My extended family has always been pretty toxic, and there have been times over the years when they’ve completely cut me off.
I’ve learned that whilst we can’t choose our family, we can choose to walk away from them!
But I understand if you want to try and make things work – some relationships run deep and you don’t want to let them go. If this is the case, read on for what to do when your family turns against you…
1) Find out what the root cause of the issue is
First things first:
What is their issue? Why have they turned against you?
Before you can even think about reconciling with your family, you need to understand what has turned them against you in the first place.
I know this must be an emotional time for you, it’s never easy to deal with difficult family members, but you must put your emotions to one side for now.
All you need to do is sit down, reflect, and gather the facts of the situation. Then you can move on to the next point…
2) Try to be the bigger person and communicate with your family
Once you’ve understood why your family has turned against you (whether it’s because you’ve done something wrong, or they’re just petty and toxic) you need to have an honest conversation with them.
This won’t be easy.
But here’s the thing…
If you really want to get clarity on the situation, you need to speak to them about what’s going on. This is for your own benefit – you need to have both sides of the story before you can know how to move forward.
If you can:
- Arrange to see your family members face to face (preferably together, but if you feel like you may be ganged up on, then do it individually).
- Find a safe space to do so (i.e, at home rather than somewhere out in public).
- Go in with “I” statements instead of “you” statements (this will reduce the chance of your family getting defensive. Here’s an example: “I feel hurt when XXX happens” rather than “You always hurt me by doing XXX”).
- Listen to their side of the story but also make sure to get your points across in a calm and controlled way.
- Write down your thoughts beforehand so you don’t forget anything important in the heat of the conversation.
- Focus on the solutions more than the problems (this will give you a good indication as to who in your family also wants to resolve things and who wants to continue the fight).
For more tips on how to communicate effectively with your family, check out this guide. I’ve used it in the past and it’s helped me recognize where I was going wrong when trying to get through to certain family members.
3) Don’t accept disrespect
When your family turns against you, you need to be strong.
When I was younger, I would do anything to get in my family’s good books again, but as I got older, I realized I was allowing them to walk all over me.
Their behavior didn’t improve and I was left feeling disrespected and hurt. This is where you’re going to need boundaries…read on to find out more about how they can help put you back in control of the situation…
4) Set strong boundaries
So what do boundaries look like?
It can be as simple as saying:
“I’m not able to talk on the phone right now, I’ll call you back when I’m free.”
“I don’t appreciate being spoken to that way. When you’ve calmed down we can restart this conversation, but until then, I won’t be engaging with you any further.”
The truth is, YOU need to dictate the terms and conditions of how you’re treated. It doesn’t matter if it’s your mother, grandfather, or even one of your children.
Without strong boundaries, your family will think they’ve got a free pass to treat you however they like, and over time, this will wear you down!
Look after your emotional and mental well-being by sticking firmly to your boundaries, and trust me, those worth bothering with will respect them.
And the ones who don’t? Well, you’ll know pretty soon who’s not worth trying to reconcile with!
To learn more about setting boundaries with family, this guide will help you out.
5) Break the cycle of toxicity (be the change you want to see!)
If your family is toxic and that’s why they’ve turned against you, be the change you want to see!
Reflect, seek therapy, read up on personal development, and be better. Rise above their level and break the cycle of toxicity.
I’m currently on that journey and it hasn’t been easy.
But there’s a masterclass that has given me so much perspective on letting go of my family’s toxic habits and how to create a life based on my own terms.
It’s called “Out of the Box” and it’s quite confronting. It’s not a walk in the park, so be sure you’re ready for change before checking it out.
Here’s the link – you’ll be forced to face some pretty deep stuff, but trust me, it’ll be so worth it in the end.
6) Get clear on how you’re feeling
I get it, you’re probably consumed with thoughts of your family and how they’ve ganged up on you. It’s overshadowing your everyday life, and understandably so.
Family, after all, is our foundation and base for life.
But don’t confuse genuine love with an obligation. Just because someone is family, it doesn’t mean you’re obliged to put up with their crap.
Ask yourself, does your family:
- Genuinely care and love you?
- Make your life better?
- Support you and encourage you?
- Have your best interests at heart?
If you answered NO to the above, then why are you wasting your time trying to fix the relationship with them?
Would you do the same with a toxic friend? Or a toxic partner? Hopefully not. So the same goes for family.
That’s why you need to get clear and work out who is genuinely worth trying to keep a relationship with and who isn’t. Don’t let the notion that because they’re “family” you need to keep trying.
On the other hand, make the distinction between a temporary rough patch and repeated bad behavior. If it’s just a typical family fallout, it will usually blow over with time, and cutting people out of your life might do more harm than good.
7) Don’t make the situation worse
This should go without saying, but I know how easy it is to get caught up with everything that’s going on – don’t add fuel to the fire!
Don’t badmouth your family.
Don’t take to social media about your family issues.
Don’t threaten or blackmail your family.
And last but not least, don’t engage in gossip or hearsay. More often than not, this is what leads to family issues in the first place!
8) Make sure you’re being supported
If your family still wants nothing to do with you after you’ve tried to extend an olive branch, you must surround yourself with the love and support of good friends.
The truth is, losing your family or even going through a period of tension can be incredibly draining.
A friend of mine recently came to visit – her grandma passed away last month and her uncles have been on a rampage, arguing with family and trying to take precious possessions my friend was gifted by her grandma.
She’s had a tough time, so naturally, I let her get it all off her chest. We hugged, cried, laughed, and then cried all over again.
She left feeling like a big weight was lifted. She can’t change her family, but she knows she has friends who love and care for her, and sometimes that’s enough.
So, reach out to your loved ones. Rely on them. You don’t need to suffer this alone!
9) Don’t be bullied or guilt-tripped into maintaining a relationship with your family
When I decided to cut off certain family members, I remember being told:
“But they’re family, you’ll want them around one day!” or “If you stop contact, you’ll break up the whole family.”
And for a while, I allowed myself to be guilted back into toxic relationships. Don’t make the same mistakes I did!
No matter what anyone else says or thinks, YOU have to make the right decisions for your life.
Don’t feel like the unity of the family rests on your shoulders. If anything, the individuals that turned against you have more responsibility over breaking up the family than you do!
10) Create your own family
This is probably the most important point and I can’t stress it enough:
Find your people. Create your own family, and be damn selective about who you let in!
Family doesn’t have to be blood; family is whoever unconditionally loves you, cares for you, and has your best interests at heart.
I’ve left behind a lot of family members and don’t get me wrong, it’s been painful. Even now, I consider reaching out and trying once again.
But I know that whilst they remain toxic and negative, I will never get the relationship I crave.
So, instead, I turned my focus onto my friends and the remaining family members who are worth keeping around. Over time, I’ve created a small, happy family that thrives off love and rejects drama.
And you absolutely can do the same!
So to sum up:
- Understand where things went wrong in the first place with your family and why they turned against you
- Try to rectify the situation if you can through constructive conversation
- If reconciliation isn’t an option – it’s time to move on!
- Don’t accept abuse or disrespect, stick firm to your boundaries
- Create your own family and let go of those who don’t bring you joy or love!