As the old saying goes, “you can choose your friends but you can’t choose your family.” Unfortunately, if you find yourself hating your family you probably wish that saying wasn’t true.
“You can choose your friends but you sho’ can’t choose your family, an’ they’re still kin to you no matter whether you acknowledge ’em or not, and it makes you look right silly when you don’t.” – Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird
But it is.
Hate is a strong word. It’s one thing to hate yourself and another to hate your family. It’s taken many years of unfortunate situations to get you to the point where you can honestly say that you hate your family. But what if things could be different? What if you were able to find ways to reconcile with family members that you have counted as lost forever?
While that may sound like a pipe dream to you right now, the reality is that most family relationships don’t have to be tossed to the wind.
In this article, we’ll take a look at several ideas you can try when you find yourself hating your family but wish things could be different.
1. Make a Real Effort to Talk
When’s the last time you had a constructive conversation with your family members? Do they have any idea what’s really going on in your daily life?
If you’ve reached the point in which you genuinely feel you hate your family, chances are they probably don’t know who you are as a person anymore.
If your family is judgmental of you based upon decisions you’ve made in the past, and they don’t know what factors went into those decisions, there could be a lot of miscommunication and pre-conceived notions causing the hatred and mutual contempt.
Right now, you probably feel like talking with family members you hate is the last thing you want to do. But if you approach conversations in a positive way, you might uncover the root of the problems you are facing.
Before entering the conversation, expect disagreements to occur. But don’t let your emotions take hold of you. Keep a level head and discuss things in a calm way.
Talking is a good first step to overcoming hatred.
2. Stand up for Yourself in a Smart Way
We all want to feel respected. If family members have disrespected you, you might find yourself hating them for it.
However, when two people approach a relationship demanding respect and are unwilling to respect the other person, conflict is inevitable.
While it’s true that you deserve respect, don’t make the mistake of demanding it to the point where you’re unwilling to compromise within the relationship. Respect needs to be earned over time. It’s normally not given freely.
When you feel disrespected, stand up for yourself in a non-confrontational way. Give concrete examples of why you made certain decisions that have negatively impacted your relationship. Swallow your pride and give them examples of times when you respected them for the decisions they made. Then apologize.
Eventually, they may start doing the same for you.
3. Apologize for Things You’ve Done Wrong in the Past
We’ve all made mistakes. Remember that relationships are always a two-way street. When relationships fail, it takes both parties to cause it.
Before talking with your family members, spend some honest time with yourself reflecting on the mistakes you’ve made in each relationship. The keyword here is “honest.” It’s often difficult for us to admit our own mistakes. But we need to in order to heal.
Write a list of the times when you screwed up or failed a family member, and what you could have done to avoid it. Take that list and apologize for those times in a genuine way.
“Never forget the nine most important words of any family – I love you. You are beautiful. Please forgive me.” – H. Jackson Brown Jr.
When you do this, don’t expect that they’re going to break down and start apologizing to you immediately. That notion will only lead to more fights. Do this as a selfless act, expecting nothing in return.
If and when the return comes on its own, you’ll know they’ve had time to think things through and that it’s genuine.
4. Don’t Expect an Instant Reconciliation
When trying to reconcile with family members you currently hate, never expect that things will instantly turn around for the better. When relationships have reached the point of hatred, genuine reconciliation is a long process.
The worst thing you can do is to go into this process expecting that your family member is going to shower apologies down on you and beg for your forgiveness. It just doesn’t work that way in real life.
Repairing broken family relationships is all about planting small seeds and letting them take root. When they do, you can plant more seeds and watch them grow. Eventually, you may end up with a full garden of reconciliation that was planted over the course of time.
5. If You Can’t Talk, Write a Letter
Perhaps you’ve reached a point in your family relationships, in which talking in person isn’t even an option. If that’s the case, don’t worry. Sit down and compose your thoughts about your relationships. Then work on writing letters that are intended to heal the mutual pain.
Don’t do this electronically or on social media, however. Take out a pen and paper, and write the letter by hand. This allows you to better explore your thoughts and feelings as you write. You’ll think longer and harder about each word and sentence that you use throughout the letter.
Do not point fingers or place blame. Write from your heart and say how you feel. Then mail the letter and don’t expect a reply. Again, this is all about planting those seeds of eventual reconciliation.
6. Know When to Give Up
No matter how hard you try, there may come a time when you need to give up. Maybe there’s just nothing left to do or say. The relationship is lost for now.
If you feel you’ve done everything in your power and nothing has improved, don’t be afraid to wave the white flag. Just remember that any hatred you feel only harms you. Giving up doesn’t mean you should hold on to that hate. Let it go and move on with your life.
Overcoming Family Hatred
If you’re struggling with hatred towards your family, try these six techniques and see if your relationships can be improved. Even if they can’t, at least you know you did everything in your power to do so.