Stepping Back from Family Drama: How to Disengage without Estrangement

Stepping Back from Family Drama: How to Disengage without Estrangement

Every family has discord now and then, but there are some families that just seem to thrive on drama. If there are family members who constantly interrupt your daily life with their never-ending drama, it can be difficult to break away without causing them to become angry at you. However, there comes a time when you have to step back for the sake of your own well-being, and there are several ways that you can accomplish this.

Step Back Gradually

If you’ve always been the family mediator, breaking away from the constant arguing and petty fights can be difficult. Begin gradually; screen your phone calls, allow calls to go to voice mail, and when you return calls, explain that you can’t be available all of the time because of your own obligations to work and family. Avoid new drama when it crops up.

Stop Playing Everyone’s Therapist

When family members come to you with their problems, it’s natural that you’ll want to help, but eventually, you may realize that everyone is using you for a sounding board. When this happens, you absorb everyone’s stress and troubles, which can have a negative impact on your own emotional well-being. Realize that while you love your family members, you’re only one person, and that you can’t take on everyone’s problems.

Realize When Solutions Are Being Rejected

When you offer advice to your family members, realize when they truly want solutions and when they simply want to generate drama. When a number of solutions are instantly rejected and the individual seems more focused on ranting than they are about finding a solution to the problem, it’s time to step back. Detach and wish them well, but don’t accuse them of not listening, as this will only cause more arguing.

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Don’t Take Sides

If family drama includes family members in conflict, then avoid taking sides. While it can be difficult to avoid, let the people involved know that while you’re willing to offer a sympathetic ear, you’re not interested in being on one side or the other. This will only embroil you deeper in the drama and make it harder to remain objective.

Avoid Public Battles

Some families love to take their drama to social media, particularly Facebook, where one passive-aggressive comment can cause pages and pages of arguing in the comments. Avoid jumping in on this, whether it’s to defend someone or you’re trying to end the fighting. Let the argument burn itself out, but stay out of it and let your family know that you won’t be discussing family problems publicly.

Learn When to Let Go

It’s natural that you want everyone in your family to get along, but when people are radically different from one another, it may be that this can never happen. While it may be painful for you to see family members become estranged, you must remember that some problems are too big for one person to solve.

Look After Your Own Mental Health

When you’re embroiled in family drama, it’s easy to forget about your own mental health. If you find yourself lying awake at night worrying about your family’s problems or other signs of stress, seek out a therapist or another trusted individual to discuss your feelings. Don’t bottle up your feelings, as this will only lead to illness and depression that will negatively impact your life.

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