In a perfect world everyone would have healthy, happy family relationships…
Family gatherings would be blissful, stress-free events. Sadly, the world is far from a perfect place, and many family relationships are strained and difficult. Some are just plain dysfunctional.
Given how much is known today about the link between emotional and physical health, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to learn that toxic family relationships can lead to illness. Simmering tensions and fighting within a family will eventually take their toll on everyone involved.
If you’re concerned that your family relationships are negatively affecting your health, consider these questions:
· Do you find yourself becoming tense when you see certain family members?
· Is the mere thought of some relatives enough to set your nerves on edge?
· Do you feel drained and depleted after spending time with family?
· Do you have recurring health problems that seem to flare up when you’re stressed?
· Do you suffer from depression and/or low self-esteem?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then your family could be making you sick.
The best way to ensure that toxic family relationships are not affecting your health is to get to the heart of the issues that are causing stress. As most people already know, this is easier said than done.
Families have complicated histories and problems can be deep seated, stretching back many years. Even if you’re willing to make the effort to try to resolve problems, your relatives might not be so eager to embrace honesty and openness.
Don’t despair. Even if your family members don’t want to deal with the issues, there are things you can do to minimize the impact they have on your well-being.
Find out what’s really upsetting you. The only way to do this is to acknowledge that beneath your anger and resentment lies pain. Think about what your family members might have done to make you feel hurt and let down, then own this pain instead of masking it with anger.
Only after you’ve acknowledged the source of your pain can you follow the advice from Frozen and “let it go.” This might not always be possible, but if you make the effort to dig deeper, you’ll be in a position to start processing your pain in order to move forward.
Nothing to See Here
Once you’ve acknowledged why you feel hurt, you can begin to step away from the drama. Instead of being drawn into old patterns, you will be able to view things in a more detached way by realizing that the only person you have any control over is yourself.
This will help you understand more clearly that your relatives are caught up with their own problems that often have nothing to do with you. Seeing others, especially those who have hurt you, with compassion is the most soothing balm for old wounds.
Unfortunately, there are some hurts that are too deep and traumatic for this to happen. The best course of action in these circumstances is to minimize contact and focus energy on the positive relationships in your life, at least until you are ready to deal with this person and the issues they bring up.
Start with the Person in the Mirror
In cases of physical, sexual, and emotional abuse within a family, it’s clear who is at fault. With most other family conflicts, pinpointing the guilty party isn’t so straightforward. It’s easy to play the blame game, but for real healing to take place, you need to accept responsibility for your role in family dramas.
Everyone behaves badly at times, and everyone can learn from their mistakes. Looking at yourself with clear eyes will help you to understand why you acted as you did, and this is guaranteed to help ease stress. It you want others in your life to be honest and open to change, you have to be willing to take a good look at yourself.
It’s true that family relationships can be messy, painful, heartbreaking, and confusing. However, with the right awareness and attitude, they don’t have to make you sick. -Janice H.