The end of the year is always a natural time of reflection. Part of that process for me is reviewing all of the articles that I wrote and looking for trends and which topics resonated most with my readers. So, today I’m happy to share my ten most popular posts of 2018. Many of them are about the dynamics of codependent relationships, dysfunctional families and how they affect us, ways to cope with difficult people, and how to do what’s right for you (practicing self-care, setting boundaries, being more assertive, and so on) without feeling guilty.
If you missed any of these articles when they were first published, I hope you’ll read them now or bookmark them for later.
#1: 15 Signs You Have Toxic Parents
No one has a perfect relationship with their parents, but many people enjoy spending time with their parents in adulthood and come to love and appreciate their parents in new ways. Unfortunately, for others – those with toxic parents – this isn’t possible. No matter how hard you try, you simply can’t have a mutually satisfying and respectful relationship with people who are emotionally unhealthy.
#2: Why Do We Repeat the Same Dysfunctional Relationship Patterns Over and Over?
Unfortunately, dysfunctional relationship patterns are learned and passed from one generation to the next. And we will probably repeat them until we heal the underlying trauma and feel lovable and worthy of being treated with respect and kindness. We repeat dysfunctional relationship dynamics because they’re familiar. Even when you know something is “wrong” or unhealthy, it’s hard to change; it’s always easier to keep doing what you’ve always done than to learn and apply new skills. This is especially true in stressful situations. When your nervous system is overwhelmed, your emotions feel out of control, and your body is flooded with adrenaline, it’s extremely challenging to behave in a different way. This is in part due to our neurobiology.
#3: Dysfunctional Family Dynamics: Don’t Talk, Don’t Trust, Don’t Feel
If you grew up in a family with a chemically dependent, mentally ill, or abusive parent, you know how hard it is — and you know that everyone in the family is affected. Over time, the family begins to revolve around maintaining the status quo – the dysfunction. Rigid family rules and roles develop in dysfunctional families that help maintain the dysfunctional family system and allow the addict to keep using or the abuser to keep abusing. These unspoken family rules include: don’t talk, don’t trust, and don’t feel.
#4: Rescuing, Resenting, and Regretting: A Codependent Pattern
Codependents are often caretakers – which seems like a great quality except we tend to do it at our own expense and often when help isn’t wanted or needed. The result is a codependent pattern of rescuing, resenting, and regretting.
#5: Say Goodbye to Perfectionism: 12 Ways to Stop Being So Hard on Yourself
Perfectionists set impossibly high standards for themselves (and others), which leads to frustration, disappointment, and exhaustion. The bottom line is that perfectionism is hugely stressful and makes us feel worse about ourselves. We can strive and achieve and hustle relentlessly, but it will never be enough because we can never meet our unrealistic expectations. The alternative is to embrace our humanness – our imperfections and failings – and choose to be happier, healthier versions of ourselves.
#6: Dealing with Difficult Family Members: Don’t Justify, Argue, Defend, or Explain
If you’re an adult child of an alcoholic (ACA) or grew up in a “dysfunctional” family, you probably witnessed ineffective (or even hurtful) communication patterns as a child that were characterized by arguing, blaming, denying, and dishonesty. Unfortunately, most of us tend to repeat the communication patterns we learned in childhood – the ones we’re familiar with and that we observed. In this article, you’ll learn ways to avoid these dysfunctional communication patterns.
#7: 10 Tips for Dealing with your Toxic Parents
Left unchecked, toxic parents can take over your life and cause significant psychological damage. It’s not uncommon for adult children of dysfunctional, alcoholic, or toxic parents to feel trapped – unable to stand up for themselves and futilely trying to appease their parents. Use the ten strategies in this article to help you cope more effectively and do what’s right for you.
#8: Don’t Rely on Others to Validate Your Feelings
It’s important to have a sense of belonging and to be a part of a group — a family or community. And part of belonging to any group is to be known, understood, and accepted. But while it’s normal to want to be understood, we can’t depend on others to validate who we are, what we believe in, and how we feel. When we do, we compromise pieces of who we are in order to fit in and let others determine our self-worth.
#9: 6 Positive Psychology Tips that can Improve Your Everyday Life
Most people would like to be happier, or at least more content and relaxed. Positive psychology strives to help us understand how to be happier, more optimistic, and resilient. So, whether you have clinical depression or you’re down about a recent setback, positive psychology can be applied to your everyday life to improve your mood and wellbeing.
#10: Stop Trying to Change People Who Don’t Want to Change
Not everyone wants to change (or not in the way you think they should) and that’s their prerogative. Despite your desire to help, you can’t make people change and you can’t fix their problems (even when you have great ideas and their best interest at heart!). You simply can’t fix or solve other people’s problems and trying to do so often just makes things worse.
As another year comes to a close, I want to take this opportunity to thank all of you for reading my blog, leaving comments, and suggesting topics. If you’d like to learn more and access many of the free resources that I’ve created, please sign-up for my weekly newsletter below.
Popular posts from previous years:
©2018 Sharon Martin, LCSW
Photos courtesy of Unsplash.com