My mother has always instilled in my sisters and me the importance of family. She would tell us that even if we are having issues with our friends, coworkers, or anyone else, we will still have our family. Family is extremely important to me, and I stressed that to my children as well. However, my mother never talked about that family members could also be toxic, and you might want to reconsider them being part of your life if they impact your mental health.

Do Not Let Someone Hurt Your Self Esteem

It doesn’t matter who the person is. Please do not allow them to make you feel horrible about yourself and your life. A family could start feeling like they compete with you even if you don’t feel the same and are just going on in your life. Therefore, if good things happen in your life, they might feel jealous and/or resentful. If bad things are, they might relish in your misery. You can usually tell when someone is genuine. If they aren’t, then either limit the amount of time you speak and see them. If that doesn’t help, then it’s time to consider stopping any communication.

Do Not Support You In Bad Times

Everyone goes through a rough spot—some than others. If you have family members who are only around and supporting you when you are going through good times but not there when you aren’t, they are not genuine. They should be around to help you. Helping doesn’t have to be tangible. It can be as simple as listening to you.

Bully You When You Don’t Tell Them What They Want to Hear

Yes, a family can be bullies too. If they say comments or badmouth you behind your back and it’s to the point of excess, then they are bullying you. Family should not be there to cause you stress or feel like you are being penalized. If they do, then they are not the true meaning of the word family.

Supporting People Who Have Caused You Pain

Family should not be supportive of people who are causing you pain. If someone is causing you suffering, and your family member is going on excursions with them and taking pictures to memorialize the moment, they are toxic. Toxicity is not something you want in your life, especially if you are going through a tough time. I remember this guy I knew once called this friend of mine a “Pyschic Vampire.” I didn’t know what he meant, but I do now. If that person makes you feel like they are sucking your soul (I am being dramatic) out of you, then limit the time you spend with them.

I’ve only had two therapists who I love. The first one I went to was when I was trying to cope with the grief I felt after losing my younger sister. I went to her for two years, and we didn’t just speak about grieving but about other parts of my life. She said something to me that stuck with me. You teach people how you want to be treated. If you are allowing them to continue gaslighting, bullying, and/or attacking you, then you need to stop and think, “Would I allow anyone to treat my best friend or my child like that?” The answer will be no. If I’m right, then why are you allowing them to treat you in that way? Don’t.

If they are older relatives, you can’t tell them off like you would younger ones. I say this because I was taught to respect my elders. Therefore, the only alternative is to respectfully tell them that you will not be around them too much if they continue. Eventually, they will get the hint if they want to continue having a relationship with you. If they don’t, then you have to ask yourself if your mental health can take continuing to be around that person.

We only have one life to live, so don’t spend your time around people, making you feel stressed, sad, and depressed. It’s not worth it. I learned this a few years ago. I stopped talking to some family members for a bit until they realized that I wouldn’t take their behavior anymore. There are others that I have stopped talking to altogether. It was sad, but I feel better because I don’t have that heaviness that one usually carries when you are beaten down.

Take care of yourself, and don’t let it happen just because they are family.

spolastre