You can choose your friends and communicate only with those people who will support you, respect you, think and move in the same direction. Unfortunately, it’s a different story with your family members or relatives. They may criticize you, try to manipulate you, devalue your emotions.
Of course, this will make you at least feel annoyed and want to get into a verbal altercation. But it’s better to learn once to properly interact with toxic family members and keep your mental health normal than to constantly let them piss you off, and be led into provocations. We’ve put together some tips to help you understand how to build communication in this case.
How to respond to toxic family members
Spend as little time as possible in their company
The easiest thing you can do – try to spend as little time in the company of toxic relatives. If you already see each other a couple of times a year at family gatherings – you’re lucky. And if they cross paths constantly – think about how to minimize these meetings.
Maybe you should ask your parents to warn you about visiting relatives in advance or just use excuses when you are invited to the next family get-together with them. The less often you see each other, the less negativity such relatives will bring into your life.
Stop thinking you owe them something
There is a special caste of family members – those who are constantly something you want. And it is urgent, at the most inopportune moment, and completely free. And suppose you suddenly try to refuse or name a price for their work politely. In that case, they immediately start manipulating: they begin to pressure you into pity, reproach you for your unwillingness to help the family, etc. By the way, usually, such family members cannot be called close, and they seldom come to help.
So – stop thinking that you owe something to such people. If they are not with you and your closest relatives in the moments when you need help – forget all their reproaches! They are just trying to get what they want, and you are the perfect person to help, even if it hurts you. Break this vicious circle and stop doing this kind of charity, especially when people aren’t asking for your help but are literally extorting it.
Don’t try to change their minds
It is unlikely that you will agree with your toxic family members, but you don’t have to. They may have strange views on life, they may criticize you for your appearance, your words, and actions, but remember one thing: never try to change their minds about anything.
Just let it go, and if what they say offends you, end the dialogue! You won’t be able to change their minds anyway, and you’ll waste your time and energy, giving your relatives the pleasure of watching you get annoyed. Smile, let them know you don’t agree and offer to each stay with your opinion.
Set personal boundaries
Make it clear to the toxic family members what is acceptable and what is not. You must convey to the person that you will take certain words and actions as a personal affront. Of course, this doesn’t guarantee that the relative will stop behaving disrespectfully toward you, but at least you’ll have a trump card – a warning. If he tries to justify himself, he won’t be able to use the “I didn’t think it would hurt you” excuse. The main thing is to make your position as clear as possible.
Don’t keep quiet about what gets to you
Learn to make your frustration with the toxic relative’s words or actions clear. At the very least, it will help the rest of the family understand that you are uncomfortable communicating with the person. When you are silent, it is awkward for others to intervene, but if you speak up and make it clear that you don’t like the way the person is behaving with you, they can’t avoid having an uncomfortable conversation with the other family members.
The main thing is to remain calm while you reprimand your relative! Don’t raise your voice, don’t get personal, and don’t try to hurt the person in return! Do not attack him because he will want to take a defensive position, and a constructive dialogue definitely does not happen. And try to talk not about the wrongness of the person’s actions, but about your feelings caused by his words and actions.
Offer the relative a solution to the problem
One of the best ways to deal with a toxic family member is to tell them what they can do to fix the situation. For example, you might suggest that the person not touch certain topics in conversation with you, not evaluate your actions, or not try to make jokes about you.
When you talk about specific actions that can make contact between you and relieve you of tension in communication, it is as if you are taking the first step toward repairing the relationship with the relative.
Treat your relative with respect
Be an example of how to build interactions with your family! Don’t respond to toxic family members with rudeness for rudeness. Control yourself, keep a polite demeanor and make jokes if you’re talking about something you don’t want to discuss.
Remember, your emotional resources are exhaustible, and if you get into a conflict with everyone who tries to take you out one way or another, you’ll quickly become exhausted, and you may even get emotional burnout.
Let the person know that you are aware of their motives for behavior
Sometimes you can understand why your relative is behaving a certain way with you. And, if you know the reasons for his words and actions, then you have a slight advantage. People rarely like to face the truth, especially if it is unpleasant. You can let your relative know that you can guess the motives for his behavior. In some cases, this may make him reconsider his attitude toward you.
Try to sympathize with the person
Maybe your relative is being rude to you because he was brought up too strictly or because other family members treat him negatively, or maybe he is just going through a difficult time, and he periodically lashes out at those around him. Do not rush into conflict with the person, try to get to know him better first. Be objective in your assessments, and don’t let your emotions get the better of you!