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Last Updated on September 18, 2019

Having an Emotional Breakdown? 15 Ways to Re-Center Yourself

Having an Emotional Breakdown? 15 Ways to Re-Center Yourself

Emotional breakdown can present itself in the form of crises when you have reached peak stress in your life.

Signs of a nervous breakdown can present themselves as anxiety attacks, depression or full-blown panic. These emotional disruptions can take you down the wrong road and have you regretting the consequences after it is too late.

At the very least, they will be some of the most unpleasant moments in your life.

The good thing is, you can avoid running off the cliff, because today you will learn 15 quick fixes that will help you re-center in these moments.

1. Choose Your Own Thoughts

You don’t have to agree to every thought that crosses your mind, especially when you are having an emotional breakdown. Many of these thoughts can be pretty tough to swallow.

Maybe nobody has told you this, but you can actually choose your thoughts.

How?

Start by being mindful of all the ideas you are having. Do not get involved with them, simply observe them.

While you’re at it, learn to distinguish good thoughts from bad ones.

Good thoughts will lead you to something better. Bad thoughts are mostly hurtful or they only lead to other undesirable thoughts or emotions.

When you are facing an emotional breakdown, most of the thoughts that will cross your mind will be hurtful and detrimental. These are the kind of thoughts you want to get rid of.

So, how do you do this?

You refuse to interact with the bad thoughts.

There is not much that can be done once you have “thought a thought”. In the end it’s already there, in your mind. But you can refuse to participate with the consequences of having that thought.

You will notice how these thoughts arrive at your mind. But, after you realize that they have no grip on you, they will simply go away; and. you will quickly regain emotional stability.

2. Get Off the Treadmill

Life is like a treadmill, and sometimes, it goes faster than we can handle.

Emotional breakdown is the indicator that tells you the treadmill is just going too fast. And since we cannot use a dial to lower the speed, you must do the next best thing:

Get off the treadmill.

Whenever you start feeling things are just “too much to handle,” simply interrupt whatever it is you are doing. Take 5 minutes for yourself, and for those 5 minutes, do nothing but be with yourself. Ignore everything around you and focus on you.

Taking a small break from tension has never hurt anyone, and it’s a great way to break the downward spiral.

Don’t get too attached to “getting off the treadmill”, because that would be evasion.

3. Take a Step Back and Breathe

A nervous breakdown is a consequence of being far too immersed in your problems.

We get too attached to our issues and our circumstances; and, that’s understandable, because they do affect us. We end up believing they define us; but, it doesn’t have to be that way.

Everything changes when you practice detachment.

How do you do this? Breathe deeply, mentally take a step back, and refuse to see your problems as something that defines you or as part of yourself.

With a relaxed attitude, take a new look at your problems and you will notice a few things:

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  • Because of the accumulated tension, you are having an unrealistic view of your problems.
  • Such problems are simpler than you thought, and there is an answer to everything that you are feeling.
  • If you don’t yet see the answer don’t get attached to the feeling of despair; instead, refuse to take no for an answer and keep looking.
  • The trick is to take a step out of your emotions, because they will cloud your judgment.

Maybe you haven’t noticed it, but your breathing changes according to your mood. It happens to all of us, and it becomes especially shallow when we are going through an emotional breakdown.

Practicing Pranayama (breathing techniques in Yoga) will have an immediate and positive impact on your mind and your emotions.

Although there are many techniques, you only have to remember a very simple exercise:

  1. To interrupt your thinking pattern, quickly exhale until your lungs are “empty” without feeling any strain.
  2. Take 6 seconds to inhale, making sure you expand your belly to allow your lungs to take in as much air as possible.
  3. Hold your breath for 3 seconds.
  4. Then take 6 seconds to exhale as much as possible without straining yourself.
  5. Repeat from step 2.

It’s that simple.

Exhale, 6 seconds to inhale, hold for 3 seconds, 6 seconds to exhale and then repeat.

Keep doing this for at least 5 minutes, and both your mind and your emotions will be in a completely different state.

You can also check out this video on Pranayama:

Pro tip: Try increasing the length of your inhalations and exhalations. You will easily do 10 in and 10 out, but how about trying 15 or 20? Experiment with this and leave a comment about how you felt!

The beauty of Pranayama is that you don’t have to simply believe it works, because you will immediately feel the results. Try it out now!

4. Write It Out

If you feel the tension accumulating, the thoughts running faster and faster, and a nervous breakdown hovering just around the corner… stop everything you are doing, take out a notebook and write.

But that is just one part of the solution. Now you’ll need to understand what you will write about.

First, write down everything you want about the way you feel. Take it out, everything. Then, write the reason why you are overwhelmed, but not without a proper structure. Write down a list of problems that are currently afflicting you.

By this point, you will be feeling much better, but go the extra mile and to finish the exercise by adding a possible solution to each problem in your list.

Most likely, this will take you around five minutes, and it makes a real difference.

5. Talk it Out

Human beings are like pressure cookers. The more you hold in your tension, the stronger the explosion will be.

Talking to someone will not only provide you a valuable extra point of view, by verbalizing how you feel, you will also be taking pressure off yourself and acquiring a new angle on things.

Moreover, sometimes we only need to say it out loud in order to understand the issue and feel better.

Talk about the things that bother you. Talk about your fears and frustrations. And, most importantly, talk about what you plan to do about it all.

6. Talk To Yourself

Self-talk can really get you over the hump if you know how to do it the right way.

Why do we fall into the downward spiral? We do this because we are conducting an uncontrolled ‘mental dialogue’. This is self-talk, and it can be positive or negative.

Take a moment to analyze what your self-talk is like when you are facing an emotional breakdown.

If it is chaotic, it will continue to be chaotic if you don’t do something about it.

Whenever you are facing a crisis, pay attention to your mental dialogue and put order where there is none.

Instead of allowing your mind to wander into terrible places and destructive “what-if’s”, take control and guide yourself to a better place.

Talk to yourself aloud if you need to. Treat yourself as a friend and study all the possibilities. Talk about the things that bother you, and then, as a friend, propose something that will help you.

For some, this will be unusual, but it’s very common in creative people such as inventors and artists.

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Just remember: you are your own friend; so, give yourself a hand if you need it!

7. Do Now, Feel Tomorrow — Taking It One Step at a Time

Take a deep breath and take your emotions out of the equation. Resolve that tomorrow you will have as much emotion as you want, but today you need only mind and action. This is especially helpful when you are overwhelmed. During this time, you will have many things to do, but you will be also faced with a lot of emotions.

What do you do? Resolve that you don’t need an emotional side for now and approach the nervous breakdown with a logical perspective only.

Carefully take a look at your issues, and tackle them one by one until you are out of the crisis.

It’s not that you are forcing yourself not to feel; instead, you are just assigning a certain time slot to deal with the other side of the coin: your emotions.

It’s all about prioritizing. Thinking this way will trick your mind into a completely productive and effective attitude.

In most cases, the trick will work just as expected and you will feel all the tension afterwards, just diminished by the way you handled things.

8. Get Your Adrenaline Pumping

Want an easy fix? Take a walk.

The most illustrious characters in history have been hit by inspiration when talking a walk. And it’s not only historically proven. A study conducted by the American Psychology Association found out that people got more creative after taking a walk. [1]

Walking and physical activities help break the negative emotional cycle and will reframe your reality.

You don’t even have to go outside if you don’t have the time for it, just walk around in circles indoors and it will have the same effect. Combine this with the proper self-talk and your emotions will settle down.

Engaging in more rigorous exercise takes things to an entirely new level. Aim to exercise regularly so that you can keep yourself centered, as many emotions can be released through exercise. And you don’t really need a gym to work out, you will be fine with doing squats and pushups at home.

The important thing is to allow emotions to flow out along with the exercise. With each movement, breathe in and out mindfully, and allow the exercise to help you release negative emotions.

9. Bring It Back to the Present

A emotional breakdown is often a product of catastrophic thinking. It can be a product of intense episodes that become crises or by prolonged intervals of replaying depressing scenarios in our heads. Whatever the case, you must remain mindful of the present.

Thinking about how the past has affected you belongs in the past. Thinking about how worrisome the future might be belongs in the future.

So, stop rehashing the same old issues and stop the what-if thinking. Remind yourself that the only moment you can do anything in is the present moment.

Ask yourself: “What are the things I can do right now to make my situation better?”

It doesn’t have to be the ultimate solution to all your problems, but every little improvement that you can do in the present will help you get through a moment of crisis.

Accept your past and embrace it. Recognize there is nothing you can do about the past. The longer you take to accept that you cannot change the past, the longer the past will have power over you.

If the uncertainty of the future is giving you trouble, be aware that fortunately, you have the power to influence your outcomes.

Don’t think about the future, think about your present best self and the future will play out the way you want it. The past is gone, and the future you want will never come unless you act in the present.

10. Divide and Conquer

Being overwhelmed can play an important role in whether or not you will be facing an emotional breakdown. When overwhelmed, our problems become a huge, formless mass of burden. Eventually this mass becomes invincible.

Often, this mass can make us feel buried under a pile of rubble — too heavy for us to even breathe. This is because we are seeing our problems as a whole.

So, if you are overwhelmed, refuse to face the many “monsters” at once, then focus on just one.

Take one issue, just one. You don’t even have to select it very carefully; tackle the first one that comes to your mind.

It is much simpler to divide your issues one by one than to think about them all at once, and be crushed by their weight alone. While you are at it, don’t allow the other problems to affect you simultaneously. You will have to deal with issue B later, but right now make it only about solving issue A.

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11. Unleash Your Emotions

Sometimes, we just need that moment of raw emotion to guide us. Why? Because too often, our negative emotions end up swept under the rug, slowly accumulating and becoming a subconscious burden. That is, until you burst!

So go ahead and scream, curse, kick a punching bag, cry or whatever… do everything you need in order to release the tension and stress. As long as nobody gets hurt, you will be doing yourself a favor. Your negative emotions also need expression and release.

When you unleash your emotions, a lot of things will start coming to the surface. Those are the issues that you really need to be working on.

12. Activate Affirmations

For many, affirmations are just pipe dreams with magical overtones. If you have used them before, though, you know they work.

But, you know what?  You don’t need to believe in them in order to reap the benefits.

Simply repeat the affirmations either aloud or in your head and most importantly, become aware of what you feel when reciting the affirmations.

Notice I said feel, not believe. Just embrace what it feels like. Be aware at the emotional level during the moment you are repeating your affirmations… you will simply be blown away. But don’t just take my word for it; try it out. In fact, try it out right now.

Take a deep breath and repeat this:

“I will overcome all my problems and find every answer need.”

Now please read it again, close your eyes and pay close attention to your feelings.

Not your mind, not your thoughts, not your doubt… be mindful of your feelings, that’s all. How does it feel?

Now take three deep breaths and repeat:

“Everything is possible for me, my potential is limitless.”

Create your own affirmations according to your own situation and repeat them to yourself when you are feeling down.

Or, you can get inspired by these 10 Positive Affirmations for Success that will Change your Life.

13. Forget Vulnerabilities, Focus on Your Powers

You might be having a very hard time and potentially facing an emotional breakdown, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do anything about it.

In fact, you have everything it takes to defeat it. But you won’t be able to defeat these issues if you focus only on the things that keep you down.

I can’t do this” will surely defeat anyone, no matter how strong and capable. This is a dead end! Therefore, it makes no sense to stay there.

Instead, you must focus on everything you can do, not the things you cannot change.

Think of at least 10 things you can do to make your situation better. 10 may seem like a lot, but you can actually come up with many more–10 is actually quite conservative.

You have a lot of potential, don’t let it be eclipsed by your current situation, because there is no point of comparison.

Stop thinking in terms of your shortcomings, think in terms of your capacity.

14. Everything Has an Expiration Date

Remind yourself that this feeling is temporary. Holding on to this principle has helped me through the most intense anxiety attacks. Because it is absolute truth.

When we are immersed in an emotional breakdown, our vision of the future is distorted… and pretty painful. And the emotional overload makes us think that “this is it”. But it is only a byproduct of the emotions bringing us down, not reality itself.

So, next time when anxiety draws you a picture of your future, simply refuse to take it as a real vision. Recognize how distorted it is. Also, recognize that the nervous breakdown is only a temporary state. And like everything else, this too, shall pass.

This quick-fix may as well be called “wait for the storm to pass,” because that’s what you can do.

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Take every thought and emotion you have as something fictitious. Painful, yes, but only temporary.

You are only going through a very bad time, but you will soon return to your baseline, and then up to a better state of mind. It will pass. So be still and know it will only be temporary.

15. Recenter With Visualization

What good can visualization do if you are having an emotional breakdown!?

Actually, it can do a lot.

Visualization takes you out of the emotional state that is holding you down. It is not just wishful thinking, but a clear vision of the exact goal you are aiming for–even when you don’t yet know it.

Maybe you can’t quite see where you are heading because you are swamped by emotions right now. But, this is precisely when visualization comes in handy. In visualization, there are no barriers. It’s just you, your desire and the constructive use of imagination.

How do you do it and how to make it work?

First, when I say visualize, I don’t necessarily mean that you have to create a crisp, crystal clear vision in your mind. Just thinking about what you want is enough.

Some people are more visual than others, but this doesn’t really matter. What matters is that you start immersing yourself in the visualization and start feeling the effects of this positive thinking.

Putting It Into Practice

Close your eyes and imagine a moment in the future where every worry is gone. You handled all the adversity like a pro and now you are living that moment.

What would it feel like? Is there anybody by your side? What are you doing? Why do you feel so happy? What happened to the things that were worrying you so much?

Take a couple minutes to register in detail how everything feels in that vision.

And after you are done, it’s time to make it work.

What solutions were implemented immediately before your visualization? That is, what led to that moment of joy in your life?

What caused it all to culminate on that visualization? Did someone new come into your life? Or maybe somebody left?

Did you finally learn how to deal with that difficult confrontation? What decisions did you make?

Tone Down the Tension

You see what we’re doing? We are reverse-engineering your visualization.

You know where you want to be. Now walk backwards and observe everything that needs to happen so that you can get there. Do it in as much detail as possible until you get to the present moment.

This process of visualization takes the tension off and works the other way around. Don’t focus on your problems, but on the desired outcome.

Visualization plus action will help you defeat a nervous breakdown.

Final Thoughts

These quick-fixes are only the first step to get you over your hump. As you can see, they help you at these difficult moments, but they are not the solution in itself.

Generally speaking, you must face a nervous breakdown with emotional detachment and practice stillness to avoid being shaken.

Nobody likes to be thrown around by emotions, and that’s why you must develop a more stoic approach when it comes to your emotional breakdowns.

Always keep in mind that these periods of intense stress are only temporary states, and that they do not hold absolute power over you.

The more you practice these quick-fixes, the easier you will handle crises in the future.

In the end, it’s not about trying to avoid pain, but to learn how to be bigger than your suffering. Putting these tactics above to use will help you regain control over your emotions.

More About Emotions Management

Featured photo credit: Riccardo Mion via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

George Alonso

Mental Health Expert, creator of the Transcendental Mindfulness Therapy.

Can a Dysfunctional Family Become Functional? Having an Emotional Breakdown? 15 Ways to Re-Center Yourself 9 Simple Mindfulness Exercises to Calm Your Mind How to Handle Relationship Fights to Connect Deeper with Your Partner Why You Keep Getting Into Toxic Relationships (And How to Stop)

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Last Updated on November 11, 2019

Can a Dysfunctional Family Become Functional?

Can a Dysfunctional Family Become Functional?

A dysfunctional family is more than disagreement or constant arguments. Anything from plain neglect, to abuse and even verbal and physical violence is the everyday experience of those who are part of a dysfunctional family.

You know how this looks:

  • Parents constantly comparing children.
  • Siblings in conflict because of tolerated bullying.
  • Domestic violence.
  • Adultery…
  • And many others.

For all the members, this will mean emotional pain and even trauma; which, in case it doesn’t get resolved, will have a detrimental effect on the individual’s personality and development.

Needless to say, the younger members are the most vulnerable, but that doesn’t mean the parents are out of danger, as most commonly the parents play the roles of abuser-codependent, and in some cases, both parts inflicting pain on one another.

Most like to think these problems stem from deep-seated issues, and that therefore it’s pretty much impossible to deal with them.

This is only true for families not willing to do what it takes, for if only a single member is determined and knows how to do it, the whole family can do a lot of progress.

In this article, I’ll break down for you the basic steps of fixing a dysfunctional family. Although it may seem hopeless, it is possible to turn things around.

If you have ever felt in this position, or if you know somebody who is, this article is for you.

How to fix a dysfunctional family

In a few words the solution for a dysfunctional family lies in dropping the ego, focusing on the solution, switching blame for responsibility and doing the work as a unity, for the good of the whole family.

And this will accomplish things you once only saw as a dream.

Dropping the ego? Switching blame for responsibility? Doing the work? What does all this mean?

It’s simple. In a nutshell, it’s that which will allow you to turn a dysfunctional family into a functional one.

Let’s take a look at how exactly this can be done. And near the end we will also talk about what you can do in a dysfunctional family with cynical traits.

Dysfunctional families where not only problems are well-known, but also nobody seems to want a fix or openly decide to perpetuate the harmful behaviors. Such as the case of abuse and physical violence.

There is also a solution for these, it’s just not what you are expecting…

Dysfunctional… Or just average?

Most families are dysfunctional, though at varying degrees of dysfunctionality.

The milder cases, are just marked by “typical” comically-shrouded bullying or lack of interest in other members’ development or wellbeing.

You can know a family is dysfunctional if their interactions are anything different than cooperation, solidarity, care and support. But let’s get more specific…

A dysfunctional family is one in which members directly or indirectly suffer emotional and/or physical harm inflicted by other members of their family. Most commonly, perpetrated by the parents.

Even harmful actions as “passive” as neglect, which is inflicted by inaction rather than action, signifies a dysfunction within the family.

Dysfunctional families have conflicts such as:

  • Unrealistic expectations
  • Lack of interest and time spent together
  • Sexism
  • Utilitarianism
  • Lack of empathy
  • Unequal or unfair treatment
  • Disrespect towards boundaries
  • Control Issues
  • Jealousy
  • Verbal and physical abuse
  • Violence and even sexual misconduct or abuse

You may think a dysfunctional family has very little or nothing to do with personal productivity, but you would be wrong in thinking this way…

If a person is not emotionally well, she will not be able to perform as desired, as the emotional harm that has been inflicted will hinder everyday performance in the way of inability to concentrate, lack of mental clarity and low levels of inspiration, motivation and discipline.

Having a functional family does exactly the opposite: It creates productive members with no emotional baggage.

How to turn it around

When you’re part of a dysfunctional family you know it. You can quickly identify in other members the behaviors and conflicts that create the dysfunction.

But just in case you’re having trouble telling functional from dysfunctional I will tell you the following:

One of the easiest ways you can recognize if you are in a dysfunctional family is to survey your won feelings.

We often overlook this, but have you stopped to ask yourself how you feel?

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As cheesy as it may sound it really sheds a lot of light on the subject.

What behaviors, actions and attitudes in your family you wish were better?

Do you think certain behaviors and actions from your family marked you in the past?

Sadly, we cannot go back to the past to correct it. But we can do a lot in the present…

Correction is possible

In order to fix a dysfunctional family, you must start by putting an end to the behaviors and actions that are affecting you.

Verbalize it.

All members of the dysfunctional family have one issue in common: They don’t put a stop to the harm.

Whenever you feel your boundaries being overstepped there is just one single word you have to remember: STOP.

This is the door to a better, more functional family, because after this, comes the fix.

But first you have to identify and make others know where exactly lies the problem.

So go ahead and fearlessly start with “Stop”, followed by your expression of dissatisfaction.

Putting it to work in real life

In real life it would be something like this:

“OK, stop! Every time you belittle me I feel you don’t care. I need attention and respect, and it is your responsibility as my family to provide them to me”

Or:

“Stop. When you compare me with my cousin it hurts, I feel like I don’t matter and that’s not ok. I ask you to stop doing it.

Or:

“Please stop. When you start yelling all respect is lost and it turns into a battle of who can do it louder. Don’t raise your voice and let’s work this out the way humans do”.

As you can see, here you start by putting a stop to the toxic behavior when it arises. And afterwards you verbalize why it’s wrong and what needs of you need to be fulfilled.

This is what you have to remember:

1-Stop.

2-Why it’s wrong?

3-What you need.

And this will also work well in case you need to do it for another family member.

It’s a family thing

A dysfunctional family cannot be fixed by one member alone.

Yes, a single member can initiate progress and be the leader of the change. But in order to completely become functional all members must contribute to the solution.

In other words, you will need cooperation…

So don’t be afraid of asking for it!

Approach your family member and ask to be listened.

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We sometimes feel our needs are “not that important” or we simply believe they won’t listen. But thinking like this would be like being defeated at an unfought battle.

You will be amazed by how much people listen when you voice your needs, especially if it implies showing yourself open, vulnerable and in need.

It’s not a free-for-all battle

In order to get your family to cooperate, first you must fix your individual relationships with every member of the family. Remember: Relationships are always between two people, and two people only.

No matter how complex, the quality of a multi-member relationship (like a family) will always depend on the quality of the individual relationships.

Once you have straightened the relationship with every member of the dysfunctional family you will be able to better communicate with other members and help in the betterment of their individual relationship.

And this is where we will talk about the fix itself. The one I mentioned in the introduction…

The method

1. Drop the ego

Wherever there is conflict there is ego.

You cannot fix a relationship where there is ego, because the ego will want to win. Always. Yours and the other person.

Ego craves control and satisfaction, and in many cases, to establish dominance.

What does this have to do with a dysfunctional family? Everything. Ego will interfere with every plan you have to fix it.

It will make people suborn and defensive. And it will also make them drop responsibility. This is why, the first step is to drop the ego.

After you make sure you are not going to allow your ego to interfere you must work to make the other person do the same. How? By speaking from the heart…

Tell the other person how important all this is to you.

Tell the other person that it’s not a matter of arguing, but just working things out together.

Point out how it is not possible for you to do it alone.

And ask for sincere attention without any desire of opposition, because what you are doing is by no means in the hopes of harming the other person, but just to better the relationship and stop the damage being dealt to you.

You will have to point out the mistakes you need corrected, that’s for sure. And that leads me to the next point…

2. Not blame, but responsibility

When talking about others’ mistakes we often use an accusatory tone. And that’s natural, it’s what things should be like if ego was not present.

But since we are all creatures of ego, this immediately brings the shields up. And then unsheathes the swords…

When we blame others they automatically enter a defensive state, and this only leads to a failed negotiation.

What you need to do is to shift from blame to responsibility. And even that will have to be done carefully!

Instead of telling them off or demanding change or complaining, calmly point what the problem with their behavior is.

As much as this feels contradictory, also make them feel understood. You know how difficult it is to accept a mistake, so just make them feel it’s no big fuzz… which does not mean it’s ok, but it takes tension off.

You will do something like this:

“Hello dad. Can I talk with you for a minute? I really need to tell you something.

I have been feeling pretty sad lately and I know this is something you do care about.

You see, whenever I talk about my accomplishments you mention something else that makes my achievement pale in comparison.

I know you don’t do this intentionally and I know you might have not realized this until now, but I want to let you know this really brings me down.

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It would mean a lot to me if you could stop doing it, and it would help better our relationship, because this has already forced me to distance myself from you. And I don’t want that, I want a good, healthy relationship with you”

What happened here?

We started off with making it something important, something that needs both time and attention. Then we openly show ourselves vulnerable, just as we are.

We also mention why he should listen, and shove our feelings there again, because they are important.

We describe the issue with no attachment and with no hostile intention. It’s just a description.

And then we take the blame off. Just before we assign responsibility without actually saying it.

You are not blaming him directly, but you are pointing out the inevitable fact that his actions are causing a dysfunctionality. He is now responsible for changing.

This is what “switching blame for responsibility” means. What comes next? Doing the work!

3. Doing the work

What would any of this mean if, in the end, nothing changes? Exactly, nothing!

This is why you must follow up with every change that needs to be done.

Do so in a manner that is not hostile. Bring it up in a casual manner, and emphasizing how you both reached an agreement and how that is important to the family.

If the person doesn’t follow up don’t hesitate to bring it up again, and tell them you feel disappointed that your honest try at it was not listened.

It may even be a subject in itself, and therefore the need for another conversation.

“When you go back to old habits it shows that you didn’t really care about what I said. But back in real life you just reinforce how much contempt you show towards me and my feelings.

I talk with you because I care. Because although it would be easier for me to just distance myself from you I rather do my part in nurturing this relationship.

But there is just so much I can do, if you refuse to do your part I can do nothing else.”

You need very clear and positive communication in order to make this work.

Love is all you need

You must remember that in order for a dysfunctional family to become functional, all the work needs to stem from love.

That is the single one requirement for all this to work: Love.

And what happens if it simply is not there?

What happens if, nobody is willing to do what it takes?

What happens if a member of the family refuses to change and is happy with the harm he or she is dealing?

There is only one thing you can do:

To break away.

Let’s be honest, people, especially adults, are very difficult to change.

There is a Jewish proverb that I love, which sums it up like this:

“We spend the rest of our lives trying to unlearn what we learned before we were 7”

If you find it very hard to change the very traits that make your family dysfunctional or if it’s simply impossible, you still have a card up your sleeve…

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Although nobody likes to beak away from family members, we must remember we have a responsibility with ourselves as individuals, before any relationship with anyone.

You have the responsibility of making yourself happy and free. Because you matter as an individual, regardless of any relationships you have, be it family, friendship or romantic.

Putting distance

So in case you are dealing with a family member who is simply unwilling to change take both physical and emotional distance.

What do I mean?

Learn, first, to take their damage in a detached manner.

Don’t let it hurt you further. Instead take a deep breath and distance yourself emotionally.

Don’t be attached to feelings such as “Why doesn’t she love me?” or “What did I do to deserve this?” or “If he wasn’t like that my life would be perfect”.

Simply refuse to keep participating in the emotional downward spiral and accept, even if it’s painful” that there is nothing you can do. Accept that even without that relationship you are whole, you are worthy of love and respect.

They are their responsibility and you are yours. So decide what is best for you.

Realize it only comes down to two possibilities:

I keep the relationship and therefore accept the abuse. Or…

I choose my peace of mind.

And don’t let your mind fool you. We often think that since we all are imperfect, we must take the good and the bad behaviors of people. And we are especially forgiving towards our family…

Well, guess what? We are also responsible adults who are aware and must own to their acts. Never excuse abuse or violence or transgression towards you or anybody else.

Choose your happiness and if possible, also distance yourself physically, as it will increase your peace of mind tenfold.

How to prevent it

There are two key concepts you must bear in mind in order to prevent the dysfunctionality of a family:

  • To be completely aware of one’s own mistakes and not allow them to impact others and…
  • To make sure our SO’s are also on the same channel before creating a family (i.e. having children)

Dysfunctional families are the product of irresponsible paternity, for the decades-long unresolved emotional conflict ends up surfacing in the family inevitably, and it will for sure harm those who least deserve it: Innocent children.

You may notice we went from talking about family, to talking about individual relationships, to talking about you. We went from “them” to “us” to “me”.

Why? Because in the end you have the power to fix a dysfunctional family. To correct the mistakes you have in yours and to prevent dysfunctionalities if you don’t have a family but plan to create one.

Priorities and clear thought

You may be part of a dysfunctional family, but that does not mean you are powerless or that you have to suffer the consequences.

You learned today how it’s all a matter of priorities and thinking clearly.

You learned that, if love exists, everything is possible. You learned that even when there is no love and no fix for your dysfunctional family, there are still things you can do. It’s a matter of choosing your peace, because you deserve it.

Everything will be better if you apply this knowledge. If you talk to that problematic family member. If you help them see the harm they are doing. If you make sure they do change and treat you the way you need to be treated…

If you choose yourself over that toxic family member. If you refuse to justify the harm that others can do to yourself. If you realize the most important relationship you have is with yourself.

And lastly, that you also have to be aware of your actions and be open to criticism. Because we might be unknowingly harming others. And that would be us creating a dysfunctionality. Don’t allow it to happen.

Dysfunctional families are not impossible to fix. It just takes love, cooperation and responsibility.

But if you tried and those elements are not present, just choose yourself instead.

Featured photo credit: Xavier Mouton Photographie via unsplash.com

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