We all want to have happy and healthy family relationships. Instead, many families are plagued by at least one toxic member who causes conflict and dysfunction. Many people will continue to tolerate this family member no matter how much negativity they bring. But you don’t have to, and you shouldn’t. Before you choose to remove a toxic family member from your life though, consider these lessons.
It hurts, but it is necessary.
Most of us truly love our families. They are the people who have been in your life the longest generally. They are supposed to be the people who love you unconditionally. However, when these family members are toxic, it is necessary to withdraw them from your life. Even if a person is family, you cannot put their needs over yours. There are people who find joy in cutting other people down or creating conflicts. You may have family members who are committed to finding an issue with you. You do not have to keep these people in your life just because you are related.
Many people may disagree, but there is no reason to keep someone in your life that does nothing but bring you pain just because you are family. If they choose to continue to have unsupportive, unnecessary behavior that is consistently counteractive to your happiness, then it is acceptable to stop contact with them. You don’t have to answer to anyone about who you allow to be a part of your life. I want to make sure that is clear before moving forward with the other lessons I have learned and want to share with you.
Be sure of your decision.
Having said that it is sometimes necessary to remove toxic family members, you should be sure of your decision before taking any action. Don’t stop talking to your sister because you had a disagreement and she refuses to apologize. At times, it is best to accept your differences and move forward. You do not want to remove a family member whom you ultimately love unless it is the absolute only solution. Try to work out your issues first if possible.
Removing a family member may mean there is a divide between other family members that you may have otherwise had no issue with. If you stop contact with someone, then you may stop being invited to family events. Often the toxic people are seen as the victim when you stop allowing them in your life. This is why you have to be sure that removing them will be worth it. It is advisable to talk to your mutual family members to explain why you need to remove the person from your life. Unless you are choosing to remove yourself from an entire family.
Create as little distance as you have to.
It is often difficult to determine how exactly to go about removing someone toxic from your life. Do you need to move across the country? The best way to withdraw a toxic family member is to create as little distance as you can and still have the effect you want. What I mean by this is that, if you can simply stop taking calls and spending time individually with the person while still attending family events at the same time, then do that! If you just need a safe distance from the toxic person without never seeing them again, you should go that route. Trying to find a middle ground that doesn’t pull you away from your entire family will create the least extra stress and drama.
If you have family that understands and agrees with why you need to stop being involved with the toxic person, it makes it easier to cut out the problem person only. At times, a complete break will be what it takes. But do not go to that extreme without considering all the alternate options. Assuming you do love the family member, you also have to think about trying to cause them the least hurt as well. Getting space while still being cordial is often the more desirable choice when possible.
You have to live with the outcome.
When you cut a person out of your life, or an entire family, there will be consequences to that action. It is inevitable. While you will feel the positive effects of being free from the toxicity, you will also face the negative repercussions. You will have experiences you will wish you could share with the other person. You will hear of things happening in their life that you will wish you could be there for them. Stopping contact will not stop you from caring.
You have to be able to face these feelings and accept your decision. From time to time, you will wonder if you are making a mistake. It is important to remember why the person was so toxic to you. Recalling all the times your life was negatively impacted will help you to be more confident in your decision. Just remember that toxic people always have a way to make you feel guilty for choosing yourself over them. Don’t let that cause you to allow the person back in if you know in your heart that you shouldn’t.
It’s okay to give another chance.
If however you decide maybe you did react too harshly, you can always choose to give the toxic family member another chance to prove they do want what is best for you. If this person has consciously been making changes to their behavior, then they may deserve your forgiveness. Be aware that it is not healthy to go back and forth in your relationship. It is not advisable to continue to give chance after chance after chance. But if you know the person has been truly working on themselves then you may be willing to see what that means for moving forward in your relationship.
When a person sees their faults and chooses to try to correct them, that’s a big step. If you are willing to take the risk, there is no reason to not give them the opportunity to prove themselves. It would be wise to be cautious though. Let them baby step back into your life. Forgiveness does not make you blind to the past and previous consequences.
Removing a toxic family member is one of the hardest decisions you may have to make. Don’t take the decision lightly. Keep the lessons I have learned and shared with you in mind. If you have had to remove someone from your life, please share what lessons you have learned.