It may take some time to figure out if you’re not used to setting boundaries. Family members who cross boundaries often do so because they know they can control someone more easily when that person is readily available and accessible. Remember that many people have loose boundaries with people they feel uncomfortable saying “no” to because most people avoid conflict. Creating personal limits helps reduce this type of manipulative behavior.
Some ways that you can establish boundaries with a toxic family member are :
Openly communicate your limits.
Reiterate and uphold your boundaries.
Don’t be afraid to tell them “no.”
Limit how much time you’re around them.
Keep communication minimal and to the point
This is easier said than done since there will be occasions where seeing toxic relatives is imminent. When you have to communicate, one important thing to remember is not to share any personal information that can be used against you later. You can also use the “gray rock method.” This involves making yourself about as interesting as a rock. It means giving short, straight answers to questions and trying to have a flat affect (hiding your emotional reactions) to the things a person says or does. The theory is that they’ll move on if they can’t get any emotional responses or feedback from you.
Avoid getting drawn into arguments
It is essential to avoid getting caught up in any interaction, especially when it might lead to an argument. Sometimes it’s hard not to speak up when you witness someone saying or doing something inappropriate, but it’s crucial for your well-being to learn how to control yourself in these moments.
Anything you say may be used against you to control and break you down so that the toxic person can easily manipulate you. Try to avoid getting yourself cornered alone. This makes it harder for them if they want to try and initiate an argument. If they do get confrontational, don’t engage- just walk away or leave the event if possible.
Make sure you have a support system
Even if you can’t always avoid toxic family members, you can surround yourself with people you get along with to create a positive support system. Having people you can rely on will make dealing with any problematic situation easier. Some of them may even have the same concerns and reservations as you.
Be prepared for pushback
When setting healthy boundaries for yourself, you will probably get some pushback from the toxic family member. They might become angry, argumentative, or try to guilt you into breaking your boundaries. It’s essential to stand firm and not give in to their manipulation. If they continue to push, you can always leave the situation or end the conversation. You might also want to consider speaking with a mental health professional such as a therapist or counselor, to help you deal with the toxic family member in a healthy way.
Cut off contact
When you have done everything you can, and it is not working, it might be time to cut ties with a toxic family member. This means that you stop trying to have a relationship with this person. You have tried everything you can think of, and it is not working. Sometimes people try to communicate differently to make the relationship work, but it does not help. Sometimes doing this is necessary for your mental health and well-being.
If you’re stressing out about how to handle toxic family members during the holidays- or any time of year, talking to a therapist can be a big help. A therapist can provide support and guidance as you deal with difficult family dynamics. Serene Health has a wide variety of behavioral health and mental health services under one roof and flexible appointments available through our Telehealth platform so that you can speak to a therapist online from wherever you choose to get the help you need.
Call us at 844-737-3638 or visit www.serenehealth.com to schedule an appointment.