rather than try to put up with them. If spending time with a particular family member, or a group of family members, causes you stress and has a bad effect on other elements of your life, you might want to consider establishing clear no-contact boundaries with them.
You have a choice to make a decision.
Keep in mind that if you are an adult who no longer lives with your dysfunctional family, it is up to you to decide whether or not you can handle visiting them. If you believe that visiting your family is harmful to your mental and emotional health, you have every right to avoid them. It’s natural to feel guilty, befuddled, furious, and upset about having to make this choice, but it’s critical to put your health first. If other family members question your absence because you chose to skip events, you can say:
“I’m not sure I want to go to the forthcoming family gathering because of our current relationship, but I’d love to meet up with you.”
“Unfortunately, I’m not in the best of relationships with (insert family member), so I’ll be skipping the forthcoming celebration.”
“I’ve decided to take a break from a recent terrible circumstance I had at (insert event) and will not be attending any family functions for the time being.”
Take Care of Yourself
Adults who grew up in dysfunctional families frequently experience shame, guilt, and worry. Depression and post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms are also possible. This is typical, and if you’re having trouble daily, there are many services accessible. Keep in mind that while the coping mechanisms you developed while living in the dysfunctional environment were not the healthiest, they did help you survive at the time. Consider how you handle stress, rejection, and emotionally challenging situations. If you’re having trouble dealing with these difficult situations the way you’d like, consider trying some new, healthy coping techniques and even seeing a therapist or counselor to help you grow.
Participate in Coping Techniques
Those who grew up in or continue to live in dysfunctional households are frequently not taught proper self-care practices. Recognize that this is not your fault and that there are numerous methods to begin relearning appropriate coping strategies. Experiment with a few different options until you find one that works best for you.
When you’re feeling emotionally overloaded, go for a stroll and listen to a soothing soundtrack.
Note your emotions, the scenario that triggered how you’re feeling, your automatic response to the trigger, and what you’d want to do next time to identify your triggers.
If you require additional assistance, contact a therapist or counselor.
Return to a tranquil condition by practicing breathing techniques.
To relieve physical tension in your body, try progressive muscle relaxation.
To help you artistically process the interactions you’ve had with your dysfunctional family, journal, draw, or paint.
Make a motto for yourself to remember when interacting with your family and afterward.
Spend some time with a furry friend. They are stress relievers in their natural state.
After an intense interaction with your family members, choose an enjoyable activity to do. This provides you with something to anticipate.
To relieve physical tension, treat yourself to a massage or acupuncture.
With a trustworthy friend, discuss the interaction of your family in general.
Recognize Your Limits
If you live with or visit your dysfunctional family, check in with yourself frequently. Make sure you’re prepared for the interaction and that you take good care of yourself afterwards.