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Navigating Family Dysfunction: 4 Essential Coping Strategies

In the current culture, television shows like Shameless or Modern Family are relatable because of their family dysfunction. Shows about awkward family dynamics may lure you in as you relate to the relationships between family members.

During recovery, you are learning a great deal about yourself and it can be hard to look to your family for support. Perhaps you feel like you do not know who they are since you have been focusing on yourself for so long. On the other hand, maybe you can recognize the dysfunction since you are in recovery. Now you don’t know how to navigate your family healthfully.

No matter where you are in this journey, navigating family dysfunction is hard work and takes perseverance and dedication. This article will discuss the benefits of boundaries in a dysfunctional family, delve into healthy coping skills to utilize, and explore how The Guest House can provide comfort through individual and group therapy for alumni.

Taking Ownership of Your Actions in Family Dysfunction

Your relationships with your parents are likely two of the most influential connections you will have in your life. Unfortunately, these relationships are not always simple. Family relationships tend to be hectic even when they appear to be perfect.

There is no perfect family that will meet your needs all of the time. According to the journal Innovation in Aging, as children become adults, families become more complex. Additionally, family relationships change over time due to the needs of each individual.

Self-Reflect About Your Relationships

Take several minutes to ponder how your actions have affected family relationships. In recovery, you are taught that it is important to take ownership of your actions. When family dysfunction is present, the situation is no different. You cannot solve all the world’s problems, but can take responsibility for your actions in relationships.

There is no simple way to make all the chaos disappear but there are helpful hints to limit family dysfunction in your recovery. It may feel like it will be too hard to make a difference with your family. However, you have come too far to give up on your relationships now.

# 1. Set Clear Boundaries About Family Dysfunction

Once you can separate your family’s dysfunction from your own, it is easier to realize your expectations of what you deserve. At the same time, it is easy to reflect on the relationships that you do not have and harder to see what you do have.

Understanding that you have the power to set boundaries can be a life-changing concept. You have the power to make choices as to what you share and not to share with people. Boundaries give you the power to determine what is safe in your recovery and what you want to avoid experiencing.

Brene Brown describes boundaries as “simply our lists of what is okay and what is not.” In a family setting, setting boundaries may look similar to this:

  • Giving yourself an “out” at family functions. An example would be that you only can stay for two hours because you have to go home and let your dog out.
  • Saying “no” to spend time with people who make you uncomfortable.
  • Asking a relative to not use substances around you at a family function.
  • Having transportation so you can leave when you are ready.
  • Asking to not be interrupted when you’re talking.

To be effective, boundaries should have consequences. Tell your family members what you need from them and follow through with the consequences if needed.

#2. Minimize Contact With Family Dysfunction

Putting a limit on the time you spend around family dysfunction can be a way to create more peace in your life. Spending time away from certain family members can help you to refresh and bring a sense of calm to your world. Sometimes you may not even be aware of how much your family dysfunction is adding stress to your life until you remove yourself from it.

As mentioned, boundaries are the limits of what is okay and what is not okay in your life. Minimizing contact with your family can be just what you need to de-stress and escape from the chaos. It becomes tiring to always focus on how the family dysfunction is affecting you. Exploring what makes you happy will lead you to brighter pastures.

#3. Build Healthy Relationships

Relationships are essential for living your best life. You may want to strive to have healthy relationships, as they can bring an immense amount of joy and calm to your world.

At The Guest House, we understand how hard it can be to build healthy relationships. This is why we developed an alumni program that will meet you right where you are at in your journey. Everyone deserves to engage in healthy relationships and we desire to provide what you need in recovery.

Additionally, attending a 12-Step meeting can provide extra support during your recovery journey.

#4. Recognize Your Worth

You are not here by accident or chance. Family dysfunction can make you feel like you don’t have value or self-worth. This is simply a skewed belief created by the dysfunctional dynamics. In recovery, you have overcome some of the most difficult challenges you could ever face. Therefore, you have the strength within you to recognize your worth.

If your self-worth is tied to how family members treat you, you will tend to perceive yourself as having little value. Instead of relying on your family, identify your strengths and what you have to offer those around you. Focus on yourself and how you have begun creating the newly healthy and dynamic person that you are. You deserve to start over and build your own healthy sense of self.

Family dysfunction comes in all shapes and sizes. However, sometimes it can become too much of a burden for you to handle. You may feel alone or feel like no one understands what you are going through. Still, some people care and want to see you succeed. We understand family dysfunction. Although we cannot determine whether your family can improve their dynamics, we at The Guest House can guarantee that we will support you every step of the way. If you or someone you know is struggling with family dysfunction, please do not hesitate to give us a call at (855) 483-7800. We want to meet you where you are at in your journey to a fulfilling and healthy life.