15 Habits Of People Who Overcame Toxic Family Dynamics

15 Habits Of People Who Overcame Toxic Family Dynamics

All families go through their own set of challenges. For some, it’s lost jobs, the death of a loved one, and moving states. For others, it’s neglect, abuse, addiction, fear, perfectionism, or intimacy and boundary issues. Whatever the challenge, growing up in a toxic family can have a profound impact on one’s life. Some manage to claw their way out and thrive, while others are consumed by their family’s dysfunction. For those who overcame their unhealthy family dynamics despite the odds, here are some habits that helped in their journey.

1. They define and enforce boundaries firmly.

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They realize that if they want things to change, they need to take action and set hard boundaries on the way they interact with toxic family members and behaviors they won’t tolerate going forward. They make these boundaries known to the concerned parties and stand their ground when people attempt to cross the lines or guilt them into changing their minds.

2. They emotionally disengage from certain situations or people.

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They stop treating their family’s problems or each individual’s shortcomings as their own. They accept that it’s not their problem to fix, it’s up to the other person to decide to change and make decisions that are best for them. All they can do is love them and offer support where necessary without getting caught up in their drama or letting it color their life.

3. They avoid fanning the embers of conflict.

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People who overcame their toxic family dynamics are masters of defusing high-pressure situations. They cultivate a habit of walking away or holding back rather than giving the toxic relative the response they seek. They avoid discussing heated topics that are likely to trigger drama around family. They steer clear of activities or events that usually serve as a prelude or pretext for fights and jabs.

4. They practice self-care and compassion.

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People who’ve prevailed over their toxic family issues understand the importance of taking care of their physical and mental well-being. They forgive themselves for getting it wrong sometimes or going slower than they’d like. They cut off connections when they need to. They take a day to themselves to recharge. They strive to do things for themselves and process their feelings without self-judgment.

5. They rely on support systems.

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Despite how challenging it may be to confide and trust in others, they make a habit of building a quality circle of friends and nurturing those relationships. If they don’t think they have the strength to navigate family gatherings or turn down requests alone, they bring a friend along to help. They let their chosen family fill the emotional gaps left behind by their biological family.

6. They work on building their emotional intelligence.

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The secret to getting over your dysfunctional family dynamic is learning how to regulate your emotions and improving the way you recognize, interpret, and express what you or others may be feeling. People who have been successful in reclaiming their lives despite their toxic background put in the work to develop their emotional skills, so they can better control negative situations rather than being controlled by them.

7. They don’t let fear of the unknown control their decisions.

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It’s normal to worry that asserting boundaries or putting yourself first will cause other members of the dysfunctional family to respond negatively. However, this anxiety can keep you stuck in that dynamic forever. The people who manage to rise above their complicated family situation put their concerns aside and accept that they can’t control people’s reactions. They do what they think is best and deal with whatever follows.

8. They set realistic expectations.

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To overcome their family troubles, they had to learn to let go of hoping and waiting for family members to change. They stopped expecting the mother who always criticized them to learn to offer praise instead or the father who’s always been an alcoholic to give up drinking and end a night sober for once. They accept that some things may never change and figure out a way to have a relationship with the family they have, not the one they wish they had.

9. They prioritize their emotional needs.

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They decide that someone giving life to them or being related to them, doesn’t give the person a right to disrespect or terrorize them emotionally. If their bully of a brother won’t stop picking on them at family dinners, they choose to stop attending or only visit when he’s not around. They don’t betray their safety or well-being just to make other people comfortable.

10. They know when to hold on or let go.

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People who overcome toxic family dynamics learn to pay attention to their relationships and identify the ones that aren’t worth saving or harmful and destructive to keep around. They know when it’s time to accept that things will never change, that they’ve had enough and it’s time to walk away, or they need to modify how they engage.

11. They educate themselves.

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Information is power. Investing time and effort to learn and understand more about toxic family dynamics and the issues that may be contributing to them can play a huge role in enabling you to overcome them. Even though it may not excuse their behavior, you could gain insights into why certain family members behave the way they do. These insights can help you process past experiences and manage your relationships with them.

12. They strive towards independence.

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It’s much harder to resist your worst impulses or heal from the experience of growing up in a dysfunctional family when you’re still in the pits with them. They know this, so rather than waiting around for things to change, they set out on their own. They find a job and work to carve a safe space and put some distance between themselves and their toxic parents, siblings, or other relatives.

13. They keep interactions with toxic family members to a minimum.

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They know that having a close relationship with family members is not as important as protecting their sanity. They’ll try to minimize how they engage with people that cause friction. They may decide to always answer calls from family members if they reach out, but not to initiate contact with them. They may block family members on social media, reject invitations to certain gatherings, or only put in an appearance rather than stay the whole day.

14. They seek professional help.

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Another habit of people who overcame their dysfunctional family dynamic that you can implement is seeing a therapist. Some wounds can’t be untangled by yourself or with the help of friends. Sometimes, you need a licensed professional who can help sort through the mess in your head and heart, make sense of it, and get you on the road to healing.

15. They focus more on the present than the past.

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As difficult and traumatizing as your family history may be, you don’t have to think about it every day. Those who make it through to the other side try not to dwell on the complications of their family life. Instead, they direct their attention to enjoying and managing the aspects of their lives and outcomes within their control.

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