We all have that one family member who drives us crazy. Sometimes they’re a little annoying or nitpicky, but other times, they’re just plain mean. It can be tough to cut ties with a friend or acquaintance who is not good for you, but it’s even more difficult with a relative. How can you deal with a toxic person you live with or have to see at family gatherings?
Most (if not all) of your family will probably agree that your relative is dreadful. Connect with someone who can support you. If you need to leave the room and vent, ask that person to come with you. Have them change the subject or stick up for you if your mean relative starts to pick on you. Offer to do the same for them.
Don’t fuel the fire
There are usually certain topics of conversation that will set off a toxic family member. Maybe they think your job as a musician is a waste and you should have gone to medical school. If they’ve had a dispute with a family member who isn’t present, why bring up the topic? If the touchy subject comes up, find a way to talk about something else. This is where your ally can come in as well.
Keep them distracted
If it’s Thanksgiving and the potatoes still need to be peeled and mashed, ask them to do it. If they insist on talking about their dog or the neighborhood gossip for hours on end, let them. Allowing them to stay busy will keep them away from you.
Watch your own behavior
Determine if they are the only person at fault, or if there is something you could have contributed to the conflict. Often, we might not have started the fight, but our reaction might have made it worse. Evaluate how you respond to them and see if you can handle the situation differently.
Let them go
If you’ve tried all of these methods countless times, and your family member still finds a way to degrade you, it’s time to cut them off. This is easier said than done, but it’s vital to your wellbeing. No one should tolerate abuse from anyone, especially family.