How To Deal With Toxic Family Members


Time to call poison control? Well, maybe
it’s not poison but how do we deal with toxic family members. Toxic. That brings
to mind poisonous, right? I went on the internet and did a little search for how
to deal with poison, toxin. As we talk about toxic family members, I think that
there’s some overlap here that might be helpful. 3 different strategies or
approaches. So, let’s just say that you’ve been exposed to something toxic.
Sometimes, when we’re out hiking or something we might brush up against some stinging nettle or some poison ivy. Those are toxic plants. And they cause a sting.
So, at this first level of intervention, let’s talk about how to rinse, cleanse
and dilute or diffuse. This is what you would want to do if you run across some
stinging nettle. For example, you want to rinse it off or somehow cleanse that.
Minimize the initial effects of the toxic exposure. So, in a relationship
setting, the initial sting can sometimes be diffused or diluted a little bit
through self-care. Taking care of yourself in a way that fortifies you
against these brushes. You’ll find that you’re much more resilient. For example,
when you’re getting enough sleep, when you’ve fed yourself well, you’ve got
proper nutrition. If you’re getting regular exercise. All of these
elements of self-care help to dilute the initial effect of having a toxic
interaction with someone. Another thing that’s been shown through the research
in the literature is debriefing. We use this primarily to address traumatic
incidents. But it’s also true in a toxic interaction with a family member, a
co-worker, someone in your world that has that sting. Being able to debrief
that with someone. Just talk it through. Tell them what happened.
Chat with someone about it. That helps to dilute the sting a little bit, initially.
And some of the long-term effects of that toxic interaction. And then finally,
on this first level of intervention, I would say, perspective is important. Keep
it in perspective. How big of a deal is it really. Now, I know in the moment, it
feels huge. But backing up from it, taking a higher perspective, a higher altitude
view of it. It starts to shrink down. I had an experience where I got to visit
the Arctic Circle in Rovaniemi Finland. When I was visiting, I saw this sign.
You’ve seen signs before that are, “You are here” kind of signs?
Well, this sign had a picture of the world, you know, the entire globe. And
there was a little dotted line around the top of it with an arrow pointing to
it and in Finnish, it said, “You are here.” And the perspective just almost blew my
mind. Because I was having some personal stress in my life, like we always do at
different phases of our life. And seeing that arrow pointing to the top of the
world, I realized, “Wow.” Most of the problems and the challenges that are
going on in the world are down below me somewhere. Because I’m up here on top of the world, literally. And it caused everything to shrink into a perspective
that said, you know what? It’s important to me but in the grand scheme of things,
“it’s probably not that big of a deal.” Keeping that kind of a perspective helps
to alleviate some of that initial sting as well. Now, let’s move to the second
level of dealing with that toxic or poisonous interaction. This is where it’s
already been ingested. Maybe it’s starting to have some effect, maybe it’s
more of a longer-term thing that you’re dealing with. We want to purge antidote,
counteract or remove, if possible, the poison, the toxin, from our system. So, as
that relates to relationships, we’re now getting into what we’re trying to do
here on this channel. Through positivity training. Conditioning our mind to see
things differently. Or to take something that’s already happened way back in the
past sometime. And rework that in our present thinking to the point where it’s
not having the same toxic effect. Therapy, counseling, coaching. These are all
examples of what we can do to deal with that toxic relationship that’s already
taken hold. That tends to be more long-term. And I would add to this,
building up and enhancing and enriching positive relationships. Think of it as an
antidote for some of the toxic ones. You’ll notice that, who you hang out with
matters. In fact, I’ve heard it so many times in the professional speaking
industry. That you become the average of the five people you hang out with the
most. We want to create positive, inspiring, uplifting, affirming
relationships in our life. Which will help us to counteract or provide an
antidote for some of the toxic ones that have shown up in the past. As I was
perusing through the poison control website and looking at some of the
resources there, it became obvious that a big part of their focus is this third
level of how we deal with toxins or poisons. And that has to do with
prevention, protection, avoidance of future or further contact with that
toxic element. Let’s apply that to the relationships. What can we do to provide
some level of protection or precaution that will protect us in the future from
experiencing that toxicity? I think one of the important things we
can do is to set appropriate boundaries and limits. Nobody else is going to do this
for you. So, it’s important that you identify, “what’s okay? What’s not okay?
What will I allow? What will I not allow? What positions am I willing to put
myself in versus what positions am i not going to get into?” You get to set these
limits. Setting them appropriately and assertively is a great way to protect
yourself from future toxic exposure. In doing this, we get to use assertive
communication. Assertive and aggressive are not the same thing. I’ve worked with
so many clients who feel a little resistance to the assertiveness training
that I do because they’re afraid it might come across as being mean. No, don’t be mean. Be very kind. You are a kind loving, generous, benevolent person. Show up that way and use assertive communication that sends a very clear
message to those around you about the boundaries we already talked about. Now a final thought on the protection end of things. It’s okay to opt out. When it
makes sense, when it’s appropriate. It’s okay for you to opt out of an event, an
interaction ,a conversation if it’s not going well for you. If it is in fact
toxic, this is a way that you can protect yourself against those effects. So, it’s
okay for example to say, “You know what? this conversation is not serving me well
right now.” And then opt out. If you’re on the phone, you can actually hang up. You
got a little button for that. I wonder if we could use that as part of
our protection plan. Yeah, of course you could. Now, I’m not saying that you should
avoid all people. Not at all. In fact, we want to to go back to what we already
talked about in building and enriching and enhancing those relationships that
are healthy and affirming and positive. We want to do that all day long. It is
okay for you to opt-out of some of the things
that would draw you into that toxic exposure. I think we can learn a lot from
poison control. And maybe that will improve our relationships as well. I
guess the same principles apply. Whether we’re dealing with poison or toxic
interactions. I hope you found this helpful comment down below. Let’s have a conversation about what we’re learning. i standing in the street alone alone

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