5 Ways To Set Healthy Boundaries With Sh*tty Family Members

By Tracy Kopp, Fearless Leader

Family… you can’t choose ‘em.

If your family dynamic is all cutesy a la The Von Trapps, you can move along, this article is not for you. But if your crew is more Kardashians meets Shameless, dive on in.

Sometimes, family members seem to be born to make drama and suck the life out of everyone around them. It can be tough trying to set boundaries with these people, but it’s important that you do. In this blog post, we will discuss 5 ways to make better boundaries with sh*tty family members. Let’s get started!

‘No’ is a complete sentence

We bet you’ve heard this one before. The trick is in actually using it.

There are lots of things we could say to that family member who likes to create drama or suck our life force.

I feel complete in this conversation, Mary, thank you“, is one.

Most people have a running fantasy around the family member who drives them mad, titled “Things I wish I’d said”. We’d like to encourage you to consider that not saying the things may be impacting your health, both mental and physical. Headaches, tooth-grinding, neck and shoulder tension are some of the most common ways we manifest physical responses to our emotional pain.

Using absolute grace and the best manners you can muster will help you maintain your own peace and integrity as you speak your truth.

  • “No, thank you, I won’t be coming for dinner.”
  • “It’s my desire that you don’t buy a gift for my child this year, thank you.”
  • “I’d love to come for lunch and it’s important to me that we don’t have alcohol there, does that work for you?”
  • “I’d prefer not to have a conversation about this today, thank you.”

Your aim is not to be dragged into a long-form conversation/argument once you’ve stated your position, which leads us to point #2…

Stop explaining yourself

Do you turn yourself in knots trying to validate your own resistance to your sh*tty family member? Does a part of you feel ashamed for not wanting to be around them? Perhaps others in your tribe expect you to shut up and make nice?

Your intuition is important – listen to it.

Challenge the popular narrative that you must use logic and reason to explain why you’re feeling uncomfortable in a given situation. ‘Feeling something is off’ is as good a reason as any to move away from a person, place or situation. You don’t owe anyone an explanation, ever.

The more we seek to justify our position, the easier it is for sh*tty relatives to twist our truth around until we can’t recognise it ourselves any more.

Stop giving them ammunition. Shut your mouth.

Things start to improve when you start choosing you

If things between you and your family member have been challenging for a long time, you may wonder if the stress will ever end.

Remember that it’s okay to put yourself first. In fact, it’s essential if you’re going to make a long-lasting change to your family dynamic and restore peace in your own life.

Here’s a little secret you may not know… Things change when you start choosing you.

Setting clear boundaries and maintaining them is the way forward. Each time you use careful words and decisive actions to put space between you and your difficult family member, you choose to support and champion yourself.

This consistent self-love-in-action is how we embody real self-worth.

Consistency is key

If you’ve taken the easy road up til now, the practice of holding strong boundaries may feel super hard. Your ‘boundaries muscle’ is weak and out of shape. You’ve gotta flex that bad boy.

That’s right, keep working that muscle.

Every single time you choose you, you are creating a new story that says “I am important”.

Every time you hold strong and don’t collapse into old patterns, you rise.

Keep a clear head

It probably goes without saying, but when you’re socialising with people you don’t really like, drinking booze or using other substances to take the edge off is not a great plan.
A better option is to stay sober, face the challenge with grace and then get the hell out of there.

Now… we are realists over here, so please know that we are under NO illusion that our ‘5 hot tips’ are gonna solve your lifelong problems. A lifetime of therapy may feel more appropriate!

If you’re ready to look more deeply at patterns and stories that are keeping you stuck in a sh*tty family dynamic, our Holistic self-development therapists are a great place to start. We also offer intensive mentoring programs to help shift some of these shadowy companions, like our Empowered Woman program and Magic!