Society often teaches us that we should prioritize our family relationships above all else because we are related, grew up together, and may have been raised by them.
Hearing these stereotypes may make you feel like every family sticks together, supporting and loving each other like on TV. So, when it feels like your family hates you or you belong to a toxic family, you may struggle to know how to react, some might even think "why do my parents hate me?" and carry this thought most of their life.
Why Does My Family Hate Me?
Coping with family interactions in a dysfunctional family can be upsetting and painful. You may feel your family hates you due to insecurities or self-esteem concerns. However, if your family acts unkind or seems to be struggling, look at the facts.
Is this a temporary situation, or has it been occurring long-term? Is it possible that something else, rather than hate or dislike, is going on? Has a family constituent told you they hate you? In some cases, you may be experiencing a personality clash with a family and not necessarily a toxic pattern. However, it isn't your fault if you are being treated poorly.
What would you tell someone going through your situation? From an outside perspective, it may feel clear that you're in an unjustified situation or experiencing a family conflict. If you start contemplating familial relationships and draw the conclusion that your family hates you, there is a chance you may have unhealthy family dynamics.
Staying in an unhealthy relationship may negatively impact your physical health. These situations could cause chronic inflammation, adrenal fatigue, heart problems, and low immunity. They might also impact your mental health, with an increased likelihood of stress, depression, and anxiety. Consider seeing a provider equipped to address any of these concerns if you encounter them.
Estrangement can happen for any number of reasons. No matter the state of the relationship before estrangement, it can feel challenging to adjust after leaving a toxic family situation. At times, cutting ties is permanent, and other times, it is temporary.
If applicable and safe, you might try to limit contact and set boundaries around how and when you communicate. Surround yourself with healthy support and relationships to lift you up, which can exist outside of blood relatives.
Family Doesn't Have To Be Biological
Throughout your life, and as an adult, you can pick a chosen family. You can pick who belongs in your family, regardless of whether you're related. These individuals may be friends, distant family or other types of relationships. Often, a chosen family is made of individuals who make you feel safe, loved, and cared for in the way a healthy family might.
How To Handle An Unhealthy Family
It can feel freeing to address and learn to cope with the feelings caused by toxic family relationships. It may have taken time for deep negative feelings to develop, so it may take time, strength, and perseverance to heal them. Knowing that you're breaking unhealthy patterns can also be valuable and uplifting.
Invest In Genuine Relationships
Rather than dwell on the unhealthy relationship you may have with your family, invest your energy in healthy interpersonal relationships. Work on building relationships with others who can love, support, and encourage you.
Setting boundaries is often more for you than for the other person. Ideally, these boundaries will benefit the relationship, but sometimes that isn't always possible, and you may put your own needs and well-being first.
Focus on being true to yourself and living authentically. Sometimes, unhealthy family dynamics mean we turn to people-pleasing behaviors, becoming the mediator, or trying to make ourselves disappear into the background. Now, it's time to live your life in a way that aligns with your values and beliefs. Be yourself and find people who love you for who you are.
Practicing gratitude has been linked to positive well-being and improved relationships. Gratitude does not necessarily mean you should neglect hurt, pain, unhealthy patterns, and other impacts of your experiences. It can be essential to acknowledge those aspects and process them.
However, gratitude can mean acknowledging the positive experiences that exist for you in this world and understanding that you deserve them.
Seek Professional Support
Coping with family-related matters, whether past or present, can feel challenging, and finding a support system as you work through these challenges can be beneficial. A therapist can help you learn the signs of a toxic family situation, navigate your feelings, guide you in modifying your behavior, and teach you emotional resilience. They can also help with concerns like self-esteem, which family relations may impact.
You might benefit from online counseling if you prefer to attend therapy from a comfortable and safe location, like your home. Online therapy has been well-studied over the last several years. The National Center for Health Research conducted a recent thorough review of dozens of studies on the efficacy of online therapy and found that online therapy is as effective or more effective than traditional therapy for various issues, including depression, PTSD, anxiety, and family troubles.
You can connect with a licensed therapist through an online platform such as BetterHelp, which allows you to use several communication methods, including videoconferencing, messaging, live chat, and voice calls.
Unhealthy families may be challenging to identify if you grew up in an unhealthy environment and aren't sure what a healthy family looks like. If you often feel judged, belittled, undervalued, or are being abused, you may need to cut ties with your family and seek outside support.
Therapy can be a beneficial tool to identify unhealthy family behaviors, learn to set boundaries, and find guidance in challenging circumstances. If you're ready to start, consider contacting a counselor.
Frequently Asked Questions
Below are some frequently asked questions on the top of unhealthy family dynamics.
What Is A Toxic Family?
A toxic family may be described as a family that uses unhealthy and unproductive methods to communicate with each other, including during tension or conflict. Unhealthy families can also be referred to as dysfunctional families, and their instability may negatively affect a person's well-being. It may lead to chronic mental health concerns such as anxiety and depression.
What Is Toxic Behavior?
Toxic families can appear differently from one another. For example, some toxic families may display the following behaviors:
Being overly criticizing or having unrealistic expectations
Not meeting needs such as food, shelter, love, and compassion
Lying, guilt-tripping, or ignoring boundaries
Being physically, verbally, or emotionally abusive
The terms "toxic" and "abusive" aren't interchangeable, but it may be possible for a family or person to be both. Toxic and dysfunctional families may also involve substance use. This use might further complicate the dynamic and encourage unhealthy behaviors in children.
Please call the SAMHSA helpline—available 24 hours a day, seven days a week—at 1-800-662-4357 for guidance, resources, and support if substance use impacts you or someone in your life.
Although direct toxicity may be limited to the household, its effects can impact other aspects of an individual's life, such as work and school. Individuals may also find that their family life has negatively impacted their ability to form interpersonal relationships or manage finances.
How Do You Know If Your Family Is Unhealthy?
Signs of an unhealthy family may include verbal and emotional abuse or physical violence. Other behaviors or dynamics may also show up, such as guilting family, suppressing emotions, or not teaching children life skills.
Additionally, without understanding or being able to observe functional family dynamics, those growing up with toxic family dynamics might not realize some of the behaviors are problematic because they don't know what healthy behavior or responses look like.
Identifying toxicity can be the first step to addressing it and getting help for any problems it can be causing. If you're unsure whether you're in a toxic situation, it may be beneficial to get insight from other loved ones you trust or seek support from a therapist to discuss your family dynamics. If something is bothering you, it may indicate something wrong.
What Is Toxic Parenting?
Being around a toxic family situation may affect people of all ages. However, it commonly starts during childhood. Having parents who practice unhealthy parenting may hamper an individual's upbringing. For example, a parental figure may:
Put their needs before yours
Ignore you when you require attention
Damage your self-esteem by making harmful jokes or being overly critical
Guilt-trip you, even over inconsequential things
Cause instability in the household
Make it tough to know what to expect next
How Do You Handle An Unhealthy Family?
Living in a home with individuals who are unhealthy to you can be challenging if you're unable to leave. You might need to set boundaries or find outside activities to keep you away from home. If you're experiencing abuse, you may need to report it to the authorities.
Try to find sources of positivity in your life and form interpersonal relationships with people who value you and respect your boundaries and needs. If you can, spend time with those individuals as much as possible.
Is It Okay To Cut Off A Toxic Family?
Many people choose to leave toxic family dynamics as adults, avoid family get-togethers, and go on to lead fulfilling lives by forming meaningful and supportive relationships with people whom they can depend on.
You may decide to utilize low contact with your family or eliminate contact with them altogether. The process may be complex, so discussing your choice with a counselor could be beneficial.
How Do You Walk Away From A Toxic Family?
If you're ready to walk away from your family or a particular family, find a safe place where you can go where the family won't be able to contact you. You might also change your phone number or make a new social media profile.
Call on the support of friends or supportive family if you need it. Once you leave, consider reaching out to a mental health professional to get further support.
What would you do if your family hates you?
Is family hating normal?
How do I get over my family hatred?
What are signs of a toxic family?
Is it selfish to move away from family?
Are my parents toxic or is it me?
What are things toxic parents say?
How do you know if you are a toxic person?
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