Toxic family members can place you in a pretty tight spot.

You can’t really escape them. No matter how far away you move or how much you try to avoid contact, they’ll always be there in the background. Eventually, you’re going to bump into them or see their number pop up on your call display.

It can be quite depressing. But it doesn’t have to be.

You can’t control how people treat you in life. But what you can control is how you react.

It’s not easy, and you’re not going to experience an overnight switch into a more positive state of mind.

But with time and enough positive reinforcement, you’ll get there.

Here are 4 things to keep in mind regarding toxic family members that will help you get there.

1. You don’t have to put up with it.

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Just because the toxic person in question is a family member doesn’t mean you have to shrug and put up with their crap.

Even if it’s your grandmother doling out the negativity, you have the right to stand up for yourself, whether that means cutting her off or saying, “Hey, that is completely uncalled for.”

2. They are bullying you.


A toxic family member can seem a lot like an overgrown playground bully, always looking for a fight.

That’s because they’re exactly that – a bully.

Studies have consistently shown that most bullies have faced bullying themselves. Bullies are also likely to be suffering from depression, low self-esteem and behavioral problems.

Maybe that will make you feel a bit of sympathy for your toxic family member. Maybe it won’t.

Either way, it should give you a bit of insight into why exactly your family member is treating you in such a toxic way. It’s not because you deserve that sort of thing. The issue lies entirely with them.

On a related note…

3. They are most likely not evil at heart.


Unless your family member is a bona-fide psychopath, they’re probably not skillfully plotting your demise and smiling with glee at the thought of you suffering.

No, they’re most likely just trying to communicate some sort of pain on their end.

What does that mean for you?

Well, it means that with help, patience and the right response, your family member could very well turn into a nice person. Here’s your chance to be the bigger person and display compassion.

4. They can teach you a lesson or two.


You probably don’t look at your toxic family member and think, “You know, I’d really love to be like them someday!”

No, you probably get revolted by the very thought of resembling them even slightly.

And right there, my friend, you’ve got yourself a benchmark – a clear picture of something to avoid.

People spend years trying to find something like that – years wandering, picking up different habits and dropping them in an effort to find something that clicks.

But you’ve been blessed with a toxic family member to save you the trouble. Lucky you!

Do you have any tips for dealing with a toxic family member? Share your advice in the comments!

Psychology Today
The Guardian