Managing Toxic Family Dynamics and the Holidays

Toxic Family Dynamics and the Holidays

Family togetherness over the holidays can be a joyous thing. It can also be triggering. 

If you come from a family that has toxic dynamics, these will most likely play out whenever you are in the company of your family members. 

In the days leading up to the holidays you may experience anxiety and stress. 

How can you cope and manage this holiday? 

Remember that you cannot control others. What you can control is how you respond to them.

Toxic families are those in which the members regularly do things to harm one another and create negative effects in the lives of each other. This has an adverse effect on your mental health. Being around toxic family members is a taxing experience. The holidays, which may already be a time of stress and pressure, can become more so with the presence of a toxic istanbul escort relative. 

There are a number of traits that toxic relatives display 

Toxic people do not ordinarily have anything nice or positive to say. They are often critical, project blame, and see no fault in themselves. 

When you are around someone like this, you may feel inner agitation. Your stress and anxiety levels will go up. You may also start to feel physical symptoms of stress and anxiety such as headache, stomachache, shakiness, and increased heartbeat. 

Your past experiences with the person may trigger you again. This can make it harder for you to engage with others present and to enjoy yourself. 

On special occasions, toxic people are usually the ones who ruin it for others. Their push out their negative energy onto others, and may be abusive. They make others feel like they have to be on eggshells around them. They are often unpredictable. It is hard to tell what will set them off and cause them to lash out. Their dysfunction causes discomfort and awkwardness for those around them.

Some toxic people engage in passive-aggressive behavior, some are straight-up aggressive. They may also gaslight you and be manipulative. 

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How to Deal with Toxic Relatives this Season

Establish Boundaries

One of the most important things you can do to protect yourself is to establish clear personal boundaries. You may find it hard to do this, but it is necessary. Toxic people do what they do in part because they want you to engage with them. They need you to participate in their dysfunctional behavior, whether as a victim or as an audience. If your boundaries are trampled over, you must disengage, walk away, or end the interaction. You do not need to justify or explain yourself. Do not participate in the volatility or the conflict. It will only serve to drain your energy and create tension. 

Regulate Your Response

As mentioned before, a good defense against toxicity is to be aware of your own response. You cannot control others. But you can control your response. You are in charge of whether you engage, walk away, leave the gathering, stand up for yourself, or reassert your boundaries. Once you are able to regulate your responses, the power is taken away from the toxic person and is in your hands. The dynamics change just by being aware of and adjusting your own reactions. 

Be aware of your part in engaging with patterns that repeat themselves year after year. Once you recognize repetitive behavioral and conversational patterns, you will be able to avoid them. 

Accept It for What it Is

This ties into our previous point. Accept that you cannot control others. With this will come the acceptance that your toxic family or relative is most likely not going to change. They may never be who you need them to be. You may never be accepted by them or receive an apology. They may not offer you acknowledgement or validation. It is likely that you will not get closure or a resolution. This can be very hard to accept. Every time you meet this person you will be reminded of this. However, every time you meet this person this fact will be confirmed – they will not change. 

Manage your expectations of what your meeting with a toxic relative will be like. This also means having realistic expectations for the gathering in general. 

Be Self-Compassionate

Being around family members with which there is a dysfunctional dynamic is an exhausting experience. It can leave you doubting, judging, and over-analyzing yourself. Remember to show yourself kindness. You may have gotten triggered, upset, or had to cut off a conversation. These things are disturbing, especially in the midst of a holiday event. Give yourself the compassion and inner space to feel and process your troubling emotions. 

In the days leading up to the event, and after, make sure that you take some time for self-care. This means that you pay attention to your needs. Get enough rest, watch your eating patterns, and make time for some sort of physical activity. When we are tired or not eating properly, we feel stress more keenly. Going outside, taking a walk is a great way to refresh and reset your thoughts. 

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Reach Out for Support

Handling toxic people is not easy. When the person in question is a family member that you cannot completely disengage from, it can start to wear on your mental wellbeing. 

Toxic dynamics can cause a lot of distress and confusion. This is where therapy can help. Mental health services such as anxiety therapy, trauma therapy, and joint/family therapy can be especially useful. Through treatment, you will learn skills you need to process and heal from a toxic family dynamic. It will also provide you the tools you need to manage the toxic people currently in your life. You will learn ways to cope and protect your emotional and mental health. 

Trust Mental Health has a team of therapists that come from a wide array of backgrounds and experience. Our therapists are multilingual and offer in-person as well as online/virtual therapy. Contact us today for a free 15 minute consultation. We will match you with a therapist best suited to your specific needs.

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