For many of us, family can be the source of our greatest joys and deepest sorrows. When our family relationships are strong and healthy, they can bring us immense comfort and satisfaction. But when family dynamics are toxic, it can be a source of great pain and distress. So, what exactly defines a toxic family and how do we deal with it?

A toxic family is one in which unhealthy patterns of communication or behavior have been established over time due to unresolved issues, trauma, or other negative influences. In these families, members may feel trapped by their circumstances or unable to express themselves without fear of judgment or criticism. This can lead to feelings of resentment, mistrust, and despair.

Signs of a Toxic Family are...(these include but are not limited to): • Unhealthy boundaries – Not respecting each other’s space or privacy • Lack of trust – Not feeling like you can be honest with each other • Lack of communication – Avoiding difficult conversations or refusing to talk about certain topics altogether • Manipulation – Using guilt or emotional blackmail as a way to get what you want from each other • Negativity – Being critical or judgmental instead of supportive and encouraging • Emotional abuse – Belittling each other’s ideas or opinions in order to make someone else feel bad • Physical abuse – Verbally attacking each other or using violence as an outlet for frustration.

Dealing with this type of family dysfunction -
 If you find yourself in the midst of a toxic family situation, there are some steps you can take in order to help improve the situation for yourself and for those around you. These include: • Establish boundaries – Setting limits around what you are willing to tolerate from others will help protect your mental health and wellbeing. • Disengage from negative conversations - If someone is being particularly negative towards you or another person in the family, it is best not to engage in that conversation any further. You don’t have to stay silent; simply walk away if necessary. • Seek outside support - It is important that you have people outside your family who can provide emotional support when needed. Talking with friends, counselors, therapists etc., can help provide much-needed perspective on the situation at hand. • Practice self-care - Taking care of yourself through activities such as exercise, reading, journaling etc., will help reduce stress levels while also providing an outlet for any pent-up emotions you may be experiencing due to the toxicity within your family dynamic.

No matter how difficult things may seem at the moment, remember that there are steps that you can take in order to improve your relationship dynamics within your family system. By establishing boundaries and seeking outside support when needed, you will be able to build healthier relationships with those around you (both inside and outside your immediate circle) and create more positive experiences all around!  I know all of this can seem easier said than done, that is why I am working to create steps to help you through this. You have made it to the first step, identifying that it is a problem, and wanting to fix it. I am so proud of you! 


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