A recent Facebook post triggered a host of ideas and issues like a steaming can of worms.
Toxic family behaviors that are normalized by society — things that can be mentally or emotionally harmful to one’s well-being but have been normalized and socially accepted.
In the aftermath of a Donald Trump presidency we have all been left in the wake of the toxic muck and mire his vileness released into a world that has yet to recover.
Despite the abundance of love — which many of us have for family members — some may come from families held together by abusive, critical, and manipulative behavior.
Toxic ties where the family thrives on negative behavior and relationships seep into every part of life. How toxic is our family? Here are some potential factors to consider.
1. Gossiping — A supportive, loving family may discuss an absent member — often to see how they can help out. Being nasty about family members to other family members is harmful behavior though.
2. Exploiting vulnerability — A parent or sibling knows family members enough to decipher how they tick and discover where triggers lie. Family members who abuse what they know about deep vulnerabilities can make each other feel bad or embarrass them in front of others.
3. Restrictions or oppression — Toxic families aren’t places of kindness and acceptance. Too ready to ridicule and criticize being openly different from what they expect or prefer.
4. Infighting and competition — When kids have to vie for parental attention or one child is made to feel better or worse it causes sibling envy and jealousy. If a parent treats children equally with love and affection — not have children behave a certain way to be worthy of their love — it’s a lot less likely to occur.
5. Abuse accepted, hidden or excused — Family abuse can be mental, emotional or physical. When abusive behavior is not called out for what it is or we keep quiet about things in order to preserve family harmony or reputation — the abuser is protected and allowed to get away with their behavior.
6. Outside the family narrative — Dysfunctional family members create narratives to support their needs — even if it means hiding or denying abusive behavior in the past. A created narrative — whether true or not — denies a dissenter their voice. Adults revisiting what happened as a child and told — it wasn’t that bad, they imagined it or even that it’s a lie — is unhealthy.
7. Volatile or unpredictable environments — When people use each other, play games, and manipulate the family foundation is weakened— often creating a volatile and unstable environment. Being the favorite one week and in trouble the next make family members unreliable or disloyal.
A member of a toxic family likely finds themself tired, upset, and confused when around their family.
Be reminded when using the term toxic — it is behavior and not the person that we are addressing. Noticing toxic or unhealthy behavior is the first step in making a long-term change.
People are capable of change — often only repeating behavior witnessed as a child and not fully conscious of perpetuating the cycle themselves.
A bad habit that can certainly be interrupted and changed any time.