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How to Deal with a Dysfunctional Family

by eHow Contributor

People who come from a dysfunctional family experience trauma and emotional pain, which affect their ability to live happy, fulfilling lives. They are forced into unnatural roles that deplete their self-esteem. Many feel inexplicably drawn to repeat the behaviors of dysfunctional family members, or they are attracted to people who embody the characteristics of abusive family members. If you live with verbal, emotional, and physical abuse, follow the steps below to deal with a dysfunctional family.

Begin dealing with a dysfunctional family by accepting the family dysfunction. Family dysfunction takes on a life of its own. In order for the dysfunctional family to continue its unhealthy behavior, people in the family remain in denial of the dysfunction. They make excuses for abuse and enable family members at the cost of their own self-esteem. By accepting the family dysfunction, denial cannot exist anymore and denial is one of the main symptoms of family dysfunction. By accepting the family dysfunction, you admit that there is a problem. This is the first step to deal with a dysfunctional family.

Don't try to change anyone but yourself. This idea can be hard to grasp when a person is dealing with a dysfunctional family. It's impossible to change other people, so don't think you can stop family dysfunction by trying to change someone else's behavior. You can't. Instead focus on your own feelings and coping mechanisms. Look to your own character defects. How can you set boundaries? What can you do to improve your life? What behaviors are you engaging with that enable the dysfunction to continue? Do you take on the responsibilities for dysfunctional family members?

To deal with a dysfunctional family, make sure to take care of yourself. Many people who suffer from family dysfunction neglect their own health and responsibilities. They avoid their own feelings and emotional health. Make sure to do things every day that affirm your self-esteem. Exercise and eat right. Get your nails done. Start a hobby. Doing things for yourself every day is an effective way to deal with family dysfunction.

Don't deal with a dysfunctional family by yourself. Join an appropriate 12-step program. There are several 12-step programs that deal with family dysfunction. Most dysfunctional families have some kind of substance abuse issue. If you're not sure if there is a substance abuse problem, start going to Al-Anon meetings. Al-Anon meetings are for people who have been affected by someone else's drinking; however, the meetings help people detach from the dysfunctional behavior of others. In addition, Al-Anon meetings are more prevalent and easier to find than most other group support. The most important thing is that you do not deal with a dysfunctional family by yourself. Joining a support group is the best way to heal from living with family dysfunction.

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