Sneha has been a hardworking person since she was in school. Post-college, she got placed with a huge consulting firm. However, she felt that a lot of times she wasn’t able to speak up for herself even when she knew that she was right. She tried to avoid even the smallest conflict and chose to suffer in silence. She discussed this with her psychologist friend who told her that probably it was her upbringing in a toxic household that was the culprit. Sneha was puzzled by this explanation and wanted to understand it more elaborately.
Do you also feel that there is something inherently wrong and broken in the way your family is organized? Do you feel like staying away from your family because of the emotional distress living together creates? Don’t worry if you find Sneha’s story to be relatable. This article has been written to help you identify the signs of a toxic household, its impact on one’s professional life, and ways to manage the situation.
A toxic environment is something that is not limited to one’s workplace. A lot of households have all the elements that make one feel unsafe, doubt their self-worth, and hamper their growth as an individual. Apart from the direct negative consequences of living in a toxic home, a dysfunctional family can have profound psychological impacts that go on to severely affect an individual’s life later, both personally and professionally.
Four Signs to Identify a Toxic Home
We explained in our previous article on identifying the red flags of a toxic workplace environment. The situation can be much more complicated and tricky when it comes to figuring out toxicity at your home. However, certain indications potentially point towards a toxic relationship with your family. Here are some of them:
Small Conflicts Assume Huge Proportions: It is normal for family members to have differing opinions, lifestyles, and approach towards life. It is difficult to find a family where there aren’t minor clashes between members, often over trivial issues. However, if even the smallest of difference ends up becoming a major issue almost every time, then things might not be the way they should be in your family.
Family members try to control your behaviour: Those who care for you often give a lot of advice and opinions for your well being. But, if you feel that your family is trying to dictate the rules by which you live your life then it can be a cause for worry.
Your feelings are never a priority: Emotional abuse is often more difficult to identify. One way to know it is by checking where your emotions are placed in the family. If every decision is made without considering how you’d feel about it then it can be an indication of emotional abuse.
You are afraid for your safety: Things can often get so bad that you have to constantly worry about your physical and mental safety. If your family members threaten you then it is time to immediately seek out help from a reliable person or authority.
Professional Cost of Living in a Dysfunctional Family:
When children brought up in toxic homes become working professionals, they face certain issues that can be attributed to their upbringing. These are:
Inability to Voice Opinion in an Angry Situation: Altercations with colleagues and seniors are a part and parcel of one’s professional life. However, a lot of people freeze when put in a situation like that. They avoid saying anything to avert a conflict at the cost of their self-esteem and the usurpation of rights. Research shows that this is more common among people who have been brought up in families where physical and verbal abuse was very common. Thus these people develop an aversion to any form of conflict and bear even when they have got a valid point.
Feeling guilty for caring for yourself: The ability to take breaks from your work and say no to unnecessary burden plays an important role in a professional’s physical and mental well being. However, people who live in a household where self-care is seen as something bad tend to care for everyone around them except themselves. This tendency also increases the chance of having a burnout or a breakdown.
Inability to work without supervision: Most often, children of overprotective and authoritative parents end up becoming the least self-dependant employees. When not properly supervised, these individuals either take decisions impulsively or overreact to situations before considering alternatives.
Competitive in every situation: Toxic families usually promote unhealthy competition among members for access to resources. Competitive success in different aspects of life is seen as mandatory for appreciation by family members. This behavior culminates in an employee being over competitive in situations where team dynamics and synergy are required to do better.
How to Deal With Toxic Environment at Home:
Create a Safe Space by distancing yourself: Sounds obvious but sometimes the best way to deal with toxicity is not to deal with it at all. While it may not be possible for you to stay separately, you can surely avoid interactions and activities that promote conflict between you and your family members.
Reach Out to Friends or a Therapist: Coping with a toxic family can make you feel lonely. Talking to close friends or a therapist can help you process the pain in a better way. A therapist can also help you alter subconscious behavioral patterns engrained by an upbringing in a toxic family.
Ask questions When things begin to change for the first time: If a family member constantly advice what is the best way to live your life, you should always double-check that advice with some trusted person or if possible take professional advice initially. Otherwise, over a time of a few months, you begin to take that advice on face value.
It is important to understand that toxic behavior is different from abusive behavior. If you are facing physical abuse or sexual misconduct then please reach out to legal authority and seek immediate help.