4 Ways to Deal With a Critical Family Without Sacrificing Your Sanity

Has anyone in your family ever been critical of you or your decisions? Many of the mothers I work with have families who criticize how they've raised their son or judge them for their son's behavior.  Do you have a strategy for dealing with their criticism?

 

You don't have to resort to arguments or other negative coping techniques in order to deal with their criticism. Your reactions to their comments are entirely up to you.

 

Try these methods to avoid arguing or allowing their comments to bring you down:

1. Avoid taking anything personally. Defensiveness and taking things personally are easy to do.

It's difficult not to take it personally when a family member makes a judgment about you or something or someone connected to you. You may feel assaulted and exposed, but you must keep in mind that theirs isn't the only voice worth listening to.


Remember that statements about you reveal more about the speaker's mental state than the content of the comments themselves. More than likely if they're critical about your appearance, they're also self-conscious about their own. If they're being overly critical about something your son has done, yes it's possible they can simply be concerned. But when it goes overboard, many times that person does not have much else going on to focus on. As a way to divert attention away from their own inadequacies, family members have been known to go on the attack against others.


2. Be aware of what sets you off.

Anger-inducing stimuli are known as "triggers." They're the kind of words or deeds that stick with you for a long time. It's possible to learn to recognize when others are "pushing your buttons" and intentionally relax yourself in order to reduce your response. You have to practice not giving your power away by allowing the trigger. to derail your day.


For example, unpleasant comments you or the status of your family could be a trigger for resentment. If you're feeling low, hopeless, or like a failure because of it, I want you to know you're not alone.


Because they know your triggers, family members can take advantage of your vulnerability. It's important that you don't give them that kind of control. Be honest with yourself. There are times when you and your loved ones may not be aware that they're causing you distress. To them, pointing out flaws will be helpful in helping you improve. But if you want to stop this in its tracks, express your feelings and let them know that you find their criticisms upsetting. Explain that you are aware of your problems and don't need to be reminded of them over and over again. It's your responsibility to let them know that their actions are counterproductive.


3. Set clear boundaries and stick with them.

Setting clear boundaries can teach others how to treat you. Make it clear to your loved ones what you will and will not accept. When you stand up for yourself, people will gradually become used to it and accept it.


If they cross these lines, be ready to take action. Then you may have to stop communicating with them or take other steps to make it clear that you mean business when it comes to establishing limits.


In spite of the fact that no one can be controlled, there are some things that you can do to make it clear you will not tolerate nasty or unpleasant comments.
Spending time with individuals who regularly hurt you is not something you have to do, even if you feel bound to do so by your family. Even your own relatives should treat you with respect.

 

Learning how to deal with your family's continual critiques is one of the best things you can do for your own peace of mind. Managing your emotions and the comments they make is difficult, but it is essential for your mental health and well-being. But remember, you can't change or control them, but you can change how you react.

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