What Creates a Toxic Family?

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A toxic family leaves imprints upon children and grandchildren that often last a lifetime.

Low self-worth minimizes realization of personal potential. Social awkwardness or isolation diminishes quality of life. Many have a relentless desire to fill a vast gap within the heart, one that drives drug, alcohol, food or sex addiction.

It’s a rare family that values love beyond control and chooses to proactively address toxic dynamics. Often family members, through good intention, place Band-Aids atop dysfunction. A wound is soothed enough to function a bit longer. It’s an important step but the family generally moves from Band-Aid to Band-Aid, compensation to compensation.


The main fuel for the toxic family is denial. When family members directly address denial, dynamics shift quickly­–and often for good.

Denial comes in many forms: Denial of personal pain and suffering; of anxiety or anger; of poorly chosen words and actions. Denial of a desire to manipulate, control or play victim.

As each family member chooses to remove masks and personas, to get out of denial, we lessen toxicity. We develop a fulfilling inner relationship that extends to others.

There is great joy in relinquishing the burdens of persona, the baggage of being right or grasping for control. Through authenticity, comes health, the gradual settling into the deepened experience for which the soul yearns.

Ultimately, once revealed, we discover denial was cover-up of the authentic Self, our true nature.

To get real with denial is humbling, challenging and liberating. This is the great hope for individuals, families and communities.

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  • Focus on Your Denial Consider areas where you aren’t truthful or consistent with your Self. Do you have mixed messaging? Do your thoughts align with your words? Your words align to your actions? The masks of denial have confusing thoughts, voices and actions but within authentic Self, there is continuity of thoughts, words and actions.
  • Reclaim Denial: Speak from Personal Experience As we undress denial, we naturally want to share with others. Stop feeding into past dynamics and projecting your denial upon family: Speak from personal experience and let this be your golden rule.
  • Own Your Denial then Lead by Example Once we taste an inner freedom of authenticity, self-righteousness can also arise. It positions us as better than family members: You’ve seen your way out of the fog, why can’t someone else? Honor each person’s process. If you push too much, you’ll be a source of contention. Instead, speak and act by example. This is where thoughts, words and actions align.
  • Trust Denial Denial has purpose: The discomfort propels us, transforms us, to deepened understanding. Trust its purpose and even welcome space for denial within the family. No need to resist any longer! Instead, care about your family, sometimes from a distance, and trust the experience as a forge for the soul.
  • Bonus Score: Two People Free of Denial When two people or more communicate, free of denial, richness envelops the relationship. Communication flows and becomes nourishing. We gain compassion and understanding. The relationship now becomes magnetic rather than obligatory or transactional. Your authenticity is expressed through presence and through transmission. Allow this process to be and see what happens.

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Karuna offers online sessions for individuals, couples and families who wish to remove masks and personas and relate in more fulfilling ways. Book at info@hubfortheheart.com.

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