Not everyone warms up to their family. Sometimes, we may find ourselves even hating them.
So what should you do if you hate your family?
We asked experts to give some advice:
Author | Talk Show Host | Speaker
Make a decision from a place within you that is not seeking revenge
Having survived a homicidal alcoholic father and an abusive brother, I know a thing or two about the various stages a person goes through before getting to a place where they completely give up on their family.
Anger and hate are two emotions that propel a person through those stages.
Before you get to a place of complete shutdown and go no-contact with your family, here are my top three tips for handling the holidays with a family you hate:
Know your baseline
Your level of self-awareness is key to maintaining good emotional health. Being aware of your moods, as well as what makes you feel low and how to recover will empower you to maintain self-control.
You’ll be able to limit your family’s ability to push your hot buttons and strengthen your ability to smile in the midst of turmoil. Once you are tuned-in to your baseline, behave accordingly. Don’t plan to interact with people you hate if you’re already in the dumps.
Take time to immerse yourself in a loving environment where you are treasured. Really get your energy up to an optimal level. Knowing your baseline will help you create a go-to list of energy boosters, so you’re always ready.
Identify a FOC
Find a family that has healthy dynamics and spends as much time around them as you possibly can. I call this type of family, a Family of Choice (FOC).
Exposing yourself to a family with healthy conflict resolution and unconditional love will keep you balanced. It will enable you to maintain a clear mind and a loving heart.
It is true that we become the people we spend the most time around and what we think about the most, expands. Take the time to expand your network of great FOCs. It’s a wonderful way to reinforce becoming the good you’d like to in the world.
Maturity over guilt
Make decisions from a place of emotional maturity, not guilt. You will face making a decision to call or not to call, or even to visit or not to visit, the family you hate at least three times a year (Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, Birthdays, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Festival of Lights, the breaking of Ramadan, etc.).
Ensure that you make the decision from a place within you that is not seeking revenge, dreading the impending interaction or opting not to be alone. Start with a healthy you, limit your time with the people you hate to the moment your baseline begins to sink. Then, end the day with an activity that you find very uplifting.
These three tips are a great start to helping you design a life that obeys the golden rule, To Thine Own Self Be True. Remember that you pour into the world from your unconscious core. If your core is unhealthy, your spreading the very thing you wish to eradicate, hate. Be mindful!
Julie Williamson, LPC, NCC, RPT
Therapist | Founder, Abundant Life Counseling St. Louis, LLC
It’s important to set boundaries with difficult family members
Here are three ways to do that:
Know that it’s okay to say no to family gatherings
Is your schedule packed around the time of the gathering? Is the gathering planned at the last minute?
Dealing with difficult family members requires energy, and if your schedule is already packed or you’re already annoyed at the last minute planning of a get-together, consider if the event will give you quality time with your family, or if you’re more likely to snap out due to a crazy schedule and not wanting to be around certain family members in the first place.
I encourage people to consider quality over quantity. If you’re going to an event just to show your face, but harbor resentment for the timing of the event, it’s alright to say no, or to drop in for a short period of time.
It’s okay to take a break from relatives staying in your home
If you notice your energy decreasing and your mood taking a turn for the worse, give yourself permission to take a break from entertaining and being around your guests.
Provide them with the Wifi password, magazines, and the remote control, and retreat to your room for a nap or run out to get a quiet cup of coffee. This will help refresh you and give you energy for engaging with them, and give you stamina when feeling particularly irritated.
Decide when, how, and what controversial topics you will engage in conversation about
Also, decide who and what behavior may irritate you the most. You have the right to decline an invitation into a political conversation, and can let your relative know that you’d prefer not to talk politics over eggnog.
Or, if you do decide to accept the invitation, stay present, and remain aware of what is occurring in your body and brain, in order to have the most accurate information with which to respond to.
It’s important to remember that your opinions–no matter how thoughtful and well researched they may be–are yours and not the other person’s. It is unlikely that you will convince them otherwise, just as they probably won’t convince you out of your opinion. Accept the difference, and move on to a new topic if you find yourself getting heated.
It’s important to remember that –as much as we might like to or as much as we might try–we cannot change our family members. We can change how we cope and respond to them, however.
Senior Manager, People Looker
Find some common ground
Whether you get along or not, you’re might need to see your family on occasion, even if it’s just over the holidays. When the time comes, it’s good to be prepared with some light, pleasant conversation topics that could potentially give way to bonding.
Before your next visit, do a bit of research on your family. Look at their social media accounts to see if you have any common interests or tastes you can discuss, like movies, music, sports, food, etc.
How to handle gatherings with family you don’t get along with:
Our families are often our biggest critics. A family gathering may bring with it a smorgasbord of opinions and advice from siblings, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and cousins.
And they all like to put in their two cents about what you should be doing in life. In situations like this, remain confident. They don’t live your life and although you’ll listen to their advice, you don’t have to follow it.
Realize you probably can’t change the opinions of others
You can avoid arguments by realizing something you’ve probably figured out in life on your own already—trying to change someone’s opinion (especially an older family member)—is just about useless.
People don’t change their minds by arguing with them. Attempting to change your uncle’s mind will only get you both more defensive of your opinions.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it normal to feel hatred toward my family?
It’s not uncommon for individuals to experience negative emotions towards their family members, including hatred. Family relationships can be complex and challenging, and it’s not unusual for people to have conflicts or disagreements with their family members.
However, it’s important to remember that family is a vital source of support and love for many people, and it’s natural to have a range of emotions toward them.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed or struggling to manage your emotions, talking to a mental health professional may be helpful as they can provide support and guidance and help you work through your feelings in a healthy and constructive way.
What are the reasons for feeling hatred towards my family?
There could be various reasons for feeling hatred towards your family. Some of the most common reasons include:
• Unresolved conflict: Past conflicts or misunderstandings can create feelings of hatred if not properly addressed and resolved.
• Emotional or physical abuse: If you have been subjected to any form of abuse from a family member, it’s natural to harbor negative feelings towards them.
• Unmet emotional needs: Feeling unloved, unsupported, or neglected by your family can lead to intense feelings of resentment and hatred.
• Personality clashes: Sometimes, people’s personalities and values simply don’t align, resulting in tension and negative emotions.
• Mental health issues: Depression, anxiety, or other mental health conditions can sometimes exacerbate negative feelings towards others, including family members.
Is my family toxic or is it me?
Determining whether your family is toxic or if the issue stems from your perspective can be challenging. Here are a few signs of a toxic family environment:
• Consistent negativity: A toxic family environment is often characterized by persistent negativity, criticism, and blame.
• Lack of boundaries: Toxic family members may invade your personal space, disregard your feelings, or fail to respect your boundaries.
• Manipulation and control: If your family members consistently use guilt, threats, or other manipulative tactics to influence your decisions or control your behavior, this is a sign of a toxic environment.
• Emotional or physical abuse: Any form of abuse, whether emotional, physical, or sexual, indicates a toxic family dynamic.
• Unhealthy competition: Excessive competition among family members, especially when it leads to jealousy, resentment, or a lack of support, can contribute to a toxic environment.
How do I know if I am the problem in my family?
Determining if you are the problem in your family requires honest self-reflection and introspection. Consider the following aspects:
• Communication: Reflect on your communication style and how it might contribute to misunderstandings or conflicts within your family. Are you open to listening and understanding others’ perspectives, or do you become defensive and shut down?
• Emotional maturity: Assess your ability to regulate your emotions, empathize with others, and take responsibility for your actions. If you struggle with these skills, you might unintentionally contribute to the issues within your family.
• Patterns of behavior: Examine your behavior in various family situations. Do you often instigate arguments or engage in passive-aggressive behavior? Identifying unhealthy patterns can help you understand your role in the family dynamic.
• Feedback from others: Listen to the feedback of your family, and seek input from trusted friends or professionals to gain a more objective perspective on your role in your family’s conflicts.
Should I cut my toxic family out of my life?
The decision to cut a toxic family out of your life is a deeply personal one and should be made with careful consideration. Here are some factors to consider:
• Your well-being: Prioritize your physical, emotional, and mental well-being. If maintaining a relationship with your family is detrimental to your health and well-being, distancing yourself might be necessary.
• Attempts to resolve issues: Reflect on your efforts to address the problems within your family. If you have tried multiple approaches without success, cutting ties might be the next step.
• Support system: Evaluate your support system outside of your family. Having a strong network of friends, mentors, or therapists can help you cope with the challenges of cutting ties with your family.
• Gradual distancing: Instead of completely cutting off contact, consider gradually reducing the frequency and intensity of interactions with your toxic family members. This approach can help you assess the impact of distancing on your well-being and make an informed decision.
• Professional guidance: Seeking professional help, such as therapy or counseling, can provide valuable insights into your family dynamics and help you determine if cutting ties is the best course of action.
How do you heal when your family hurts you?
Healing from family-related pain can be a challenging but necessary journey. Here are some steps to guide you through the process:
• Acknowledge your feelings: Permit yourself to feel hurt, angry, or sad. Validating your emotions is the first step toward healing.
• Seek professional help: A mental health professional, such as a therapist or counselor, can provide support, guidance, and coping strategies to help you process and heal from your family-related pain.
• Set boundaries: Establish and maintain healthy boundaries with your family members to protect your well-being and promote healthier relationships.
• Develop a support system: Surround yourself with friends, mentors, or support groups that provide understanding, encouragement, and a sense of belonging.
• Practice self-compassion: Be gentle with yourself during the healing process. Understand that healing takes time and setbacks are a normal part of the journey.
• Focus on personal growth: Engage in activities that promote personal growth, such as reading self-help books, practicing mindfulness, or participating in workshops or seminars.
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