Having difficult family members in your life can be a challenge for anyone but it can be even more difficult when you’re struggling to manage mental health.
I’ve had to navigate my way through lots of difficult relationships while struggling with depression and anxiety.
I know it can be difficult but I challenge you to find the good in the situation and see how it is benefiting you.
If you’re just thinking “I hate my family” over and over again in your head you’re going to really keep yourself stuck in unhappiness.
Empower yourself to take control of your thoughts, beliefs and feelings.
This can be a difficult practice if you’ve never tried it before but shifting your beliefs around your relationship with your family can radically change the way you feel about them.
Take Responsibility For Yourself
The chances of your family members actually changing their behavior is probably pretty slim.
I used to make my feelings conditional on how my family members behaved at events.
If they brought up certain topics or acted a certain way I would get upset.
I was putting all of the responsibility on how I felt onto my family members.
Once I started taking ownership over my own feelings and emotions it became much easier to deal with family members or any difficult people.
I decided that I was 100% responsible for ALL of my feelings and stopped blaming others for how I felt.
This was really empowering because I didn’t have to rely on other people acting a certain way to feel good.
I was in charge of how I felt and I could decide to feel good regardless of what other people are doing or saying.
I discuss how I do this in my podcast episode about dealing with difficult family members during the holidays.
The same ideas from this podcast can be applied to any family gathering and it’s really about not making your emotions conditional based on other peoples behaviors and actions.
Change Your Focus
If you focus on everything you hate about your family it’s going to be really difficult to be around them.
Challenge yourself to find things that you like about your family or are thankful for.
If you really don’t like anything about them directly you can be thankful that they are giving you the opportunity to get better at staying positive in difficult situations.
If you’re really struggling to change your perspective on the situation I like to journal or pray on the question “how can I see this situation differently?”.
This question helps me shift my perspective even when it’s really tough to see the good in the situation.
Recently, I got dumped and had to challenge myself to see the good in the situation.
Truth be told, all I really felt like doing was throwing a big pity party for myself. While the situation was painful I was able to shift my beliefs and perspective around the situation to believe that it happened for my highest good.
Here are some of my favorite journal questions to use when I need to change my focus or perspective of a situation.
- How can I see this differently?
- What would the best version of myself believe about this situation?
- How is this situation serving me and happening for my good?
- What would I tell my best friend about this situation?
- If I were a naturally positive and optimistic person what would I believe about this situation?
- If I were able to completely let go of all the pain from past situations how would I feel?
- What is something positive about this situation that I can choose to focus on?
Learn The Lessons
I believe that tough situations come into our lives to teach us lessons.
You could avoid your family or cut them out but ultimately you will be missing out on personal growth and a chance to improve your life.
I am not in any way advocating that you tolerate abuse or unhealthy relationships.
However, if it’s just a matter of you not liking how your family acts there might be some valuable lessons you could learn from being in an uncomfortable or difficult situation.
Maybe you need to learn how to communicate more clearly, not lose your temper or forgive people who have hurt you.
These are all really difficult skills to learn and can take years of practice but if you can master them they can deeply enrich your life.
Spend some time asking yourself what lessons you need to learn and skills you need to develop to improve your relationship with your family.
Remember you can’t control other people you can only change the way you act and feel.
I know that lots of people have toxic or unhealthy relationships with their family members.
Remember, if you’re not a child anymore you can decide what is appropriate and what kind of behavior you will tolerate.
You might need to have a discussion with your family about what is acceptable and what will happen if they act inappropriately around you.
This conversation must be had in a caring way and not in a defensive way.
For example, you might need to let them know that you want to come to family events but if there is yelling you will need to leave.
It’s important that you feel empowered enough to set boundaries and not tolerate toxic behavior around you.
If you’re not sure how to have this conversation I suggest talking to a therapist so they can help you plan out what to say in the conversation and what boundaries to set.
It’s important once you set up those boundaries that you stick to them.
Lots of people have toxic family members that they have to enforce boundaries with.
You don’t have to allow people to act in a harmful way just because they are your family member.
Be The Bigger Person
Sometimes just deciding to be the bigger person can be helpful.
Decide that you are going to set the example of how a mature and forgiving person acts.
Challenge yourself to be the bigger person and act with dignity in grace no matter how your family is behaving.
This can be easier said than done but it is a great skill to master.
Refuse to stoop to your families level and when everyone else is emotional or fighting choose to be the most mature adult in the room regardless of what everyone else is doing.
Pick a role model or someone you admire and commit to acting in a way that is congruent with that persons values.
Channel their strength and energy to help you stay focused on your own behavior and actions when your family is pushing your buttons.
By being the bigger person you can set the example for how you want people to act around you.
Challenge yourself to model the behavior you want your family members to display in the future.
Holding onto past experiences with family members can make interactions in the present day difficult.
If you’re holding onto pain that has already been caused or haven’t forgiven someone for something that happened before you are much more likely to be bothered by the way that person acts.
I like to think of forgiveness as a completely internal process. I don’t need to talk to someone or have them apologize to me to forgive them.
I know that holding onto hurt or anger is going to ultimately hurt me and cause me to struggle.
By working through my own process to forgive the other person I am able to prevent the situation from hurting me anymore in the future.
If you hold onto anger or resentment you’re only making things more difficult for yourself.
Your own process for forgiving someone is probably very different from mine and can even differ greatly depending on the specific situations.
Sometimes I just need to write the person a letter that I don’t send and other times I might need to really sort things out with my therapist.
The important thing is that you make a commitment that you will find a way to forgive the other person and the situation so you can move forward with your life.
Cut Them Out
If you really hate your family members and the situation is very toxic and unhealthy you might need to take a break or cut out your family.
You can limit time and interactions with them without completely eliminating them.
Brainstorm what a healthy relationship with your family would actually look like.
What would you need to do to be able to enjoy interactions with your family?
Maybe you need to plan to only visit for an hour and then leave or maybe you need to only visit with them in public places like a restaurant so they can’t fight or disagree.
If you’ve tried all these options and you are still unable to interact with them in a healthy way you might need to remove them from your life.
There have been lots of people that have had to limit or eliminate interactions with their birth family.
The important thing is to do what is best for you in the long run.
If working things out is difficult in the short term but you think it will ultimately serve you, in the long run, you should commit to doing that.
Eliminating people from your life should be a last resort.
I believe that difficult situations ultimately serve us and teach us so much.
If you cut your family members out and decide to eliminate them from your life you might end up missing out on some important personal growth opportunities.
Living through tough and uncomfortable situations has helped me learn how to cope and stay positive even when everything sucks.
Really spend some time evaluating the situation and figure out what will actually be best for you.
In general, it’s a lot easier to get along with people when you’re really happy with yourself and your own life.
A lot of times when we’re unhappy with something in our own life we will project those feelings onto someone else.
It’s a lot easier to try and blame someone else for making you unhappy then admitting you need to make some changes to your life.
Spend some time doing self-reflection and evaluate different areas of your life and make a plan to improve them.
It is difficult to have a healthy relationship with anyone when you’re unhappy.
How can you bring more joy to your life?
Do you like your job?
Are you excited and fulfilled with the ways you are spending your time?
What changes could you make right now that would make you feel better overall?
Focus on improving your own life so you will be in a better emotional space to deal with your family.
If you’re thinking “I hate my family” I hope this article gives you some ideas for how to handle the situation and see it differently.
Ultimately, it’s a lot easier to change yourself and how you feel about a situation then to modify someone else’s behavior.
You don’t want to make your own happiness reliant on someone else acting a specific way.
I know this is a difficult process and I think you should give yourself a lot of grace and kindness while dealing with difficult family members.
Keep doing your best and when you lose your temper or mess up commit to trying again and handling it a little bit better in the future.
Our families ultimately are really complex systems and I suggest talking to a therapist about your specific situation if you find that you really hate your family and it’s making you unhappy.
If you’re looking for more resources for dealing with mental health be sure to check out my other posts here.
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