Coming from an Unhealthy Family: 3 Powerful Ways to Deal with It Today

Coming from an Unhealthy Family: 3 Powerful Ways to Deal with It Today

Change Begins with You

People seek marriage counseling in Raleigh, NC for different reasons these days. Some have difficulties with emotional and sexual intimacy or trust issues. Others overthink everything or run anxious throughout their lives. Some people struggle with poor communication skills while others cannot cope with feelings of worthlessness, powerlessness, abandonment, and isolation.

Do you feel that you cannot trust your partner (or anyone else, speaking of that)?

Don’t know how to express your feelings and needs?

Always want to control everything?

Are you oversensitive and codependent in a relationship?

Do you need your partner’s constant attention to feel whole and secure?

Or you always try to please your spouse and other people at your own expense?

Do you struggle with alcohol and/or drug abuse?

Cannot connect with your SO emotionally and have troubles with sexual intimacy?

I see a lot of people in my marriage counseling in Raleigh, NC office with the above-mentioned problems. And most of them have one thing in common – they come from unhealthy families.

How to Deal with an Unhealthy Family?

Not a single family is perfect. Even those who seem that have it all together. While you cannot choose your family, you can overcome bad feelings caused by a malfunction from your childhood. The first step towards your recovery is to acknowledge that you need help. To get yourself back, you need to be open for personal and professional help. Allow your partner and/or other close people to comfort and support you. And seek professional mental health guidance.

You can help yourself.

You can change.

So, do the work, and do it every day.

1.    Acknowledge Your Experiences

During your childhood, you often felt invisible and unloved. Also, you were regularly criticized and blamed. Now that you moved out into your adult life, you make your own choices about where to live, what to do, who to love. But also, you need to learn how to deal with your nuclear family and its effects. You are still hurt by unhealthy interaction with your parents or/and siblings and unable to cope with resulting emotions. You feel unable to set clear boundaries and find a new way to relate to your family.

However, you need to learn to trust your own opinions and feelings because change begins with you. Most parents from dysfunctional families feel threatened by changes in their children. Thus, they may try to obstruct your efforts to change and cut your unhealthy family off. Don’t let this scare you, though. Do some specific things for yourself instead.

First things first, identify your painful childhood experiences. Did you grow up in a family where your feelings and needs were ignored and neglected? Were you forced to take sides in conflicts between your parents? Did your parents often criticize and disrespect you for your feelings or thoughts?  Were they over controlling or overprotective? Did they place an excessive amount of demands and expectations on your school success, behavior, choice of friends or free time but provided no guidance or support? Were they prone to drug/alcohol use or abusive and violent behaviors?

After you recognize your painful experiences and dysfunctional patterns in your family, make a list of beliefs and behaviors that you would like to change but also write down a list of desired behaviors or beliefs.

For example, you always need someone else’s approval for everything you do and now want to change to be more independent in your decisions and choices. Or you are anxious and overprotective towards your children and your spouse and want to be more relaxed. You are a perfectionist always stressed whether things will go smoothly and turn out right. You realize that these behaviors are harmful and want to change them.

Then begin practicing the alternate behaviors. In addition, practice positive affirmations. These are positive statements about yourself that can help you overcome negative and self-destructive thoughts and beliefs and reprogram your subconscious mind for success.

2.    Seek Personal and Professional Support

Once you acknowledge your experiences and start working on your personal growth, you might find it helpful to work with a professional counselor or/and to share your experiences with other people who grew up in unhealthy families. Also, you might want to allow your partner to encourage and comfort you. Be honest and open about your feelings. Stop trying to be perfect or to change your family. You need to understand that you cannot make others change, but you can change your own life, with the right professional and personal support.

3.    Work on Yourself Constantly

No change happens overnight. Don’t be discouraged if you find yourself going back to old patterns of behavior. Your personal growth will require time and constant effort. However, if you continue to practice positive affirmations and healthier behaviors, they will become part of your daily life.


Many of us grew up in unhealthy families, where communication patterns were unhealthy, relationships strained, behaviors inconsistent, discouraging, and often intimidating. We cannot choose our families. But you can overcome harsh feelings caused by living in an unhealthy family.

However, it is not easy to manage the emotional burden of an unhealthy family on your own. If you have any questions or would like to explore how I can support you in this process, do not hesitate to call at (703)-347-3200 for your free of charge 15-min consultation and/or to schedule an appointment in my Wake Forest Office or online.

You CAN do this! Cheers to your success and growth!


Irina Baechle,LCSW is a founder, owner, and a licensed therapist at IrinaBaechleCounselingLLC. She specializes in helping distant couples and anxious singles build truly connected and meaningful relationships. She currently offers online and in-home counseling services to residents of Virginia and North Carolina (and most countries abroad). Click here to schedule your free 15 min consultation. Follow her on Facebook, Pinterest, and Youtube for useful tips and resources.

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