The dynamics in our family of origin leave an imprint on us--for better or for worse. If there is perpetual toxicity in your family of origin, the imprint left can feel devastating. It is also common for family members to sometimes not recognize the toxicity and its impact. Knowing the signs and impact can help you understand why you might feel the way you feel and why you have some of the struggles you have. Thankfully, you do not have to stay tethered to, or wounded by, these toxic patterns. Healing, freedom, and positive growth can be yours.
Below is a brief synopsis of some common signs of toxicity in families, the impact that toxicity has, and what to do about it.
Signs of Toxicity
1. Concern, care, and compassion are not shown for your feelings, needs, or rights.
2. Factions are created in the family.
3. Overt and covert emotional abuse are practiced.
4. Bullying and other forms of domineering behavior are means of control.
5. Playing the victim is routine.
6. Volatility is practiced and normalized.
7. Manipulation is a common tactic.
Unresolved emotional wounds and/or untreated mental health issues in parents and care-givers (and in children) can cause tremendous damage to family members, leading to problematic thought patterns and counterproductive–even destructive–habits of behavior in individuals within the family. People who grew up with toxicity in their families may have found themselves in the role of caregiver or rescuer. They may have found themselves tiptoeing through the family and/or trying to escape, whether physically or emotionally. They may carry a great deal of guilt and shame. These individuals might experience much of the following:
What Can You Do?
If you recognize your experiences, thoughts, and behaviors in the above descriptions, take heart that healing from the effects of a toxic family is possible. You do not need to perpetuate your past or live ensnared by its effects. Learning how to take good care of yourself and doing the work of healing can pay tremendous dividends toward living a life that is wonderfully fulfilling. Here are some helpful steps:
For help navigating and living free of the impact of a toxic family, feel free to reach out to Dr. Dawn-Marie for transformational coaching.
Dr. Dawn-Marie shares a refreshing blend of professional insights and personal stories in this encouraging blog.