Here’s how to deal with a toxic family member

Having a toxic influence in your life, in any form, can be gruelling. Even worse is when the toxicity comes in the form of a person, and further, when that person happens to be your family.

It is certainly easier to cut ties with toxic people who aren’t your own kin, and the prospect of severing ties with someone in your own family who is toxic isn’t exactly a peppy one. It isn’t impossible, however, to disassociate yourself with a toxic family member, and better yet, it doesn’t have to be nearly as awful and painful as we may anticipate it to be.

One of the best ways to handle someone toxic in your own family, in my opinion, is to approach the relationship with them with utmost neutrality. Don’t get too personal or share too many details of your personal life with them; rather, share only what you must, keep conversation at a minimum, and keep their presence at a distance. If you’re at a family event with them, it may be tempting to disregard their existence entirely, although other family members will likely acknowledge your reluctance to engage with them. Keeping things to a bare minimum in terms of conversation and interaction is one of the safest ways to handle an encounter with a toxic family member.

Another thing to keep in mind with a toxic family member is the idea that, regardless if they’re your blood or not, if they are an overwhelmingly negative influence on your and your mental health, you really don’t owe them shit and can, therefore, choose to refrain from associating with them. If they try to make conversation with you, cut it short and walk away. If they try to become involved in your business, subtly make it known to them that you’re not interested in their meddling and stop sharing information with them. In time, your choice to seclude yourself from them will be noticed, and perhaps they will get the hint.

We don’t get to choose our family, but we do get to choose which family members we wish to be part of our lives.

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