How to deal with bossy, annoying, family members. (long)

Dont try to fix them

It is important to accept the family member as who they are and not try to change them, this will only cause more tension and possibly steer them towards resenting you and creating more problems.

Instead, try to focus on the positives in your relationship and not on what irritates you about them.

Try to list their good traits and the beneficial impact they also have on the wider family.

Focusing on the good can help us to see perspective, keep stress levels at bay by enabling you to tolerate them more and hopefully help both parties sit down and come to an agreement.

Warning Signs of Family Bullying

Adults' bullying tactics are more subtle, manipulative, and controlling than those children use. Bullying tends to happen more slowly over time through small actions and words.

Experiencing this type of behavior can be confusing and cause you to doubt your perceptions. You may even question your memory or your judgment. It can be helpful to write down bullying incidents, including how they made you feel. Doing so will help you recognize that what you're experiencing is real and not something you're imagining.

Recognizing the signs of bullying involves looking at how your interactions with the other person make you feel. If you feel hurt, confused, frustrated, misunderstood, anxious, worthless, or like you’re walking on eggshells any time you interact with this person, chances are high that you’re being bullied.

A family member who is bullying you may:

  • Have unrealistic expectations or make unreasonable demands
  • Blame you when things go wrong
  • Invalidate your thoughts and feelings by undermining, minimizing, or dismissing you or your thoughts
  • Create chaos in your life by starting arguments, nitpicking, or making contradictory statements
  • Use emotional blackmail as a way to control you or make you feel guilty
  • Act superior or condescending and attempt to one-up you or prove you wrong
  • Make jokes at your expense or be sarcastic and demeaning in their interactions
  • Cut you down or exaggerate your weaknesses and flaws as a way to make you feel inferior
  • Accuse you of being selfish, needy, or not committed to the family
  • Give you the silent treatment or attempt to get other family members to turn against you or shun you

If these things are happening in your family, it's normal to feel that your power is being diminished. You also may feel like your emotional or mental health is suffering due to the bullying.

If that is the case, it's time to start questioning the health of the relationship. Not only should you consider limiting your contact with this family member, but you also may want to get outside help such as a counselor or a mental health professional to help you learn how to interact and cope with this family member.

You also can contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 for confidential assistance from trained advocates. They can help you process the bullying you are experiencing.


If you dont feel safe

If you feel like you’re in danger, go to our urgent help page. You don’t have to solve this problem on your own. There are a number of services that can talk you through the best approach to your situation and help you work out a solution.

2.Tell only those who will support you

We love this unique framework. If you have a goal

We love this unique framework. If you have a goal about something you want to give up such as smoking or drinking, tell everyone. However, if you have a “move-up goal” like changing careers or starting a new business, only tell those who you know will support you in your decision.

People who support you won’t just blindly say yes to whatever you’re doing, and they shouldn’t. But they’ll know how to encourage you to accomplish your goals while providing constructive feedback when necessary.

3. The annoying person is unwise; so be charitable

The person who chooses to be annoying is a product of her circumstances. People choose negative habits through folly, never through wisdom. Why be annoyed by someone who has chosen to be unwise, consciously or unconsciously?

How to deal with toxic family members?

  • If you feel abused and unloved and uncared for, but are trying to put up with it because it comes from a family member… protect yourself.
  • Keep your distance as much as you can. Watch for trigger situations and avoid them, do not engage if you can avoid it.

Also, know this: You are not there to fix them.

  • You do not have to assist and help them through every crisis and drama that they are involved with. Sometimes, the transaction gets worse before it gets better, so be clear about your boundaries and enforce them.
  • Expect them to not like your boundaries. Do not buy into emotional and manipulative arguments about your requests, just stand by them.
  • If you cannot get support from other family members who are also aware of the situation – do your best to love yourself.

Self-care is your first priority.

  • Talk to someone who you trust and can confide in. Get some help from a professional or seek legal advice if you have real concerns about your safety or mental wellbeing.
  • Don’t keep everything under wraps. There is a saying “we are only as sick as our secrets”. Think about that. What are you hiding? And why? It is probably tied to guilt and shame regarding your family circumstances. If you know you need help, then get it. Love yourself enough to do this. Remember: self-care is your priority when you are in a toxic situation.

We have all heard about blood being “thicker than water” but with a toxic family member, no strong and wholesome bond is created. The bond does not exist in a healthy, sustainable way.

Key message: This is what relationships are really about… the bond between people.

You owe yourself the highest duty of care when toxic family members are unable to treat you with decency, love and respect. You owe it to yourself to stay emotionally unentwined so you can stay emotionally healthy. To identify those toxic family patterns and behaviors. To recognize the destructive outcomes of these behaviors and to not accept them.

I will say it again: Remember, relationships are all about the bond. Stay healthy, keep your boundaries strong, and walk away from toxic people and situations that mirror any destruction you grew up with.

If it is still happening with toxic family members, you need to protect yourself from further damage by distancing yourself. Do not give countless chances to abusive people. If they are family, that does complicate it incredibly, but abuse is abuse. We can learn all kinds of unhealthy behaviors when living with toxicity. We shift our boundaries and accept, excuse and condone unhealthy patterns and sometimes even begin to act the same way.

By staying healthy you give yourself the opportunity to create bonds with other healthy people. This is where you will find the love and peace you are looking for. Sometimes the tribe we connect with are not the same people we grew up with. Sometimes the love and kindness we receive aren’t from the ones we share blood ties with. Grieve it, but don’t let it hold you frozen in time.

Time is the one thing we cannot ever get back. It is gone, spent, wasted. The past doesn’t have to define your future. Do not waste your time watering rocks (I have said this before) and don’t waste your time hoping someone might morph into the person you desperately wish they were.

There are varying degrees of toxicity in relationships but dealing with people who are toxic is draining. Nothing is simple. Everything seems to be a drama; the goalposts keep being shifted and you can end up being hurt and feeling very low about yourself. Over time, you may also be filled with unresolved anger.

Trust these feelings because they come from your gut. Know that these feelings are telling you to find a way to stay safe and feel valued. No matter how hard it is, sometimes we must accept that the people who should mean the most to us, are sometimes the ones who do the least for us.

Accept that you cannot change them, it is not your responsibility to fix them and there is probably nothing you have done to contribute to their behavior.

If you are really struggling with breaking free from the family dynamic you are used to, write down the behaviors you would like to see in others. Write down the things you want to hear, do and feel with others. This is where you want to put your focus.

5. The annoying person does not deserve your hate

When we assent to anger or carry a grudge in response to annoyance, it affects us negatively more than it affects the other person. We may become less charitable towards them which makes us less virtuous. As we saw before, the annoying person is unwise and does not deserve our hate. When we hate the other person, we become like them. The best revenge is never to use actions arising out of anger and grudge to get even but to refuse to become like the other person.

What happens to us if we are dealing with a toxic family member and what does it look like?

The biggest thing that happens: our boundaries shift. We shift them so we can deal with the circumstances. We normalize abusive treatment, so it seems easier to tolerate. It becomes our reality. We learn to navigate it.

Mindset shifts for dealing with unsupportive family members

Share your why

If you have decided to follow a particular path or chase your dreams, don’t expect your family to get onboard automatically. Explain your reasons and help them understand why their support is essential. Let them know that even though things may change, your relationship will remain the same. Reassuring your family members may put them at ease. 

Since your family members are used to interacting with you in specific ways, sudden changes can be unsettling. Be patient and keep explaining why the change is essential until they get it. 

If they are unsupportive, find out why. They may be afraid for you or scared that you are leaving them behind. In such cases, you are likely to feel rejected and alone. While your first instinct may be to retreat and hold back information, you need to offer more information. 

Listen to their concerns patiently and put their minds at ease. Your loved ones are likely to support you if they understand you. 

Let go of expectations

Expectations breed disappointment. The sooner you let go of them, the better. No matter how hard you try, you will never get the support of certain family members, and that’s okay. Come up with a way to deal with your feelings without depending on others to validate them.

 When in doubt, remember that your passions are more important than what others think. Many people go through life trying to please others. They end up feeling unhappy and unfulfilled. If you are doing something you love, our founder Ramit Sethi advises that you let go of other people’s opinions. 

 Even though it is disheartening to lack support from your family members, life is too short to dwell on it. You don’t want to spend your life worrying about people and their opinions. Sometimes, their reasons for failing to support you are baseless and unwarranted. Follow your heart rather than the words of other people. 

Build your own support network

Create a support network away from your family. The network may include your friends, mentors, and others who wish you well. According to Ramit, when others support you, your family members’ criticism may not sting as much as when you have no support. 

 Everyone needs a strong social support network. It is essential when you are going through significant life changes or stressful times. If you have no one to lean on for support, you may experience feelings of loneliness, hopelessness, and isolation. When family members express their lack of support, it may send you over the edge. 

 You can create meaningful friendships and relationships no matter how old you are. It is never too late to create your support network. Friends, mentors, and other sources of support are an essential part of life. They make it easy to navigate tough times and celebrate wins. Your network can keep you accountable, making it possible to achieve your goals even faster. 

Set boundaries and stick to them

Everyone needs boundaries where their dreams are involved. While there is nothing wrong with taking the opinions of your loved ones, they must have limits. If everyone feels entitled to expressing all their views, you may be in trouble. Even when your family members disapprove of your goals, they should understand that the ultimate decision is yours. 

Boundaries are guidelines to let others know what you expect from them and how they can treat you. While they are mostly requests for other people to change their behavior, they can also be things you put up to protect yourself. 

One of the most significant benefits of boundaries is that they promote compassion. Even when your family doesn’t support you, boundaries can make them more compassionate. They can express their concerns and views respectfully. 

Boundaries will result in less anger and resentment. When there are no boundaries, your unsupportive family is bound to offend you. When you feel mistreated, you may feel angry and resentful towards them. From unsupportive parents to spouses and siblings, boundaries will speak for themselves. The chances of disrespect are reduced, and you are less likely to resent them. 

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Let time heal

As the saying goes, time is a healer. It is okay to take some time away from your relative to let the dust settle. At this point, it is likely that you have built up some resentments towards your family member which can make it difficult to control how you react and feel towards them.

Give yourself some time to take a break, reflect, adjust and implement the changes that have been agreed. Time may be the perfect ingredient for allowing your relationship to build and grow again and remember, that these things don’t happen overnight.


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