How to Keep Family Members From Stealing Your Joy

You’re not responsible for someone else’s behavior.

That was an eye opening revelation for me 20 years ago.

In the past I would think that I could control someone else feelings and behaviors (yes, very codependent of me, I know)

But what took me a little longer to learn was that they can’t control my feelings and behaviors either.

What a game changer.

To think, that my reaction to them was just that ; MINE. Made me take the responsibility off of them and put it where it belongs, on me.

In my Christian Coaching and Counseling practice, many of my clients battle between wanting to follow scripture and feeling abused.

They struggle with feeling manipulated into ‘honoring their mother and father’ and wanting to be Christ like.

This often leads to extended periods of repressed emotions that lead to uncontrolled outbursts. These outbursts lead to intense guilt and the cycle continues.

As you head into this holiday season, it doesn’t have to be that way. You can arm yourself against the attacks of people that ‘know not what they do’


Own your own feelings:

I have news that will change your life, if you let it. No one can “make’ you feel anything. I’ll let that sink in a moment. As much as others can ‘trigger’ us, they can’t ‘make’ us feel. The best way to get your joy back is to stop blaming others for ‘making’ you feel a certain way. Once you realize that you have to own your own feelings, you can now process them properly. If you need help processing old wounds and emotions, please consider getting professional help. It could be the very breakthrough that sets you free.


Keep a safe distance

Boundaries are important to protect our properties as well as our emotions. If you feel it is your job to let someone do or say what they want to you, than I hope that you will get help, as this is not what relationships are meant to look like. But it’s the other person’s job to put up boundaries for you, you must do that yourself. If you need help in learning how to set boundaries and be strong in keeping them, getting with a good counselor could be the guidance you need.


Don’t get sucked in.

You might be tempted to defend yourself or get pulled into a toxic conversation. Resist! It may be uncomfortable at first but it they will likely move on to someone else if you don’t engage. This doesn’t mean agreement either. Your responses are best left ‘neutral’ (think of business like responses)


Don’t think you can change them

Too many people think that they can smother negative, toxic people with positivity and expect them to change. Big mistake. If your family members are negative, toxic or even abusive, it’s likely behavior and thinking that has been ingrained in them for a long, long, long time.  A few positive statements aren’t going to change them. And once you let go of the expectation that they will change, you enter into the reality of the situation. Remember, you can love someone without feeling the need to have to change them.  Only God can change people and if he’s been trying with no success, what makes you think you can?

Family time can be fun time filled with wonderful memories both old and new, but for some families, it’s a cross to bear. You would do well to arm yourself with these tactics so that you can truly honor people the way God calls us to be.

If you’re struggling with difficult people in your life, family or otherwise, grab your FREE Toxic People Survival Guide to learn how to identify and deal with difficult people.

Need more help? My course “How to Deal with Toxic People” can help you say goodbye to guilt and hello to healthy boundaries in a God honoring way. Click here for more info:

4 replies
  1. Giannina Aline
    Giannina Aline says:

    Thanks so much this helped me a lot. I have a problem with my father, my parents are divorced and my father is the one who pays for everything because of that he acts like he can control me and everybody. I hate him so much I can’t help myself. I don’t even like to see his face and I live with him and my sister. He pays my university and he didn’t let me choose for real what I want to do in my life. He didn’t talk to me to know what is it that I like. I can’t have conversation with him. He is always working. And the only things he says is that one day his company where he works will be ours. So the only thing he wants is me working for his company nothing else. A long time ago I realized my dad is gay, and that’s no problem for me. But he thinks nobody knows, and acts like he is straight to everybody he is so fake. He even got a girlfriend. My mother once acussed him of being gay and he didn’t accepted it and called her a hoe. He goes to the church and prays and acts like he is doing nothing wrong. Actually he can’t see that he is doing everything wrong. He pays everything for me and I’m grateful for that but makes me so angry and nervous when I do something so little like not doing laundry or not washing the dishes he start saying me stuff like I’m lazy or I’m not doing things how I supposed to do. He get me soo bad vibes. He thinks he is perfect and nobody will ever take that thinking from him….How can I keep living like this? Help!

  2. Jonathan
    Jonathan says:

    I have been in a situation with my older brother who won’t talk to me and he steals any sleep I try to get it seems. I suffer with generalized anxiety disorder and this has been going on for years. Whenever I try to talk to him, he brings up negative things from the past that I’ve done which I’ve apologized for and don’t get why he keeps bringing up the same thing? The funny thing is that he talks to my oldest brother fine who recently just moved out and he talks to my mother but he acts almost afraid of me and won’t talk to me about what’s bothering him. He won’t come to me and I have to initiate everything. It’s sad and disheartening and angers me greatly that he just waits for everyone to talk and do things for him but he does nothing to initiate. I tried talking to my mother about it but she doesn’t take sides even when it’s reasonable and says that the both of us need to grow up. I have tried and my life has been hell for the past
    decade and still my brother refuses to change…I don’t know anyone like him honestly. He wants everyone to gravitate around him and he’s 30. It’s ridiculous! I realize he treats me like a child but, can’t he see that we’re getting older? I don’t know what his life is like outside home but to me he still seems like a kid who won’t grow up. I don’t know for sure if he’s the reason for all my problems but I have also suffered emotional abuse in school from bullying by some guy who took advantage when trying to befriend him. Ever since that incident at school my life has just been hell and now I have to deal with more problems at home? My anxiety is so great that I can literally have no fun in my life through games or TV. When I talk to my mom I just feel drained…I have only two friends and they’re both female. In my current situation I don’t know what to do because it’s gotten so bad that I think about suicide on a daily basis. I take medication but it does not help. Mostly, what I realize is that I choose to make the medication seem like it’s working by using the willpower to make myself sleep. It’s not working though because the source of that willpower is limited and once I get tired I fall back into a depression…it sucks big time. My life as a child was that I had a life but now…it’s just a wreck and I just feel like it’s because of some stranger in my life who chose to do so because of immaturity-not my brother but could be. I’m lost in life!

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  1. […] is a different matter; however, is it? Just because family members are fated, doesn’t give them the green light to mistreat you. What if there’s no unconditional love to speak of and everything is solely based on conditions? […]

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