Dealing with Difficult Family Relationships

Dealing with Difficult Family Relationships

Hello to everyone trying to get through life.

I hope that you are well and taking extra care. Sending all my love and light your way. This week I have my first Guest Author, I hope that you find this information as thought-provoking and useful as I have.

Written by Nirvashini Vaishnavi on Behalf of BodhiMax www.bodhimax.co.za
Hypnotherapist / Life Coaches / Family Constellation Facilitator / Shaman / Self-Empowerment Trainer

Your family is your first introduction to the way this world works.  This introduction can be beautiful, supportive, and loving.  It can also be unkind, uncomfortable, and filled with a lack of love and belonging.  Where ever you may be on the spectrum, relationships are difficult, especially family relationships. 

Each family is a tribe that is made up of its own made up of own culture, language, values, beliefs, religions, rules and traditions.  When we are born into these tribal systems, regardless of whether there is love, kindness, and respect, there is bound to be disagreements, conflicts, and hurts.  It is because we are individual personalities within an already established living and breathing system, and at any time the system can be challenged by internal or external forces. 

Difficulties in Family Relationships


The family structure can be plagued by difficult life situations.  These can include financial downfalls, the loss and abandonment, managing mental and emotional illnesses, addictions, blows of fate like losing a business, traumatic incidents or accidents, being displaced from their country of origin, or even problems related to criminal activities/war/famine, etc.  Depending on the emotional maturity levels of the family unit as a whole, a family can take immense strain, thus leading to difficulties in relating to each other.

Strained family relationships can often be caused by different personalities and characters within the domestic environment.  At BodhiMax, we frequently work with clients who are faced with difficult personalities in their families, we give them a holistic view of both the psychological and spiritual perspective of what is happening.  Many religions or philosophies believe that our soul has chosen its path and story before it arrives into this physical realm.  If this is so, it means we pick who we walk this journey of life with, and that includes our family members.  For better or for worse, they are a part of our evolution and growth as human and spiritual beings.  Regardless of your beliefs, it is quite clear that our families are a part of our emotional, mental, soul and spiritual growth.  We guide our clients into understanding their growth lessons, in order to stand more within their powerful, thriving selves, creating the lives that their hearts desire.

Sometimes you may feel like you are a part of a really toxic family and you are at your wits end on how to feel, or what to do.  If you are a minor, it is difficult to either speak up, move away or even try to create change.  If you are a teenager it can be tough to deal with parenting, control and freedom to discover and explore who you are.  Being an adult can come with many family obligations where there are challenges to free yourself from burdens that are not yours to carry, or even change them to create win-win situations.  There are so many complex family dynamics out there, it can become hard to navigate this system called Family. 

How do you know that you have unhealthy family dynamics?

As therapists that help clients with family and couples counselling, we have heard many complain about their daily lives being filled with the following situations.  We then assist the client through ways to manage or healthily release themselves from this emotionally, mentally, and physically difficult situation.

  • Stonewalling or ignoring and emotional isolation
  • Belittling your character and your accomplishments
  • Gaslighting is a form psychological abuse family member/s make you question your sanity, perception of reality, or memories. People experiencing gaslighting often feel confused, anxious, and unable to trust themselves.
  • Invalidating or not acknowledging your experiences and feelings
  • Angry outbursts, or anger management issues
  • Violence or Destruction of household or personal items
  • Blackmailing, obsessive or controlling behavior
  • Crossing personal boundaries
  • Condemnation, Name-calling, insulting and bullying behaviours from family members

Some Ways to manage difficult family relationships

I think it is safe to say that every family has its own set of problems and challenges.  The severity of the problems will differ, however what is true for all of us, is that we are all required to build an emotional maturity by gaining understanding, knowing how to conflict in a healthy manner, building resilience in tough times, and knowing how to love, accept and communicate at the best and worst of times.

There is no right answer when it comes to this aspect of our lives.  We can only do our best and hope for the highest outcome for all our loved ones.  To help you navigate this complex relationship map, we have, provided some guidance on the roads of healing that you can travel.

Counselling,0020Coaching & Group Therapy
When the relationships are extremely complicated or toxic, it’s generally due to past traumas, pain, shame, anger, sadness, and conflicts.  If this is your situation, and you feel stuck, seek counselling or life coaching.  Talking to a professional therapist helps you to understand and work through your emotional pain and mental confusion.  It is important for you to build yourself up, understand who you are and the dynamics in your family.  It is equally important to find practices, tools and techniques to handle various family situations.

Healing childhood traumas and past hurts
Children can experience traumas such as abandonment, adoption, abuse, peer pressure, domestic violence, etc.  These situations can cause the emotions of anger, shame, grief, devastation, loss, feeling unloved, feeling not good enough or lonely.  Your self-esteem, self-worth and value in this world can take a knock.  Here again, seek out counselling, self-help programmes focused on self-empowerment, hypnotherapy is an excellent modality to work on releasing and healing childhood traumas and past hurts, psychotherapy is good for talking through the emotions and coming to self-realisations.

Reduce the need to blame and judgement of each other
During conflicts and deep hurt and pain, it is easy to blame your parents or siblings for how you feel or your life situations.  Remember, people only do what they know.  For example, if all they know is anger and abuse, then that is how they will act and impact others.  Find the compassion that they do not know any better.  Realise that you only have control over your emotions, actions and words, so focus bringing that through in the best possible way.

Set personal boundaries
After talking about the issues and concerns you are experiencing, it’s time to set healthy boundaries for what behavior is acceptable within the family and what is not. For example, if one spouse is always criticizing the way the other one performs a task, he/she should be given the option to task himself or accept the fact that it is being done by someone else and show appreciation. All family members should have clear instructions about what is expected of them and why. The other family members should express gratitude, not criticism of one another. Be assertive when setting and enforcing boundaries.

Have the courage to find your own independence
A very unhealthy dynamic is for the adult child to depend upon their parents and for their parents to enable their child/children in manipulating their space, time, resources, and emotions.  Clear expectations, roles and responsibilities needs to be set between parent and child.  If you are an adult child living at home, get a stable job and learn to support yourself.  If you are a parent enabling this, ask yourself what is making you do this and what is it giving you by enabling the dependency on you.  Be honest with yourself. 

Be Patient and find Silence within
When there are conflicts, there are times when it is wiser to take a step back, breath and be silent.  Ask the person for space to re-centre, process the information you have at hand, and sit with the emotions until you calm down to a level where you can become more level headed.  This means you got into the silence within and provided space for both yourself and the other person/people.

Be Kind and Respectful
No matter how heated things can get, everyone deserves kindness and respect.  Choose to be mature, kind and respectful.  Ask yourself if you would want to be treated with this good way, and if the answer is ‘yes’, then do the same with the people around you.

Learn Communication Skills
Most of the time we are raised with not knowing how to communicate our feelings.  We tend to go into blaming, name-calling, ignoring, evading, or attacking the other person’s character.  There are many communication techniques that help us to communicate our wants and needs in a healthy manner.  Seek out a communication coach to help you with this.  Clear communication can reduce conflict by 50%.  We have found that 3 sessions of teaching couples on how to communicate effectively, has reduced a significant amount of fighting, anger, and mis-interpretation of the other person’s intentions.

Know when to move away and release yourself from toxic situations
Family is very important for most of us, and it becomes tough to think about cutting communication or interaction with loved ones.  However, if you are at risk, physically, emotionally and mentally, then this may be a vital step in your journey.  Try to find resolutions or ways to fix the situation through family therapy or mediation.  If these attempts are not working then space and time away may clear your mind, help to heal and to find better choices of being for you and your family.

Embrace Forgiveness
Lastly, forgiveness is about being compassionate to both yourself and the person that you felt hurt by.  It is also about freeing yourself and them from deep emotional despair.  When dealing with difficult family, the most soulful, conscious, powerful and liberating thing you can do on your life journey, is to forgive.  People can have a warped idea of what forgiveness is, so it’s important to learn what perspective it will give you and how much lighter in can make you feel. There are many forgiveness exercises that you can do, however doing this with a therapist, counsellor or coach is key as they can be the objective voice steering you away from getting lost in the drama and emotions of the situation.

We hope you have found this practical guide helpful in dealing with difficult family members and situations.  We send you love, kindness and compassion in your journey. 

Should you need assistance in dealing with difficult family relationships, healing the inner child, releasing traumas, moving into forgiveness, learning communication, conflict management and anger management, and journeying into building your own self-worth and value in this world, BodhiMax specializes in therapeutic techniques that are aimed at your own Self-Empowerment and Inner Growth, in order to create a life and relationships that your heart desires.

Image:  ClipartKey

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