How to Cope With Toxic Parents

Psychology
3 weeks ago

Your existence might transform into a confining cell when your parents persistently reinforce the notion that you fall short of their expectations. This relentless barrage can significantly impact your adult life, leaving you bereft of self-assurance, personal convictions, and an inner voice that questions and critiques. Recovery isn’t a sudden burst of determination, but rather a gradual voyage facilitated by sound guidance. Seek out the bonus section that sheds light on the signs of growing up in a toxic family.

1. Stop trying to please them.

If you don’t like what your parents have in mind for you, you don’t have to listen to them.

What to do: Please yourself, not them — it’s okay to put yourself first.

Remember: Generosity and pleasing people are 2 different things. True generosity comes from genuine and healthy self-respect in sharing that joy. But pleasing people comes from lowering that self-esteem and seeking your parents’ approval.

2. Rebuild the opinions you have.

Not knowing how to express your feelings and thoughts in a healthy way means living with toxic parents. When there’s another, stronger voice next to you, it’s easy to get lost.

What to do: Practice expressing your opinions with someone you trust, such as a friend or another family member. For example, when it’s time to go out with your friends, suggest a place you’d like to go and say something like, «What do you think about going to the movies instead?»

Remember: Preferences are not something to pick a fight about. It’s about honesty, even when you hear someone else’s opinion, like, "I hear what you’re saying, but I see the situation differently.

3. Stop judging yourself.

If you were abused, ignored, or criticized as a child; in your mind, you’re probably used to harsh self-talk. We tend to get stuck on cruel messages from other people, but you can change your thoughts.

What to do: Become aware of the critical voice inside your head and write down the things it says. Next to these, write a positive thought to replace them. This could look like: «You’ll never be good as others,» to «No one can take my place.»

Remember: Go for a walk, take a nap, visit your favorite place, or do anything you like to do. If you see that your critical voice is about to surface when you do these activities, block it by saying, «I am valuable, and it’s important for me to have some fun or rest.»

4. Set and enforce boundaries.

Setting clear boundaries will limit how other people treat you. It creates physical and emotional space between you and your parents that you probably didn’t have growing up.

What to do: Setting boundaries with your parents starts with deciding what’s off limits and what you’re willing to do. Think ahead about what you don’t want to share with them. For example, say no to surprise visits, since it’s up to you who you spend the holidays with, and return their messages and phone calls when you’re ready.

Remember: Relationships should be built on respect, and you don’t get that from people who treat you badly. It may be uncomfortable at first to set boundaries and tell your parents how you want them to treat you.

5. Try not to be in the presence of other toxic people.

Growing up with toxic parents probably means that you missed out on nurturing, warmth, and love. This draws you closer to people who share the same qualities as your parents. You may inadvertently seek out someone with a similar personality to get the support you didn’t get from your parents.

What to do: Ask yourself questions that will help you become aware of the type of people you surround yourself with, such as «What do they have in common?» or «What do you do that’s almost the same as the relationship you had with your parents?» or «What keeps you with them?»

Remember: Other toxic people can have the same negative influence on your life, and you won’t find the warmth, love, and nurturing you miss in them either.

6. Realize that it’s okay to let go.

Loyalty can sometimes get in the way of protecting yourself. Letting go may seem like the hardest decision to make, but it’s a very important one.

What to do: Even if toxic people don’t deserve all the attention they get, it’s in our nature to connect. That’s why letting them go may be the best thing you can do. The state of your relationship is not your fault.

Remember, you’ve been through so much, so don’t think you’re not strong enough to stand up for yourself. You’re the one who can make a choice, and once you do, you’ll begin to heal.

7. Don’t tell them everything.

Trust is a key element of a strong and healthy relationship, and personal information should only be shared with people you trust. In the case of toxic parents, they don’t fall into this category. Especially if they criticize you, gossip about you, and share things without your permission.

What to do: Be conscious of what you share with your parents. Ask yourself questions before you share, such as «What doesn’t feel safe?» or "What does feel safe to share with my parents?

Remember, you don’t have to tell them everything, so share only what makes you feel safe and comfortable.

8. Control where you meet.

Toxic parents are most comfortable at home and in other family-friendly places. That’s because these are the places where they have the power to control you.

What to do: The next time you want to meet your parents, choose a public place surrounded by other people. There, you may be in control because they don’t have the same opportunity to fall back into their old ways. Even if they do fall back into their old patterns, you’ll be able to get up and leave.

Remember, when you have control over where you meet your parents, you also have control over their behavior.

Bonus: 4 signs you grew up in a toxic family

You’re afraid of manipulation. It is quite common for toxic families to use manipulation to control other family members. On a daily basis, this behavior is not normal and turns into emotional abuse. This can make you feel less able to trust the people around you and prevent you from having relationships. Feeling constantly manipulated by your family can also lead to avoidance behavior.

They have difficulty with social interactions and trusting others. If someone grew up in a tense atmosphere, around manipulation and other psychological abuse, it leaves its mark on that person. Some parents may not have been able to give their child the support they needed, and in another scenario, someone may live in a family where they feel they have to be on guard at all times. Later, it will be difficult to shake off the feeling of having to be in that state all the time. Eventually, it can become difficult to trust and open up to other people.

They may have a hard time dealing with failure. Children may constantly feel that they are not good enough or even worthless if they were raised in a toxic environment. Their parents may have always expected too much of them and blamed them when they didn’t live up to their expectations. In essence, they have developed a low sense of self-worth and a lack of self-care. That’s why the slightest mistake or failure can set them off and lead to a tantrum.

They lack a sense of self-identity. Positive family «esteem» is a critical element for us when we talk about our mental health. It’s as important as feeling loved and belonging. If the relationship between a child and his or her parents is abusive, the child may begin to have problems with his or her inner world, identity, and self-esteem. This leads to negative effects such as anxiety and even depression.

While these steps can help you navigate toxic family dynamics, remember, toxic environments can exist beyond the home. Stay tuned for our next article, where we uncover 10 unmistakable signs indicating it might be time to bid farewell to your job, even if the paycheck seems promising.

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