5 Ways to Cope With Toxic Family Members

This is how to survive the holidays

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The holiday season isn’t joyful for everyone. The mere idea of feeling forced to spend so much time with family can seem stressful and crushing.

For many of us with Arab parents, family loyalty and integrity is of the utmost importance. We tend to grow up close to our families and grow to fear disappointment or familial betrayal.

Whether it’s because we have controlling, overpowering or unsupportive families, there are countless reasons why one can feel out of place at home, a space that’s supposedly meant for care and healing.

And when your family doesn’t accept you for who you are or condemns your identity, it can mean having to keep up appearances and hide pain (which can turn in to a form of toxic self-harm in itself).

Dreading spending time with your toxins family? Don’t worry; we’re here to help. This is an easy guide to surviving.

Stay calm and point your family towards information
There’s no need to retaliate, be confrontational or make yourself more angry. Instead, encourage your family to check out podcasts, articles, videos or films you’ve been watching that explore the issues you have been going through.

Invite someone you trust over
If you’re afraid of feeling too isolated, invite a friend over (who might know your parents well enough) and talk to him or her about how you feel. A good listener is essential but that doesn’t mean reliving your problems.

Take the time to do the things you love
Whether it’s a long bubble bath, a yoga class, dancing in your bedroom or getting your nails done, go do it. It’s important to empty out your brain and look after yourself.

Be kind to yourself
Don’t let yourself believe you are the bad, failing person some might think you are. Don’t be self-critical and too hard on yourself. Write a list of all the things you’re good at and have accomplished so far. And continue to believe in yourself.

Have a conversation about the boundaries you want to set
We’re all scared of setting clear boundaries with our families without seeming selfish. But if you want to (finally) have adult, healthy relationships with your family, you need to implement them. Make sure you really know why you’re doing it, so you can explain to your family why it’s important to you. Be strict, clear and stick to your plan.

Illustration by Roshbena

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