In a recent article by Christian Sinclair, called “WHY CUTTING OUT TOXIC FAMILY IS A SPIRITUAL ACTION,” he gave some proper guidelines regarding the use and abuse often being practiced by some of our family members. Let’s start this post with some of the highlights from the article.
We often hear people say things such as, “You never turn your back on family,” “It’s the only family you’ve got,” or “Family is forever” The sayings and sentiments around family are endless. We see and hear about loving families and our hearts often aches if we think about some members in our own. We hope and wish that maybe they will change. We think “Maybe if I love them enough, they will see my efforts and know how much I care and that will be enough.” We want to believe that somehow our family will have a pivotal moment that transforms their thoughts, actions, and behaviors and that the family we long to have will finally manifest. Unfortunately, more often than not, some people will never change and instead we are left building ourselves up, while our families let us down or even misuse and abuse us.
It’s normal to want to have a good relationship with our family. However, there comes a time where we have to cut our losses and realize that by staying in the relationship with some of our family members we are allowing ourselves to stay in harm’s way. The fact that you were born into a family does not mean you need to subject yourself to the way they treat you.
When you put crabs together in a bucket and one tries to escape, the other crabs will claw and grab it, pulling it back down into the bucket. Similarly, this is how human nature and family nature can work as well. When you escape the family dynamics, or family mentality, they may be less than thrilled and attempt to pull you back into the bucket. If you are healing, expanding and growing your consciousness you may not be able to make yourself fit into the old family dynamic or be able to stomach the old behavior. This doesn’t make anyone better than another, it simply means your energy and intentions are no longer aligned and may have difficulty coexisting.
WHY IT’S IMPORTANT TO CUT TOXIC FAMILY FROM YOUR LIFE
In every family there are roles that each member plays. If our family is unhealthy it may be difficult or impossible to step out of that role and become your most authentic self. They will see you as the person you were and project that identity on you in the present which may also cloud your perception and personal growth. By disconnecting from your family, you give yourself the ability to unapologetically grow into the real you without staying stuck in the ideas they have of who you are.
If you break a bone and it doesn’t set properly you risk rebreaking it or worse, letting it “heal” the wrong way. When we are attempting to heal relationships, we have to take ourselves out of the situation in order to heal it properly. Especially regarding family. There are many paradigms that are built in a family dynamic and sometimes it requires objective observation that comes from having. distance. By allowing yourself that distance you allow yourself to fully process your own thoughts and feelings without justification or denial from the other party.
HOW TO KNOW WHEN YOUR FAMILY IS TOXIC
There are many types of toxic people and that can take many forms, loudly or passively. A basic guideline is that your family should never demean, criticize, or harm you emotionally, mentally, physically or spiritually.
Your family should always do everything in their power to:
Love and support you, encourage your wellbeing, listen to you, speak kind words, remember important dates and support or at least respect things that matter to you. They should see your worth, value you and your opinion and stand up for you. If needed, they should apologize, take responsibility, and change if they fail or fall short on any of these things. A family that is centered in using these guidelines as a healthy foundation will most likely be a family worth having, supporting, and keeping in your life.
Alternatively, there are many ways family foundations are unhealthy, unstable, or even abusive. You cannot let yourself be mistreated just because you want to be in contact with your family. If your family is continuously treating you badly or disrespecting you should then consider separating from them. Sometimes it can be difficult to recognize how unhealthy their behavior is because you may be used to it.
Some of the most toxic family personalities and behaviors are:
1.They Are Mentally, Physically, Emotionally, Sexually, or Spiritually Abusive
Abuse takes many forms and styles. We tend to think that if abuse doesn’t look the way it does in the movies that it’s “Not that bad.” But abuse in ANY form is wrong and unacceptable. You have the right to feel safe and respected in your body, mind and spirit, and if you feel violated in any way you have the right to cut that person(s) out of your life. You do not have to explain it or justify it beyond that.
2.They Are Narcissists
This is absolutely one of the most difficult obstacles when it comes to family. The term narcissist has become a trendy word that is quite frequently used to describe someone who seems to have an inflated ego. Unfortunately, the real psychological disorder of narcissism far exceeds simply thinking a little too highly of oneself. Narcissists typically lack empathy, are manipulative, have a heightened sense of self importance, see themselves as “holier than thou,” are arrogant, and demanding. The difficulty with having one or more narcissists in your family is that since they think so highly of themselves they generally refuse to accept responsibility for anything and are therefore unwilling to change. They see themselves as above average and everyone else as the problem and their denial keeps them from ever changing or growing. You urgently need to realize that you should have no place for their behavior or personality in your life and the only remedy is to cut them out.
- They Are “Latter Day” Worldly People
Their worldliness has a direct impact on your life. They are “lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power.” (2 Tim. 3) Paul says, “from such people turn away!”
- They Never Follow Through With Their Promises
If your family is consistently breaking their word or engaged in lies, you may need to cut them out. Even worse, do they tell you they will change hurtful behavior but won’t?
- They Make You Feel Insane
While some family members may be more aggressive in their toxicity, some can be more passive or manipulative which may even go unnoticed to the outside world. These types of family’s members may make you feel insane or question your sanity. One example of this is when they are wrong in a situation but manipulate you into not only wondering if you were wrong all along, but also make you feel guilty for calling attention to their behavior. This could also be a form of gaslighting, which is a form manipulation that downplays your thoughts, feelings, and emotions and makes you question your sanity. Whether intentionally gaslighting you or not, if you hear yourself asking questions like, “Am I the crazy one here?” When interacting with your family, you probably aren’t. You are probably experiencing gaslighting in some form and need to break free of the behavior to be able to better understand it.
- You Just Don’t Resonate With Them
It can feel easier to cut someone out of our lives who is aggressively hurting us, but what if you just don’t resonate with your family as people? Sometimes Christian folk feel like their family doesn’t get their spiritual path or even worse, are being mocked because of their Christian lives and believes.
STEPS OF CUTTING OUT TOXIC FAMILY
Cutting out family members may vary depending on the degree of their behavior and of course depends on your own intuition and what you are aligned with.
1.Start With Boundaries.
Focus on setting some fair, but solid boundaries with yourself and your family. The people who have the biggest problems with boundaries are the ones who like to push them, so your family may not like this. They may also begin to adjust and adapt accordingly which will assist everyone’s expansion.
- You May Have To Cut Them Out Completely
If you set boundaries and don’t feel like your family is respecting them you may have to cut them out completely. This is a more extreme measure but sometimes the only option. You may also just need to cut them out with out bothering with boundaries in the first place. You know your family and situation best.
The quote, “People treat you the way you allow them to treat you” is very true. Setting boundaries or changing what you allow may be shocking to your family system, but we are in families to help each other wake up. If they are not willing then it takes the more spirituality minded soul to put the shift in motion. You cannot repeatedly give all of yourself to your family only to be disregarded, mistreated, or abused. If your family refuses to change, grow, or heal, you will have to be the one to change the pattern. They will not suddenly love or appreciate you because you give all of yourself. Please acknowledge that you have done all you can, you have done more than needed, and it is not your responsibility to save them. Sometimes the most spiritual action is walking away and letting someone see just how far from their inner being they are living.
BEING A CHRISTIAN, THE ABOVE ARTICLE MAY COME FORTH AS A LITTLE HARSH … BUT WHAT DOES THE BIBLE TEACHES IN THIS REGARD?
You may wonder whether it isn’t sinful and wrong to cut off ties with family, even if they were or are abusive. Isn’t the proper thing to do, to be patient and tolerant of their sins?
I don’t believe for one second that the Lord wants us to be endlessly patient and tolerant of others who choose to sin, especially those who sin directly against us. If that were the case, God would find it a sin for us to protect ourselves in any ways, and He doesn’t. Choosing not to entertain the shameful use and abuse of toxic family members, does not make us less-Christian, or “un-Christian,” or ungodly, or anything else along those lines.
It’s hard for a person that has never experienced abuse to understand how a family relationship could be so toxic; toxic to the point it resulted in casting one’s family members out of your life. My prayer is that you come to understand the worth that God has truly placed on you, and I pray you find the strength to embrace that with all of your being; honoring yourself and loving yourself for all that He truly made you to be. (1 Corinthians 10:13, Romans 12:2, Psalm 139:13-14)
I agree that forgiving is the proper thing to do, for our own peace of mind. Revenge is God’s alone (Romans 12:10) but I am also mindful that the Bible does not tell us to forgive unrepentant people. (Luke 17:3-4). And nowhere in the bible are we instructed to continue on in an abusive, unhealthy, toxic relationship.
There is a thing like second chances, or even a third of a forth, but somewhere a long the lines we need to come to terms with the fact that some people will never change. Even the most Godly and righteous men of God did nott have to keep going back for more. No one has the right to expect us to live our lives being abused, or to judge us for turning our back on them. (Proverbs 31:9)
In the bible, patience is listed as a “gift of the Holy Spirit” and is considered a righteous person’s trait. (Galatians 5:22-23) When this is taken out of context it has a completely different meaning from the way it is presented in Scripture. “Patience”, in the Biblical context, generally refers to not losing faith in God when we are going through hard times, being patient in waiting for Him to rescue us from our trials, and persevering in our faith until we reach our reward in heaven (Proverbs 3:5-6, Psalm 27:13-14). It does NOT refer to being patient in waiting for evil people to change their ways. This is a total misrepresentation of the Word of God. Biblical “patience” never refers to us being patient with wickedness, hurtfulness, abuse, or offensive behavior.
The Bible does not tell us to continue in relationships with people who have damaged us, or are still damaging us, family or not. In fact, the Scriptures are full of teachings instructing us to leave relationships with wicked or evil people, to be separate from them, to shun, outcast, and purge them from our midst. (1 Corinthians 15:33, Proverbs 13:20, Psalm 1:1, Proverbs 6:27, 1 Corinthians 5:11, 1 Corinthians 10:13 – these are just a few). Parents and siblings are no different.
Jesus told the disciples, “But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another.” (Matthew 10:25). God did not tell them not to love, He told them to love them from a distance, a great distance because we all must love – we are commanded to love but we are not commanded to love what the evil do.
Spreading the word and teaching others about God’s love for us and encouraging them is not just taught through words, it’s taught in the way that we each live our lives. It’s the light that we shine on the world. This includes the people that we surround ourselves with (Philippians 2:16-16, John 8:12, Matthew 15:16, 1 Peter 2:9, Colossians 3:17, Ephesians 5:8 – there are so many more).