I’m a huge family person. I love all my family members. Unlike your friends who you can choose to have in your life. You’re born into your family. There are sayings attached to family people take literally. Family comes first, and there’s nothing more important than family save God. But according to psychologists and scientists, if certain members of your family are causing you distress, discomfort or affecting your health negatively, it’s time to boot them from your life. The same can be said if they’re mistreating your spouse or children, it’s time to ditch them.
This may seem like a difficult and perhaps foreign concept to embrace. In many cultures, family is everything; and abandoning your loved ones is unheard of and unacceptable. Regardless of culture or upbringing, arguments and disputes are common in all families. But when do these fights cross the line from disagreements to downright toxic? Here are some tips and cues from the professionals.
Sherrie Campbell, a licensed California psychologist and author of the book Loving Yourself: The Mastery of Being Your Own Person, noted the first signs it’s time to cut off someone in your family is if your relationship has become abusive. She said: ‘when the relationship is based on any kind of abuse, mentally, physically, sexually, verbally or emotionally. When the relationship is based on manipulation, overt or covert, you can be sure you are being used and abused. When you are living in constant anxiety never knowing or being able to predict how any engagement is going to turn out, it is time to love yourself enough to let go.’
Campbell also said when a relationship has started to impact other areas of your life like work; it’s time to cut folks off. The stress you are experiencing is overflowing into areas of your life, and it might be impacting your job performance. She also stated that if the relationship is one-sided, it might be time to sever ties. For instance, you’re giving a family member money and not receiving anything in return.
An article in the Huffington Post echoed this sentiment by saying: ‘when the relationship is completely all about the other person and there is no real reason why the other person cannot make any effort towards the health and maintenance of the relationship with you.’
Jamye Waxman has a Masters in Education and is the author of How to Break Up With Anyone: Letting Go of Friends, Family, and Everyone In-Between. She said maintaining a toxic relationship can negatively affect your health. ‘Stressful relationships, including those with relatives, can increase the risk of high blood pressure, weaken your immune system, cause headaches and stomachaches, lead to sleep problems, lower your self-esteem, and cause depression and anxiety. So ditching that toxic family member can be good for your health.’
Mark Goulston, MD, is a clinical psychiatrist as well as the author of Talking to Crazy: How to Deal with the Irrational and Impossible People in Your Life. He said that if merely mentioning someone’s name causes a negative feeling within you, it’s time to cut ties. ‘The person makes you sick. If just the mention of the relative’s name, or a text message, e-mail, or voicemail from the person puts a huge knot in your stomach, that’s a clue the relationship has become unhealthy.’
Steven J. Hanley, Ph.D. approached these relationships from another angle. the clinical psychologist said, ‘If maintaining the relationship is harmful to your spouse or children—for instance, your mom clearly favors one of your children while neglecting the others—you may need to take a step back for your family’s sake.’