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Word of Encouragement from the Counselor’s Corner: How to Deal With Toxic Family

Families are supposed to be a place of support, love, and acceptance. Sometimes, however, family relationships can be the place where we experience the deepest hurt.

Sometimes we can spend years sacrificing our mental and spiritual health in harmful relationships under the notion that we have to because they are family.

Traits of a toxic person:

1.      Are abusive mentally, physically, sexually, or emotionally. When a relationship is based on manipulation, overt or covert; abuse is happening!
2.      The only contact you have with them is negative, or you get anxious of the thought of an encounter with them.
3.      The relationship creates so much stress affecting your work, home, and personal life.
4.      The relationship is one-sided, usually it is all about them and their needs.  
5.      When you do not give into their demands, silent treatment can happen and blaming.
6.      You feel worse after talking with them or being around them. They bring your energy level down.
7.      Create drama and chaos, and you get emotionally pulled-in to the whirlwind of emotions.
8.      You find yourself in a cycle of trying to fix, enable, and rescue them, and you end up frustrated because none has worked.
9.      Do not take responsibility for their actions, and blame others. .
10.  Create strife and division.
11.  Unforgiving and angry, sometimes even hostile.
12.  There is turmoil and confusion around them.
13.  Use others for their needs and benefits, regardless of the impact on others.
14.  Lie easily and it is difficult to know when they are telling the truth.
15.  Financially irresponsible, and expect you to bail them out of their poor choices.

If you have been involved with a toxic family member for years, letting go of them is not as easy as letting go of a friend or boyfriend/girlfriend. But letting go is what may need to happen so you can gain your sanity back, and allow God to intervene. Try first to set healthy boundaries with your family, and if they break the boundary you implemented; set a consequence. If the boundaries you set for them are repeatedly being broken, or you are not seeing any real change; it may be time to step aside. Letting go may be for a season and not permanent.

Know your limitations and realize we are not superhuman. Realize that a toxic person can drain your energy, health, well-being, and sanity. Detaching is not only healthy but may be exactly what you need to restore you. Because of our Christian teaching on humility, kindness, and self-sacrifice, we sometimes get the impression that to set boundaries and consequences is wrong. We believe that we must endure and take whatever someone dishes out on us. When we give someone permission to repeatedly sin against us without consequences, we enable them to sin. Sometimes the best thing we can do with someone who openly continues to sin is to part company with them. This process can help us to forgive them and pray for them regularly. A lot of the times if we stay engaged in a relationship that is toxic we can end up bitter, angry, and resentful. We are to keep peace, and one of the best ways to keep peace may be to detach in love.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6:12

What suggestions do you have to deal with a toxic family member?


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