Although many of us are fortunate enough to be born into loving families who give us the care and attention we need, and with whom we have strong and enduring bonds, it is a fact that the same cannot be said for everyone.
Many people, unfortunately, belong to families where one or more members have a toxic and unpleasant presence in their lives. Their family members can be abusive physically and emotionally and cause all manner of problems for them for all of their lives. Despite this, a lot of people who are dealing with toxic family members fail to see what is happening to and around them and often find it difficult to cut off those family members or even stand up for themselves, which can cause unhealthy patterns to keep repeating over abnd over again.
It is, then, important, that we are all able to identify potentially toxic members of our family and friends so that we can deal with the issue and hopefully improve our lives as a result, Even if you do not think you have a toxic person in your lie right now, it is still worth reading so that you can identify anyone who does become a toxic presence in your life because it is so much more common than you might think.
With that in mind, here are some of the biggest signs that you are dealing with a toxic family member:
They are extremely critical
Giving a negative opinion is not always a bad thing – sometimes when someone we love is brutally honest with us it can help us to realize things that we did not know were true about ourselves, so we can take steps to improve. However, when someone we love is very critical about everything we dom ad often in an unkind way, that is not in any way helpful, and could actually be pretty harmful for our mental health.
Often, toxic people will couch their critical comments as being for our own good or just trying to help, or they will laugh at you for getting upset at their ‘teasing’ but if their comments are nasty and targeted to hurt you, it is more likely they are getting some kind of kick out of emotionally abusing you and you do not have to sit back and take that.
Dealing with this kind of emotional abuse can be tough but if you want to keep seeing the people who are being so hurtful, something you can do is to simply ignore their hurtful comments, Do not react negatively or positively to them, and try to simply gloss over them, If they don’t get a reaction from you, you take their power away, and more often than not, they will simply not bother.
Nothing is ever good enough for them
No matter how much you do for a toxic person, it will never be enough for them, Whether you loan them thousands of dollars help them out of a tough spot by arranging their bail bonds, help them manage their health needs, or… well you get the idea, it will not be good enough and they will always want more, In fact, they will most probably go around telling everyone that you never do anything for them and how hard they have to struggle without family support, never mentioning the fact that you took hours out of your day to drive them to the hospital or that you gave them a bunch of money to pay the rent. Toxic people often love to be perpetual victims and paint the actual victims as the bad guy.
What can you do about this? If you are strong enough to do so, you could stop helping them. If they are genuinely treating you so badly, then you do not owe them anything, and actually, they may not deserve all of the time and effort you are going to in order to make their lives easier while making your own even more difficult to bear.
If that isn’t an option because, understandably, you may still love them and want to help them, then whenever you can, pull them up in their assertations that you do nothing for them and make it very clear all the things you have done for them, Be more assertive and don’t ley yourself get taken for a ride.
They give you the silent treatment
Toxic people live the silent treatment. They know it can be just as hurtful as nasty words when it is deployed effectively. The thing is, the silent treatment is anything but harmless – it is, in effect, emotional abuse and you should not have to deal with it.
If a friend or family member regularly gives you the silent treatment the best thing to do is to simply avoid interacting with them if possible. If you can’t do that then just interact with them as normal and do not show any upset if they continue to blank you, The silent treatment is all about power, so if it doesn’t look like it is having any sort of negative effect on you, chances are they will give up, and if they don’t well at least you will not have to deal with their usual tactics for a little while, so look at it as being a nice break from them although I know that is often much more easily said than done.
They are not truthful
Toxic people often have a real problem with the truth. They are always looking for ways they can make themselves look good, or play the victim, and make you look like the bad guy. So, if a family member is constantly lying to you or denying things happened that actually did happen – gaslighting in other words – it is a clear sign that they may be a toxic presence in your lie;
If you know they are lying, do not be taken in by the lies, trust your own judgment, and do not let yourself be fooled by them, and definitely do not lie for them either. Continue to state what you know is the truth, but do not engage in an argument about it, they will not back down and it will waste all of your time and energy to do so.
They turn other family members against you
Something that many toxic people live to do is to turn one family member against another, They love to tell tales about one sibling to another or turn parents against children so thast they can be the favored family member and get all of the love and praise for themselves.
This means that you have to be really vigilant when dealing with them. If they tell you someone has said something unkind about you behind your back or otherwise acted out of character, you should not necessarily believe that to be true without independent verification, and you certainly should not start arguments with people based o what the toxic person has said. Take everything with a pinch of salt and do not let yourself be drawn in.
If someone accuses you of something based on what the toxic family member has said, calmly explain your side of the story and leave it at that. Anything you say that is negative about the toxic person will only be used as ammunition against you to prove that you are the bad guy, so it really is not worth pressing the point, especially if it is going to inflame the situation further. Chances are if you have noticed the person is toxic, others will have too and they will probably have an inkling that you are the one who is telling the truth.
They use violence
Many toxic people will often use violence, or at least the threat of violence, to get what they want and make you as compliant with their wishes as possible. This can be pretty scary to say the least. If it happens to you, you should ask them to leave, or if that is unlikely to happen, you should perhaps consider calling law enforcement. It isn’t easy to report family members to the authorities, but you need to think about your own safety first and foremost. If that doesn’t feel possible, then talking to an organization that helps with domestic violence could be a good way to get the support and assistance you require.
Dealing with a toxic family member can be difficult, to say the least, but you always have the option of removing them from your life if you feel that is something you need to do for yourself and the rest of your family to be happy. If you cannot or do not want to do that, hopefully, the suggestions above will help you to deal with them more effectively so that there is less heartache on your part and so that maybe they think twice before tasking their frustrastions out on you in the future.