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No one’s family is perfect, in fact many families have skeletons in their closets and many families are somewhat dysfunctional. For anyone who knows they have a highly dysfunctional family the best thing to do first is realize that you are living in a or close to a dysfunctional situation and know there are steps and tips you can follow to help make it better.

Don’t get involved in the dysfunction or try your hardest to distance yourself from participating in dysfunctional behaviors and situations. Do not deny that your family is dysfunctional, it is better to accept it and admit there is a problem in your family. Denial is one of the traits of a dysfunctional family. Here are some tips on how to deal with a dysfunctional family:

  • Change yourself: Change yourself for the better. Look at your flaws or faults within yourself. Ask yourself what you can improve upon within yourself. What characteristics do you want to get rid of that having a dysfunctional family instilled in you? What characteristics do you not want to rub off on you? Work towards getting rid of any bad behaviors, emotions or tendencies that you think you might have. Work on making yourself who you want to be. Know that you can be whatever you choose to be, you don’t have to be like your family just because you are part of that family, you can be different. You can break the chain of dysfunction and live a less dysfunctional life if you choose to. It is your choice and yours alone.
  • Accept that you cannot change others and do not try to change others: As hard as it is to realize and as badly as you want to you cannot change others, no matter how hard you try or what you do. Every person in a dysfunctional family wishes they could change the people in their family, but the sad truth of the matter is that you can only change you, you cannot change others, including your family members. They must want to change before they will truly change for good. Do not lie to yourself and falsely believe you can change them. If you do try to change them you’ll soon realize that it may last for a day or a month but they will eventually go back to their old ways until they are ready to take the step themselves and change themselves for once and all.
  • Set boundaries:  Set clear and specific boundaries with dysfunctional family members. Let them know what is acceptable and what is not. Let them know what you expect of them and that you will not tolerate them crossing your boundaries and if they do cross your boundaries there will be consequences.
  • Learn to say no: If there is a demanding dysfunctional family member or one who continually asks too much of you, just say no. Learn to say no, you cannot take care of everyone’s needs all the time. Don’t take responsibility for something that they should be responsible for. Let them know that you can and will say no if they cross your boundaries or ask you to do something that you cannot do.
  • Take care of yourself: Always remember to take care of yourself first. Don’t deprive yourself and be good to yourself. Learn to love yourself. Don’t let anyone belittle you or talk down to you. Know that you are worth something and that you are cared about even if you feel like family may not care for you, there’s someone out there that does care for you. Don’t let others get you down, try to stay positive and upbeat. Treat yourself to something special every once in a while to help lift your spirits and remind yourself you are worthy of love.
  • Distance yourself: Many people distance themselves from dysfunctional family members. This could be because of bad memories and experiences, not being able to forgive or forget or if the dysfunctional family members refuse to change and carry on in dysfunctional ways. Distancing yourself doesn’t mean your problems are solved though, you will still have those memories and experiences and you will still have emotional or real scars from your past that you must face and deal with. However, sometimes distancing yourself physically and emotionally from the dysfunctional family member(s) is a good option and step to take. If a dysfunctional family member refuses to admit their problems or refuses to change all you can do is try to cope with them with the above tips given and/or distance yourself from their destructive and toxic personalities and lifestyle.
  • The here and now: If the dysfunctional family member’s continue to find a path into your mind and begin to affect your immediate family always know that what you have now is yours. Not theirs and that your close family is not part of the problem.  Live in the now and accept that you cannot change them for they apparently are not seeing what they are doing or have done. Move one and live in the here and now and be happy for each new moment you have with the parts of your life that are no dysfunctional.
  • Never Give Up: Never give up on yourself. It’s important to realize and know that you are a person who is worthy of love and worthy of being alive. What others do is of no consequence.
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