All it takes is one toxic family member to bring you down when you're happy. All it takes is that one snide remark, that one sarcastic comment, that one belittling jibe to break your composure and calm and leave you feeling like your existence has no meaning. That dealing with toxic family relationships is not easy is probably an understatement of sorts.
How then do you take care of yourself? How can you maintain any level of sanity when it seems like very step you take and every move you make is being scrutinized and will be admonished like you've committed a cardinal sin?
Identify the Signs
A relationship is termed toxic when there is no balance of respect and authority in the family. One person tries to dominate the others and imposes his views and style of living on the rest. There is no freedom for other family members and he expects them to behave as per his set of rules.
This leads to frustration, constant quarrels, rifts, and conflicts. Every relationship suffers because of a toxic person and the feeling of love, care and unity among the members is disturbed.
He gives no respect to his family and is verbally, as well as physically abusive. He always has a negative attitude, whatever the situation be. He gets agitated at the drop of a hat and makes a big issue of even inconsequential matters.
Approaching such a person, in times of need, is very difficult and you can hardly expect anything good in return from him. Toxic relationships are difficult to maintain and cannot be sustained for long periods of time if necessary measures are not taken.
Dealing With Such Relationships
Communicate: First of all, having the right sort of communication with the person is very essential in this regard. Yes, it will be difficult, still, you will have to try to talk with him. Make him realize that his behavior is causing many problems in the family, and the family may fall apart with such constant conflicts.
Give Him an Ultimatum: Tell him that the relationship can continue further only if he is willing to co-operate. He needs to be made to understand that he can expect to be respected only if he respects others in turn.
Be Patient: Expecting him to change his behavior overnight is impossible. Give him sufficient time and a chance to show that he is aware of his responsibilities towards the entire family.
Forgive Him: When he shows signs of remorse and you can see that he really is making an effort to be a better person, help him and encourage him by forgiving him.
While holding a grudge may seem the easier way out and the justified thing to do after being at the receiving end of his abusive behavior for so long, it will only harbor ill-will and affect your mental and physical health.
Focus on YOU: One of the best things you can do to distract yourself from the constant negative attitude and behavior is to make time for yourself. Take up a hobby you've been meaning to, pick a sport or form of exercise to vent out your anger and frustration. Indulge in art that you enjoy.
Limit Contact: Where action doesn't work, avoidance may help. If you see no signs of improvement in the person's behavior after having repeatedly given him chances, staying away from him will be the best option for your benefit: both psychological and physical.
While every family has its set of fights, misunderstandings, rifts, and conflicts, prolonged negativity is what makes the relationship/s toxic. Because everyone may not have the option of simply leaving or moving out, the steps mentioned here may help them cope.
*Note: The use of the 'he/him' has been made purely for writing convenience, not to create or advocate gender bias.