It is a common occurrence that people talk about toxic or abusive relationship, but what exactly is toxic or abusive relationship? There are some indicators of a toxic relationship, such as the following:
1. When there is any sort of abuse in the relationship: mental, physical, sexual, verbal, or emotional.
2. When your only interaction with them is negative.
3. When the relationship causes you so much stress that it interferes with your personal or professional life.
4. When you're burdened with the rumours about you, trying to correct false information, and continually being ostracized to the point that you feel insomniac.
5. When it seems that the relationship is all about the other person, and there's no reason why the other person can't put out any effort to keep the connection healthy and stable.
6. When behaviors such as the silent treatment, blame games, and no-win arguments that spin around on you, take over the relationship.
Any toxic relationship is horrible, but it's even worse when it's with your parents or family members, because they're the ones who are supposed to protect and love you. If left unaddressed, this is a high-level betrayal that will follow the victim for the rest of their life.
Effects of living in a chronically toxic family environment
People, who spend their life especially their childhood and adolescence, in a toxic home/family environment, may develop the following issues:
1. They may develop low self-esteem and harsh judgments of self and others.
2. They may feel discomfort in presence of authority figures in social situations and at work place.
3. They may have a constant need for approval to make up for their shortcomings.
4. Such people may develop feelings of fear and intimidation in the face of any hostile circumstance or personal criticism (such people often feel anxious and overly sensitive in social situations).
5. They might be less attracted to healthy, loving people; instead, they are more likely to unconsciously seek out another "dysfunctional family" (choose to date emotionally distant people/attracted to other victims in their romantic and interpersonal connections).
6. They act with super-responsibility or super-irresponsibility because they have never been made to feel responsible for their own problems in a healthy way.
7. When they devote care to themselves, they feel guilty however, they are over caring for others.
8. They have difficulty expressing their emotions especially negative ones.
9. They may develop dependent personalities because of an unreasonable fear of rejection or abandonment; as a result, they stay in problematic jobs/partnerships and are unable to exit destructive relationships or enter healthy and rewarding ones.
10. They might develop feelings of hopelessness and helplessness due to chronic denial, loneliness, and uncontrolled and misguided guilt that they receive in that toxic family environment.
11. They may have lot of difficulties in intimate relationships marked by sense of insecurity and lack of trust in others, lack of defined boundaries. They may feel trapped in their partner's wants and emotions.
12. They may have a strong need to be in control, thus they prefer to behave impulsively before contemplating alternative behaviours or probable consequences.
Ways to deal with toxic home environment:
Treating a toxic relationship, let alone getting out of it, can be difficult or even impossible. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to begin the process of healing and living your best life.
Here are a few things you can do to deal with it:
1. Define Your Personal Boundaries
What do you believe is right or wrong for you? As we grow old, we find what we believe is good or bad, correct or incorrect for us. It's all part of the process of becoming an individual, growing as a person, and eventually becoming interdependent on society once you've discovered who you are and what your life stands for.
Unfortunately, when we have toxic people in our lives, their manipulation tactics can almost completely obliterate who we are and what our limits are. You must first understand how they work, their patterns, and how they effect you before you can do anything else.
Because they know you and most likely live with you, toxic family members can easily get under your skin. They've got the tools to go under your skin. This is where you need to decide what you will bear and what you will not bear.
What matters is whether it's right or wrong for you. By understanding exactly what you'll tolerate and what you won't – and why - you can decide how far you're ready to let someone infringe on your boundaries before it's simply not worth it anymore.
It's time to enforce your boundaries when you've determined what they are. It will be challenging at first, but as you practice, you will become stronger. It's okay if you fail a few times at first; toxic individuals are persistent, and breaking patterns is difficult, but keep practicing until you get it.
One of the characteristics of toxic people is that they will repeatedly walk over your boundaries with no regard for you or how many times you put them up. Thus you should know that the boundaries with toxic family members are more for you than for them.
2. Maintain a healthy distance from them
Putting distance between you and toxic family members is one of the best things you can do. If you can't put enough physical distance between you and your toxic family member, becoming emotionally detached is your best alternative. That is, avoiding telling your family stuff about yourself, your interests, objectives, or experiences that have irritated or saddened you.
Toxic family members will exploit whatever information you feed them against you, whether it is positive or negative. Rather, stick to yourself and play along without becoming engrossed in their plotting. It's fine to refuse to answer their queries or to explain that you don't want to discuss a particular topic.
3. Stop arguing
Is it true that every time you try to distance yourself from your family, there is some sort of drama or argument? Don't be taken in by it, and don't argue with it. Then get back to adjusting the distance between you.
Toxic family members will try to entice you with an argument that you will almost certainly lose and that will make you feel terrible. Even if they manage to strike a chord with you, don't engage. Recognize that you'll have to pick and choose your battles. So, decide which debates and struggles are truly worthwhile and save your energy for something else.
4. Stand firm in your convictions
To be able to start moving out of these toxic relationships, you must first acquire a strong sense of who you are as a person. It's not easy, but there are a few things you should consider.
One is to not expect perfection from others or oneself. You will encounter difficulties along the way, but the key is to keep going. In the same vein, don't pass judgement on yourself. Shame and guilt will only make you feel worse. Regardless of what your family tells you, there's nothing to feel guilty or ashamed about.
It may be difficult to grasp at first, but you do not require the approval of that toxic family member. You are the only one who understands what is good or harmful for you, so you just need your own approval. The majority of toxic people project or push their own insecurities onto others. Once you understand this dynamics, there is no need to take anything personally. It has always been and will continue to be their problems, not yours.
Acknowledge your own talents and flaws. Your weaknesses and strengths are not bad, and they are not a death sentence, despite what your family members may try to convince you. Finding and holding on to yourself is the first step toward liberating yourself from toxic patterns and cycles.
5. Seek professional help
Who can you rely on? When it comes to stopping the pattern of abuse, finding support is also critical. When things go tough because of your toxic family's attempts to lure you back in, they'll be the people you lean on.
Finding a psychotherapist who can assist you with this is a good start. Also, meet new people that aren't related to your family in any way. Get out of there, if you can and find your peace somewhere else.
Healing and breaking free from abuse is a lengthy process. Don't put too much pressure on yourself. This journey will force you to delve deeper into yourself and others, as well as your own beliefs. You'll have to go through a breakage before you can start rebuilding, but you'll get through it. Nobody deserves to be abused, and you deserve better. Put sincere efforts so that the intergenerational cycle of abuse ends and you give yourself and your next generation an emotionally healthy life.
Consultant Clinical Psychologist
Centre for Mental Health Services,