How do you deal with unsupportive family members?

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In the ultimate human curiosity, the more and more you start doing well at something, the more and more people will try to cut you down.

Sometimes they don’t even realize they’re doing it. They’ll say things like, “Are you really sure that’s the right decision? What if something goes wrong? What if you don’t make enough money?” This is called being a concern troll.

It’s one thing if it’s your friend or co-worker. Just block them on FB, duh.

But what if it’s your brother? Your mom? Your dad? How are you supposed to handle family members that second-guess you…and make you feel bad about your choices?

I want to tap the wisdom of the IWT community to see how you’d deal with it.

(Btw, before I get to the question, I’m hiring a Marketing Manager for IWT. If you’re highly quantitative, have experience in direct marketing, and have managed teams of SEM/SEO/optimization, click here to learn more about this full-time position as a Marketing Manager).

Check out this questions I got from an IWT reader:

“I love [my family] and want them happy. They wallow in misery and blame me for it. I feel very tied to them although I should just let go. How do you let go of the living who have become a source of poison and sickness in your life when you are related to them and have known them your whole life?”
–[Name withheld]

I want to ask you TWO questions.

1. How has this happened to you? Specifically, if you’ve ever had a family member be unsupportive, what exactly did they say? (Did they come right out and say, “That’s a bad decision!” Or were they more subtle about it?)

2. How would you recommend this person deal with their unsupportive family? What exactly should they do?

(Btw, don’t just say “Cut them out of your life!” These are family members that they love and can’t turn their back on.)

Share your answer in the comments below.

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  1. […] How do you deal with unsupportive family members? is a post from: I Will Teach You To Be Rich. […]

    • Geez, I wish I can say we all went to therapy together! I’m currently 4 hours away. I’ve run the gamut, I’ve played into the role I was placed in, the screw ball roll, and acted that out, I’ve held it in, as it seemed there’s nothing else I can do, I’ve gotten angry and lashed out. All in all my move away has been my best idea yet, and I’m not supposed to say this! I’ve been healing, I’ve watched myself deal with setbacks and challenges, and remarkably i haven’t done one self destructive thing so far. I brought everyone great comfort, by being present to be called crazy, bad, helpless, wrong worthy of being left out. My love away is something hey called crazy, except I’m free now from hearing about it any more now. Healing has begun. Progress happening.

  2. I know you said “don’t just say ‘Cut them out of your life!’ These are family members that they love and can’t turn their back on” but that’s exactly what I did. Family or not, if they are dragging you down – cut them loose.

    • I agree with you Jonathon. I had family that was tearing me down and preventing me from achieving the goals I wanted, enough was enough. My success was paramount to my well-being, and ultimately my health.

    • Hi I totally agree..

      I have a sister who is always
      been judgmental on the things
      that I do,
      eg , you need to get your music
      properly produced if you want to
      make it in the industry..
      Ohhhh if want to go live in Malta
      remember your gonna take whatever it is with you time and
      time again this was said..
      When I said your judging me, I don’t get in the habit of doing that to you she
      flew of the handle and started
      dredging up the past and got very defensive and a accused me
      of unloading my problems on her..

      She got borderline nasty, I stopped it right there and said please do not contact me anymore and
      she began getting nasty and was
      saying who are you, she said looks like your in pain body some
      new age psych shit she was trying to unload on me..
      Sometimes you have to just cut your losses with people even though they are family because they can
      hold you back severely..

    • That’s how I feel, and have felt for some time. They say they love you, but then are judgmental when you need to vent. Screw it.

  3. Oh, Ramit…

    You have no idea how badly this hits home on a lot of fronts. Coming from a very traditional (i.e. non-entrepreneurial family), and having moved back from Europe last year, I seriously wish I had an American dollar every time I’d heard or had this conversation with people. (That’s where my extra $1000 a month would come from.)

    I get this all the time from my parents. I moved my teaching business online before leaving Europe last year, and my parents (God love ’em) have been supportive…EXCEPT….except for hounding me about invoices that have not been paid (like I don’t know?) …EXCEPT….pointing out that I don’t have enough money to get a car (leaving aside that I’m set to clear $27,000 in my first year of business back in Canada), EXCEPT pointing out that, if I had a “normal” job, I might be making closer to $35,000 and have some level of job security (leaving aside the expenses involved in working away from home.)

    I don’t think people do that to be malicious. I really, honestly believe it comes from a vastly skewed perception of risk, and what looks like an insane idea to one person is totally rational and straightforward to someone else. Not everyone has the same stomach for risk that entrepreneurs have, either because of generational gaps or cultural ones (WIRED UK ran a brilliant article a couple of years ago about the difference in perceptions of risk between Americans and Europeans.)

    I think the most straightforward way of dealing with this (notice I didn’t say “easiest”!!!) is to talk with those people and ask them, flat out, where their concern comes from and to re-assure them it’s not as big an issue as they’re making it out to be: “You’ve mentioned a couple of times that you’re concerned about cash flow. I appreciate your concern, but don’t forget that the business is diverse enough that cash comes from more than one area of this business.” Everyone has different fear triggers, and a lot of times, they don’t realize how much their fear triggers tend to dominate conversation.

    That said, a little aural filtering never hurts, either. I don’t want to say that the person should be ignored (nobody paid attention to Pandora, either, about that box) but just remember that it’s one voice among many. People are entitled to their opinions, and constructive feedback is welcome — but there’s a difference between constructive feedback and noise. Not everything has to be taken seriously if it’s freely offered. If someone gives me an eyeball-bustingly ugly sweater, I’ll thank them for the gesture, but I’m not going to wear it. The same could go for advice, especially advice that comes from a place of fear or a lack of information.

    Thanks again for opening up the debate. I think you’ll get a lot of good debate on this one.

    — Dawn

    • I agree about the “vastly skewed perception of risk.” For some people feeling secure is absolutely essential. For myself, what I want to accomplish is more important than feeling secure. For the people in my life who feel the need for security, my higher risk-taking level makes them nervous. They worry that something will happen to me, that I will get hurt or become homeless. As someone else mentioned in their comment, it is sometimes better to keep certain things to yourself.

      Also, if you have friends who are like family it is just as difficult to deal with these issues. Sometimes I have felt frustrated with my best friend’s lack of support and negativity, but thinking about ending 34 years of friendship is extremely difficult. I having learned to keep some things to myself.

    • Great comment. I wonder how a stock reply would work, something light like, “Hey, I’m still young! I can handle some risk. Worse come to worst, I’ll sign up for a ‘normal’ job before I’m 35.”

  4. For some people, there are tactics they can use with their parents or family members to change the subject. “Oh, you may be right. What’s up with Sports Team?” is a good starting point. If family members still want to dwell in the Misery Bucket, the individual could state directly that they don’t want to talk about money with them, but they’d love to talk about family/hometown/whatever.

    Your request that we not say “Cut them off!” is loaded with assumptions about our families, that they are good people at heart, and raised us to succeed and thrive in the world. Not all of us are lucky enough to have those kinds of families, and assumptions like those are a reflection of society’s expectations. Those of us with substandard families are pushed to reconcile, to keep the peace, to buckle under ridiculous expectations. I personally stopped talking to my family almost a year ago, and it’s been one of the best years of my life.

    I understand that’s not the point of this blog. I still wanted to point it out.

    • That is true sometimes we have to cut them off and see them ocassionally. They mind is the most powerful and precious thing in the body in my opinion. Being that stress can lead to anything a peace of mind is important. I am thankful for this article because, I see I am not the only one who has to be bold and couragous. I have spent a lot of years trying to please my mom. At the drop of the dime whe threatens to put me out and she has before. I knwo she needs my help financially. But I am starting to feel like I have to make some changes where i can provide my own shelter rather my grandmother thinks I should just forgive and toughen up. I can do this but it is stressful. I want my peace of mind back I have to make some changes.

  5. A mentor shared this with me:

    *Give-up goals, tell everyone.

    *Move-up goals, tell only your team or a select few that fully support you.

    For example, want to quit smoking? Tell everyone. The next time they see you smoke they’ll be like…

    Want to pitch potential investors for 1m financing for your trading fund? Tell someone who has either done it before and succeeded or someone who knows that once you put your mind to something, you can’t be stopped.

    • What a pearl of wisdom. Thank you.

    • I love it!!!

    • Rivka Link to this comment Great comment. I wonder how a stock reply would work, something light like, “Hey, I’m still young! I can handle some risk. Worse come to worst, I’ll sign up for a ‘normal’ job before I’m 35.”
      This helped me too

  6. My parents are openly supportive but secretly unsupportive.

    My mother loves bragging about me to her friends and co-workers (I’m 20 and running a sweet little part-time business that pays for my university degree) but when the time comes for me to ask her questions about business, or go to the next step… she always stops me and tells me that I’m fine where I am, why grow when I’m good here, etc. It’s definitely disheartening! I know she’s proud of me, but her fear keeps me back a lot.

    For me, I’ve started being more firm about my business and stopped telling my mother, lol. Although she’s an accountant with a huge company and has a business degree, I’ve made steps towards finding other mentors who can push me to bigger goals. I still share with her, love on her, and we talk about lots of things… just not what my near-future goals are. If I get to my goal, I tell her and she’s happy. If I don’t get there, she never has to know.

  7. I get a combination of both subtle and direct criticism daily from my husband to my mother–from leaving the light on, to taking too long to write my dissertation, to how much I spent on a new pair of underwear, to why I am or am not taking or quitting this or that job/responsibility. I’ve determined nothing I say or do will change their attitudes–unless I die of course and they feel guilty. Their attitudes are products of their own issues, not mine.

  8. To all the folks who did just “cut” family out of there lives- wow. That’s pretty harsh!! I had this happen to me and rather than cut important people out of my life, I did a few things. First, I looked at the person and their experience and found that often times, they just didn’t know better. That their behavior matched that of their parents, etc.. So I used that as leverage “Remember when Joe didn’t support you? Well it seems you are doing the same here- am I missing something”?. That helped people see their behavior, understand it and change it. And for those who didn’t change- that was OK. Because I knew that I could change my reaction to them. Instead of getting angry, hurt and upset- I stopped talking about those things with them. If they asked, I decided not to talk about it. When they asked why- I told them that I felt like they weren’t supporting my endeavor and gave examples- of course with the caveat that “it could just be me”. This kind of approach was non-offensive and gave ME control over the situation. When someone said something I didn’t want to hear- I changed my reaction- I didn’t try to change them. I did not put myself in stressful situations and not only did several people change their attitude towards me, those who didn’t- simply stopped commenting. Worked like a charm- no one was hurt or upset and no arguments. Been doing this for 6 years now and believe me- it works.

    • This is what I have done. Simple solution, which you have put very clearly.
      I have found asking questions as you have done, is better than answering them. By asking questions the party has to think for themselves what they are saying. It is one of the best ways to get through.

    • Sometimes in order to maintain your health and live a positive life, you must cut-out family members. Being family is not an excuse to accept ill treatment. As harsh as it may seem, sometimes it is essential

  9. My buddy Adam recently wrote about this issue. Here’s a bit of what he would say:
    Understanding why people sabotage us will make it a lot easier to deal with.

    With consistency comes results. Sadly, this is also when the saboteurs try to work their toxic magic.It can be very frustrating, even hurtful, when our coworkers, friends and even family members might try to sabotage our efforts.

    First, we have to understand human behavior – at its WORST.

    A study quoted in the book The Paradox of Choice gave participants hypothetical choices concerning status and asked for their preferences. For example, people were asked to choose between a) earning $50,000 a year with others earning $25,000 or b) earning twice as much, $100,000 a year but being surrounded by people earning $200,000.

    Which would you choose?

    Sadly (at least to me), more than half the respondents chose the option that gave them the better relative position. That means earning $50,000 to $100,000 because at $50,000 they were earning more than others, while at $100,000 they were earning less than others.

    (I think this is crazy! BUT, it doesn’t matter what I think. For many, this is how they feel. For some humans, this IS their nature.)

    Although we’re hard wired to compare, it’s who we compare ourselves to that can make or break our happiness. Ideally, we wouldn’t compare ourselves to anyone. Really! Besides, your status compared to other people isn’t how YOU’RE doing.

    Because we now know that many would prefer the better relative position, it’s easy to see why people would sabotage our efforts.

    Let’s go even deeper…

    Are you familiar with the term cognitive dissonance? This happens when we have two conflicting desires. It is well known that smoking cigarettes can cause lung cancer yet every person I’ve ever met wants to live a long, healthy and fit life.

    The uncomfortable tension caused by these two opposing ideas — wanting to smoke but also wanting to be healthy and fit — is known as dissonance. As humans, we look to get rid of this uncomfortable feeling. (This is known as dissonance reduction.)

    The only way to get rid of this uncomfortable feeling is by a) quitting smoking b) denying that people actually get sick from smoking or c) justifying and rationalizing.

    For example, a smoker could rationalize their behavior by believing that few people get sick from smoking, it only happens to people who smoke more than they do, if smoking doesn’t kill them something else will, they’ll quit next year, it’s too expensive to quit, or they only live once and they deserve to smoke.

    In essence, they either need to take action (quit smoking and get whatever help they need “Ugh, ‘so and so’ looks so good! I wish I could have the “discipline” it takes to look that good too!” They need to get rid of this uncomfortable feeling somehow though…

    Sadly, these people know deep down they’re not going to take any action THEMSELVES, and nothing is going to change on their end. So, if they can’t change their own body (most people don’t really want to change — they rather TALK about changing), they’ll try to bring down the people around them who are.

    This is how they get rid of the dissonance or uncomfortable feeling they’re experiencing. Again, as sad as it is – it’s human nature. Fighting human nature is silly.

    When we understand what’s going on around us, it makes it a lot easier to call it what it is and move on.

    WHAT IF: every time someone was trying to sabotage us, we flipped it, and said to ourselves, “Bring it! I must be looking good! Damn. This consistency stuff is working!” while smiling to ourselves?

    Sure it can be hurtful that our coworkers and friends are sabotaging us — even our loved ones! But, if we understand human behavior, and accept it, rather than fight it, we can at least understand why they’re doing it.

    And maybe, just maybe, look at it in a completely different way.

  10. The answer may seem simple but love yourself and be confident in your decisions. A person or even family member can bring you to a point of poison ONLY if you feel that that poison is in you too.

    Example – if you do not think you are fat and someone calls you fat – you don’t care.

    We look to family for approval and wish that they could support us in everything we do. But it isn’t that simple, generation gaps, different cultures, depending on where/when you grew up, all factor into a person’s or your family’s thought process.

    If you are truly doing what you want with your life (now here is the big question) – YOU ARE BEING TRUE TO YOURSELF, there is a huge chance that you will shine. Family will see that glow and either go to another member that they can influence/bring to their level or they may actually stop judging you. Because they can’t when you are smiling and happy.

    You must ask yourself why you feel the need for their approval as a grown adult that has achieved X, X and X? Yes, it hurts and sucks when they jab you. The main question is what do you do when you do not get the approval you seek from your family?

    Stop seeking it.

    If you are not seeing eye to eye with your family you may not want their approval because the person that you want to become doesn’t fit into their “approval” bucket. So leave it be.

    You cannot please everyone and you don’t have to, please realize that most people in that state of poison do not want to be pleased.

    Focus on yourself. Nothing can shake you if you are confident.

    I adopted my son as a single mom. Logical for me because I come from a poor country but as an Indian women it was a tsunami of a decision. Three years later, seeing my little family and how I glow, everyone has changed their views on me and my little guy.

  11. I’ve found that as I’ve become clearer on my goals, as my own self-doubt has lessened, so has the criticism from my family. The more they see that you’re not going to change, the more likely they are to support you or leave you alone. My father still occasionally bugs me about returning to university, but I realize that its because he never went himself and has missed out on several promotions because of it. Understanding why family members are saying the things they do (usually they are projecting their own fears onto you) makes a huge difference in the ay it affects you, and in the way you deal with it.
    2. I am a very frank and straightforward person, so I would recommend this person sit their family down and explain that they feel unsupported and physically sick from the thingsthey say. Explain that the path I have chosen is not going to change, and that because I know everything they say comes from a place of love, ii would appreciate it if they show their love for me by minimizing tthe criticisms and focusing on the positive. If they are open to it, maybe even show them some law of attraction stuff, ”I want you to be happy, bbutyou can’t be happy if you complain all the time. Can we all try and see the positive in things more often?”
    Interesting discussion Ramit, thanks!

  12. I recently decided to open up a business within the next 2 months and I am deciding if I should do a straight online and in-person marketing strategy or a brick and mortar ( about 15 times more expensive). Without hearing the details, my brother said that it was going to be expensive. His way of saying “I don’t know if you should… ”

    I come from a business background and thought the risk were high, but not that high. The risk is extremely high because most people cannot put the amount of work, persistent, and dedication towards the daily grind that comes along with the nightmares that keeps you up at night, to running a business. The sole purpose of education is to instill in you a conviction to do the things you KNOW you must do.

    If you do not need your family’s support (financially) or if you have some time before you become a little dependent on their support then just simply start without them knowing. See what happens. The worst case is that it fails and you learned (usually) lessons worth a hell of a lot more than the time and money you put in.

    If you don’t have time, then start with common grounds; your well being. Your ability to support yourself. Pick up a part time job and move out. Do something, ANYTHING, to remove yourself from an environment that isn’t supportive. If absolutely no one in your life is supportive then find a group of entrepreneurs who are! There’s always a group in almost every city. They’ll be the support you need to raise your standard. Those are the people who understands the nightmares that keeps you awake at night because the daily grind is tougher than almost any other jobs out there.

  13. 1. Years ago, I stopped being in an industry where I made good money but I really didn’t not enjoy it, how about the word “hate” to describe it. My father said why don’t you go back and I said if I did I would feel like I want to die. Really. Fast forward -years- I grew up. If you would offer me a position in the first industry, I would actually consider it. I can call it what it is and navigate. There are things I own and there are some things I don’t own… which leads me to #2
    2. The person who is not getting support; part of it is our perception. Change it. But acknowledge that dysfunction is there at the family environment. But as you know Ramit, s/he has do do their part. S/he ought to get her own support system. S/he can’t control what family members say or do. But s/he can address each issue when it arises. Part of this is growing up… we all have to do. It’s good that s/he loves her/his family. No one is perfect and neither is s/he.

  14. My wife and I have both been very creative people our entire lives – me a fiction writer specializing in sci-fi, fantasy, and domination erotica and her a physical artist working primarily in artisan-style media (chainmaille, jewelry, leather working, some paper crafts) – and we’ve both experienced significant amounts of resistance, often masked as concern, from our families both long before and now after getting together.

    Her issues have always come from her mother and stem from being the most socially capable and hard-working daughter of a family of truly awkward and lazy women, essentially the only useful person born into a group of very, very useless ones.

    Since she was old enough to work she has always been pushed into the most available, usually least lucrative, job available by her mother because her family “needs help.”

    That was always the phrase, even to this day. Somehow, her mother blows every cent of a $35k a year income even though she barely pays rent to a friend whose basement she lives in alone, and at least every 3 months comes looking for “help.” Even when we briefly lived with her in a townhouse and paid the rent, cable, utilities, and bought most of the food in the house, she’d need “help” at least weekly. She once sat me down with a piece of paper she’d drawn up of the things she still paid for and explained how much of an atrocity it was that she had two other adults living with her and she still had to pay for any of her expenses.

    The general assumption has always been that most of this “help” ends up distributed amongst a network of unworking sisters and cousins that my wife’s mother keeps in close contact with.

    So, every time my wife attempted to branch out or study for a new career or interview for a new job or just try to sell some art in her spare time, she was “being selfish” because the family “needed help.”

    My own experiences generally came from the fact that most of the members of my family live very lower class until they reach middle-class and upper-middle-class income levels of income in their 50’s.

    For whatever reason, the lesson they drew from this trend isn’t that if you work hard and diligently you’ll reach success, but rather that the only factor in success is time rather than effectiveness.

    We had a saying that you had to “pay your dues” before you could be successful, meaning basically that anyone who did something well and succeeded because of it before their 50’s had simply gotten lucky and hadn’t really earned it and no matter how poorly you did something you would eventually be successful if you just drudged long enough.

    So, every time I would tell anyone I was writing something or trying for a new job or even when I got out of college and got a fairly well-paying job, I was told I had to “pay my dues” and trying for or even getting some level of success wasn’t warranted or earned because I was too young.

    Even now that I’ve been laid off and had to start over from retail (for a variety of reasons I won’t get into) and actually worked my way into a fairly good position for this level in the company, since I’m only 29 I’m still told that I shouldn’t expect it to last or that I might not have entirely earned it because I haven’t “paid my dues.”

    I guess that’s the downside of being born into a region that’s big on unions (Minnesota).

    Even when she finally accepted that maybe I had earned being a good retail worker at 29, when my mother found out how little I get paid (just under $10 an hour, pretty good for a retail position in my region) her immediate reaction, despite knowing that I really like the business I work for and the people I work with, was “oh, that’s no good. You should start looking again right away. I saw Aldi was hiring.”

    On my writing, the resistance has been equal.

    Always growing up the plan was that I would go to Saint Paul Technical College, learn computer programming, and get a $100k+ a year job in that industry, and use a significant portion of that to get a wife, have a family, and build a mother-in-law cottage next to the house for my mother to live in. This was because, except for the cottage part which she actually read about in a magazine, that was exactly what my mother had wanted to do until her father told her that “computers are just a fad” and “women aren’t smart enough for college” back in the late 70’s. She did eventually become a fairly good software support technician through years of hard work.

    So, anytime I deviated from the plan even the slightest bit – such as even mentioning the idea I might want to write for a living – she would tell me “writing’s a good profession, but not until you make it big as a writer. You need a good dayjob first.”

    For years, that phrase followed me around, squawking from her like a memorized phrase in a parrot: “You need a dayjob first.”

    Due to a variety of circumstances, my family heavily worships the concept of corporations and looks to them exclusively for their income, always one job at a time.

    When I finally started writing erotica and actually making a little money off of it – the first personal project that I made any income off of – I got equal resistance.

    My mother told me it was “demeaning to women,” not taking into account what I was writing centered on women dominating men, and my step-father – overall an amazing man who taught me an immense amount about home improvement and maintenance and whom I, oddly, have always resembled as if I were actually his son despite not meeting him until I was 24 (is there such a thing as a reverse Oedipus syndrome in which a woman hooks up with a man who’s a lot like her son?) – likened writing erotic novellas to rounding up all the local women and pimping them out.

    Though, over time they simply learned to drop the subject, especially after I started getting checks from the advertisers on my pen name’s blog. I guess you can’t really argue with money, can you?

    As for solutions, my wife and I both took the same method through our youths.

    Until we met (or re-met actually, we’ve known eachother since middle school but only started dating about two years ago and got married this year) and started looking to eachother for support and to bounce ideas off of, we toiled in secret, rarely letting our families know we were actually doing the thing they didn’t want us to.

    In addition, we both took to hiding our finances from our families and pretending to be less off than we are, a tactic we still use to keep their grubby hands off of what we’ve earned.

    As we’ve gotten older, we’ve been able to start going to places consistent with our interests (primarily gaming stores with open gaming nights) and have met several interesting writers and artists who think a lot like us and we’ve been able to build a small support community for ourselves of like-minded people.

    And when it comes to continuing to deal with family members who you might still be tied to in some way or another, my ultimate advice is simply to limit exposure and learn to protect your secrets.

    Family doesn’t need to know everything about you. In fact, it can be very detrimental to let them know much more than the basics and the things you know they’ll approve of.

    My wife and I have even gone as far as to essentially create characters that we “play” when we’re around our families to make interactions easier and minimize chances of either having a project dismissed or having someone try to glum onto the results of our hard work.

    Also, we try to never see a member of our family more than once every few weeks and screen all of our calls so we can decide if we want to talk to someone.

  15. If they are raising questions to make cut you down, instead of arguing with them you can ask for their advice of what would be the first thing they do in they were in your position. This will lead to:

    – Turn they negative questions to a constructive comments or suggestion
    – They will be conscious that if they raise up a question, they have to provide a possible solution, not just the problems, because you will ask for them.

  16. I used very clear lines with my Dad. He tended to not realize he was discouraging me from a dream he once had too. When he would say things like “you haven’t thought of this x-angle” or “how are you possibly going to handle y or z” I would tell him “If he didn’t want to help me or encourage me than we shouldn’t talk about my work”. I also maintained being kind and level-headed in my responses.
    Currently, after a year of having that line drawn he has join the support train. It was hard to build a wall, but I knew if I kept it small he would some day climb it. But I also knew my relationship. For us it was possible have a subject that we didn’t talk about, for other that might not always be true.

  17. 1. After reading this blog, I realize that I am blessed to have a very supportive family … (Maybe even overly supportive! Perhaps that could be a blog for later, Ramit).

    2. I feel the best path for this person would be to just ask his/her family point-blank about WHY they blame him/her, and WHY they choose to wallow in misery.

    Get to the root of it. Why are they blaming? Why blame at all? What does this behavior mean, and if the family has to keep doing it, how can this person see their situation and choices clearly, despite the family?

    Seeing a situation clearly despite a family opinion means involving friends, advisors, or even random people. Don’t cut ties with the family, just get some perspectives from those outside of the family.

    It’s good to keep in mind that our families can be hard on us because they love us, but sometimes, being a hardass, or being engulfed with fear can get in the way of love. It’s better to just love first, or create love if it is being swallowed up by fear, anxiety or depression.

  18. This advice I found from an old Pam Slim blog post. I have used it and it works, up to a point.
    When a family member criticizes you for your life choices, agree. Roll over and show your belly. Tell them, yes, your are absolutely correct, I could loose my job, have no money and wind up living in a van down by the river. Yes, thanks for warning me.
    Stop talking there, and keep your resolve to live your own life.

    Always listen and ask yourself privately if there is value in their advice. Respect your elders, but you don’t have let them lead you through life.

    Sometimes you do have to cut people out of your life. If they are actively trying to be destructive to you and those closest to you, cut the ties and go on with your life.

  19. I’ve never had family members be overly concerned about the main decisions of my life, but I certainly have had friends who have gone through this. It seems like most of them come to a place where their only option is to set very clear and healthy boundaries, and do their best to lead by example, and prove their family members wrong. I think there’s a middle way between cutting family out completely and letting their opinions ruin your life. I think it’s also important to consider that, on a deeper level, you’re the one creating them showing up in your reality not supporting your decisions. If you can look at this from this perspective, you’ll realize that they are likely reflecting back to you a hidden belief you have about yourself. Sometimes, shifting out of our own limiting beliefs is the key to healing these kinds of painful dynamics with family.

  20. 1) When I told my parents I was going to do Effectiveness Coaching on the side, my mom told me “That’s so stupid! Starting a business is dangerous! When you go broke, don’t come to me for help!” Honestly, my family is very morally supportive (i.e. “we believe you’re awesome just the way you are!”), but when it comes to something “risky” like starting a business, their invisible scripts start to show (i.e. “That’s so stupid! You’re going to go broke!” even though it’s a consulting business where I put down no capital).

    2) How I recommend dealing with an unsupportive family (or a family who’s fearing for you) can be summarized into two points:
    – Get a support group.
    – Understand your family members’ points of view (not necessarily agree).

    The first point doesn’t have to do directly with the question, but I find it’s INCREDIBLY important to have some sort of support group.

    You’re human, and those movies where you see the hero go against everyone’s expectations of failure and emerge successful are dangerously fallible. If you’re surrounded by people who don’t support your desire to improve or try new things, you’ll eventually lose steam & motivation and stop trying… we’re social animals, we need some support and encouragement from our peers along the way. And with a solid support group/person/friend/whatever, you’ll at least have a strong core of confidence that’s not dependent on your family.

    The second point involves truly understanding the family member who’s “tearing you down”. Very rarely do people who care about you truly want to see you fail or tell you you suck – they’re giving you advice because they truly think it’s best for you.

    For instance, my mom may think I’ll go broke from being a part-time consultant, but when I apply higher level understanding to her perspective, I can see that:
    – She knows that money in my pocket will be there to stay, and she wants to make sure I, as her son, am not going to be broke and in the streets from poor spending decisions.
    – She wants me to be smart with my money and not spend it on stuff that I’m not absolutely sure is worth the money (i.e. a bad info product).
    – She wants to enforce that I’m great just the way I am, and that I’m not confusing “self-development” for “buying this product will fix me”.
    – She wants to ensure that I’m not trying to find a magic bullet and, therefore, get scammed like she sees happening on TV every day (which is why she was uncertain of the IWT book on my shelf =P)

    This is kind of like using Ramit’s example of the Straightjacket Technique, but to understand your family instead of a client. After some practice, you can reflect on their perspective in real time. Then talk to that perspective: “Honestly, thanks Mom, I really appreciate that you’re on my side and wanting me to make wise decisions. I’m personally taking baby steps so that, if I do fail, it’ll be a quick $10 learning experience than a calamity.”

    She may still have some objections, but you at least covered the overall theme: Thanking her for caring.

    You don’t have to agree with their “why behind their statement” – I understand she wants me to be smart with money but I personally dedicate 20% of my earnings towards self-development since I’ve SEEN the results. But at least by understanding the why behind it, it makes the conversations less about you and more about them wanting to see you achieve your best, which is a much more healthy perspective to take.

    – Frank M

    • Great reply. A support group is something I hadn’t really thought about. I have been trying to fight my battle by myself. Thank you once again for the good read!

  21. 1. Yes, this has happened to me. A lot of the people I’m close to don’t really get the whole “making money online” thing. They usually take the subtle approach, expressing doubts such as “How can you make money from that?” or “What if people don’t like what you write?”

    2. As far as how this person should deal with their unsupportive family, it sounds like a boundary issue to me. “Letting go” IS the answer, but that doesn’t necessarily mean “cutting them out of your life.” The question is WHAT to let go of. In this case, this person needs to do some inner work in order to stop allowing the family to emotionally manipulate them. That can absolutely be done while still maintaining a relationship.

    The reader said, “They wallow in misery and blame me for it.” The answer to this is: when they start talking about their “misery,” you CALMLY say, “I’m sorry to hear that. How can I help?” and MEAN it. You don’t lose your cool, and you don’t get angry even if they do. If they blame you for their problems, you calmly decline to accept that blame, and you don’t get defensive. You can say something like, “I’m sorry this isn’t going well for you. I hope you get it worked out. If there’s something I can do, let me know.” You can even train them not to become angry and heated in such conversations by declining to get sucked into that way of interacting. I’ve found that saying calmly, “Sounds like you’re upset. Why don’t we continue this conversation later when you’ve calmed down”, and repeating as necessary until they either calm down or end the interaction, usually does the trick.

    The bottom line is that somebody cannot treat you poorly without your allowing it. You can still care for someone without feeding their dysfunctional behaviors.

    I actually wrote an article on my website a couple of weeks ago on this very topic. It’s called “How Do You Know if It’s a Dealbreaker?”

  22. I think Jen Dziura covered it really well (here: when she said that sometimes earning more money actually gives you the freedom to make better decisions about your familial obligations. Then you can help out and keep the connection in ways that aren’t using up all of your time and opportunities.

  23. I actually find it motivating! My Dad is very entrepreneurial and supportive but my Mum is much more cautious and pessimistic. I like having both sides of the coin to bounce things off and I find my Mum’s conservatism actually encourages me to try harder and prove her wrong!

  24. I have found in western society that the idea of making money is not very popular. There seems to be more appreciation here in Australia for someone to sit around and collect money from the government than to go out and make a living.
    Entrepreneurs are about taking an idea and making money from it. If you were to talk about teaching or a learning pursuit that would be fine But to talk about money is not okay. We do not even get taught how to budget properly at school. That is really showing a lack in this society where we are expected to make money for 45 years or so of our lives and not discuss how to improve our lives with income. Other countries where I have lived which are not 1 world respect the idea of taking a skill, product or asset and developing it, to that you and those around you can benefit.
    Mostly people who have always had money from some source or other do not realize that the money they received came from someone else’s effort in trade of some sort. After paying bills, taxes and wages, the entrepreneur is the last to be paid.

  25. 1. How has this happened to you? Specifically, if you’ve ever had a family member be unsupportive, what exactly did they say? (Did they come right out and say, “That’s a bad decision!” Or were they more subtle about it?)

    My parents highly value education. I took a nursing degree in the first place because of them. I wanted to do architecture initially but my father wanted me to take up a proven high-earning degree. He’d say ‘Oh but it’s up to you. What I’m saying is that nursing guarantees income. After you do nursing and earn money, then you can do whatever you want. Look at your aunt! She’s a successful nurse! Oh but it’s up to you. I’m just saying.’ It made me extremely miserable and I dropped out after a year. I transferred to an arts school and took up graphics design and multimedia. But in those years I have not truly enjoyed myself. I did not understand if I really liked this specific type of design course. I mostly took it up because my parents don’t want me out of school. I earned high grades when I started. Even making the dean’s list consecutively. But then it took a toll on me that I didn’t appreciate what I was doing. And after 3 years I stopped school again. I got frustrated with myself about not being able to deliver and questioning how did I get to hate something that I used to love? It’s really hard when you don’t get support from your parents or you do get support but it’s confusing. And I try my best to please them but that never works out. Because putting other people’s happiness before your own will only make you miserable.

    2. How would you recommend this person deal with their unsupportive family? What exactly should they do?

    I have ‘developed’ my own technique on dealing with my opinionated family members. When your loved ones give you advice, listen to them. If in YOUR JUDGEMENT they are talking crap, let the advice pass from one ear to the other. And just go ahead and do whatever it is you want. If they are making sense then you pick up their advise and apply it in your life. Keep the positive, drown the negative. You don’t need to listen to them because most of the time they don’t know what they’re talking about. Or what they’re talking about does not apply to you because you have different interests. And that is OK. We’re all human. Just know what you want to achieve and work your way to get there. It’s your choice and you shouldn’t let other people put you down. And because it’s your choice, no one can really do anything about it. So learn to always have your back when you’re making decisions. Whether it works or not, self-reliance is an amazing tool that boosts you to do better and more worthwhile things.

  26. I did cut them loose, all of them. 10 years or so later they started being really supportive. Too late folks!

    If cutting them lose is not an option I’d advice doing your own and dont waste time negotiating. Kind of cutting them loose insitu.

    Before I was able to cut them loose I spent what… 15 years trying to move along with them. If there was a way Im pretty sure I would have found it. Just do your thing instead. See if they come and welcome them if so, but dont sweat it, its your life and your rewards and none of their business.

  27. On the one hand, I had a mother who was a narcissistic alcoholic. It was all about her and I kept looking for a “mom” until I grew up enough to realize that wasn’t going to happen. Then, I stopped talking to her. Now, my dad is another story. He is risk-averse himself and wants only the very best for his little girls. If he had his way, I would have lived with him until he died. So, support only came for “appropriate” ventures (marriage, steady job). I kept him in my life, but didn’t expect support. Once I stopped expecting it – and stopped talking about certain things – we got along better. I’m not proud of it, but on a few occasions, I stretched the truth a bit. “Things are going great! You wouldn’t believe what’s going on.” After a while, I think he realized that he couldn’t change my mind and didn’t want to know all the hairy details.

  28. For a number of years I kept my online earning a secret from my family because I knew that they would look down their noses at me and accuse me of doing nothing more than playing games all day and that I should go out and get a real job.

    When I did finally tell them they reacted in EXACTLY the way that I thought they would.

    It is some SIX years later and they still treat me as a layabout who can’t be bothered to get a job and spends all day playing games online, I have shown them what I do plenty of times, but they just dismiss it.

    I have come to the conclusion that it is pure jealously, jealously that they put in twice as much hours at work as I do and I still make double the money they do.

  29. The short of it: I don’t bring it up, and they have an opportunity to send negative vibes.

    I have a co-worker that has a laser focus on failure and things that go wrong. Sometimes, I find it very difficult to talk with him about my ideas because there is so much negativity dragging things down.

    What I have started doing to deal with this is simply recognize that he is not a good resource during the brainstorming phase of an idea of project. Instead of going to him with ideas, I go to other people with ideas and don’t loop him in unless I have a need for specific feedback that only he can provide.

    This is someone that I see almost every day, so it’s difficult to have something on my mind that I don’t say out loud. Often, I find myself sabotaging myself by blurting out something that I’m thinking, but I almost immediately realize that it’s a mistake. Over time, I have gotten better and better at controlling myself.

    I didn’t always thing that this was true, but I now believe that, it *is* possible to have someone omnipresent in your life, but still keep them fairly walled off on certain issues.

    Basically, if I don’t want negativity, I just don’t bring it up :)

  30. Family is great and I am lucky to have a great family. But when it comes to Job, life dreams and business. Family can have different perspectives and opinions and it’s really hard when I want to have approval from my Dad. I’ve realized that he will never understand or “approve” or see it through my eyes. He will always be my dad and want to help me by pointing out things that he thinks I need to know about. I realize when I talk to him, all I want him is to listen and “approve”. There are so many details and none of it all matters because you have to do it or you don’t do it. It’s not gonna matter over some minor details or major details when it comes down to the moment of truth. My dreams and goals are really mine to chase and nobody else can see though my “eyes”.

    Even if my Dad agreed with my plan, it still mine to run out and execute. It’s better to have somebody else that is not personally close to me to be a mentor in my business and life dreams or job. Family it always can be taken the wrong way when the parent is “trying” to help the child. When you’re young and learning that’s when it’s time for the parent to be a parent. When I’ve reached a point where I can made decisions then it’s time for me to take the stick and wheel. The drive is a beautiful one.

  31. I told my parents I only wanted their blessings. Not their unsollicited advice, nor their (usually unconstructive) criticism.
    So now I send them my best wishes, I pray for them daily, but I almost completely broken up with them because I can’t take their negativity. I know they are good people, but they are trapped in their own negativity. They harms themselves as well as people around them, just like a smoker would do;

  32. Very non-specific question and example but speaking from experience:

    Communicate clearly in a variety of ways what your position is and how their behavior makes you feel.
    Make a direct request for them to stop specific behavior.
    If they don’t stop, get counseling together so an independant 3rd party can mediate and help each party understand the other.
    If they still don’t support you and you still feel “poison” from them, the choice is to keep them in your life out of duty and the love you feel for them despite the pain they cause. Or to let them go.
    An excruciating choice.

    Suggesting that you shouldn’t cut them out because they are family isn’t good advice for a subset of “unsupportive relationships”. Emotional (and physical) abuse fall into this broad category and ultimately many people need to find a happier future without their family (and perhaps start a new one based around similar values).

  33. My mom is very insecure about so many things. Any success I have, I want her to be proud of me, happy for me, but instead it is threatening to her. She once actually said “you can’t be better than me.”

    My feelings about this vary. When I’m strong, I am sorry for the things that hurt her so deeply and that are the source of her insecurity. Then I’m kind and even protective of her. When I’m not as strong, when it makes me angry, I shift my focus. I remind myself that her behaviour is hers. My behavior, my world is where I put my focus. When she (or anyone else is) is cruel, I remind myself that success (taking care of myself, getting what I need) is the best revenge.

    • I try to remind my parents that my success is a reflection of their input and upbringing. Any success I have should be viewed as partly how they raised me. To her comment “You can’t be better than me,” I might respond, “Mom, I’m not trying to be better than you. I’m trying to be best that you’ve taught me to be. You’ve raised me to persue excellence and I am. Thank you for teaching me that!”

      Giving a little credit to them may help change the tone and conversation.

  34. There are a couple of ways to cope. If you have a concern troll in your family you’ll need to get some distance (geographic or temporal) from them. It’s hard enough to do what you need to do without being dragged down. So be sure to spend time with the right peer and support group. The second thing is to be selective about what you share and with whom. There are some things I just don’t share with certain people because I don’t want to elicit their limited mindset. I talk to them about other things. Just as you shouldn’t talk about sex or politics over Thanksgiving dinner with your relatives, it might be a good idea not talk about your new venture until it iss well on its way.

  35. This has happened to my wife and I. When we asked her family to help us take a trip to Paris by watching our 3 children, they sat us down and told us that they didn’t think the timing was right. They brought up concern for the children, the fact that my wife was 3 months pregnant, and projects around the house that could be completed with the money we’d spend on the trip. We listened to their concerns, thanked them for expressing their concern for us, and then told them that while we understand their position, we have decided that we are still going. If they did not want to watch our children, we would completely understand and make other arrangements They helped us and it was the best thing for our marriage that we’ve ever done.

    I would tell this person that the concerns most often come from fear of the unknown. I would encourage him/her to ask them to explain more about their concerns. “That’s interesting. Why do you think that? Maybe there is something I haven’t thought about.” This engages them into helping you address a concern that they brought up. If they respond with a nonsense answer (e.g., “It always happens like that,”), then responding (politely) with the research you’ve done to support your decision may help inform them and settle their fears. Sometimes, when those fears are paranoia and cannot be addressed regardless of facts, then perhaps consider addressing it from a relationship perspective. “I understand that you are concerned about me. I’ve done a lot of research and have prepared as best I can. What I really need now is people who will support me, cheer me on, and offer helpful advice. Since you’re my sibling/parent, I was really hoping to have you as one of my supporters. You don’t have to buy my product/service to support me. Just your words of encouragement are plenty. I know there are a lot of risks in starting a business, and it hurts when you assume that I will fail. I’d really like your support, but if you don’t think you can give it, then would you help me by not making negative comments?”

    This provides gives the family member two options: 1) support me, or 2) stop discouraging me. If they won’t, then I would limit the opportunities they have to make the comments. When comments, come, ignore the comment and change the conversation.

  36. Whenever someone spouts me with their misery, I immediately counter with something along the lines of “What can we do about it?” And keep hammering this question (in various forms) until the conversation switches from complaining to finding solutions.

  37. I have become more entrepreneurial this year, and begun to explore non traditional ways of earning. My mom and my dad have been extremely un-supportive.
    1. My mom is more straight forward in discouraging me: “That’s not going pan out”, “Your thinking is in the clouds”, etc etc.

    My dad is much more subtle. He says he worries “that I will fail and will become depressed” (or some other home brewed physiology BS). Or a sarcastic comment out of the blue when we are talking about a completely different topic.

    I found that both are extremely amazingly creative at coming up with BS, on why I shouldn’t put in effort to improve my skills.

    2. I encountered this kind of resistance only this year so I have not formed any strategies to dealing with kind of this. However I found its best not to reason with them, since their concerns are fear based so they excel at coming up with all sorts of nonsense which will outlast your reasoning capacity and demotivate you heavily. It best not to add fuel to the fire and let the conversation move to another topic.

  38. Hello,
    Thanks for sharing. At one point, my sister told me : sometimes businesses don’t work out. My ex told me to go get a real job. To be honest, I let go of my ex for other reasons. However, my sister is a different story. She is someone who I love and respect. So, it was very hurtful when she told me to get a job instead of moving forward with my business. The way I handled it was: I told her thank you for your opinion, but this is something that I am passionate about and I am going to do whatever it takes to grow my business. I respect your opinion, but lets just agree to disagree. Therefore, I will not talk to you about my business ventures anymore. When I hit 7 figures, then we can talk about my business, deal. So, I just stopped talking to her about my business ventures and continued to talk to her about all the fun sister stuff!

  39. Focus on your dreams and goals in your life. Don’t let other people steal your dreams, even they are one of the member of your family. Just listen to them, but then again the decision is still yours. If you can fight for it, then do it.

  40. You would think that family members would be the most supportive of anyone starting up a business. Sure you’d expect them to express any doubts, that’s natural but once you decided on a course of action then you would think you would get their backing. Sadly it doesn’t work like that. People do not understand the concept of internet marketing; it sounds a bit shady to them.

    I would explain that I am building websites, some of them I sell from, some I use as affiliate sites. Nope, still nobody understood. Then one happy day my sister was visiting and saw me writing an article on the computer – content for one of my sites. “Ah, so you write articles, that’s what you do!”. I saw no reason to argues and from that day on my job was a “writer” which everyone in the family is happy with. Apparently a writer is a respectable profession, whereas a marketer is not. Go figure :-)

  41. Well this is a very tricky situation. As someone who is dealing with this at this particular moment in my life I am more looking to tell my story rather than give advice. I find it very difficult when the person I chose to marry and the mother of my child is the one who is un-supportive. I work in the hotel industry and love every minute of it. I recently decided to take a job that was a little bit of a pay cut and about two hours away from what we call “home”. I took this job because it was really nice property and a what I think is a great career move. My wife has been passive aggressive through this whole thing and has been un-supportive, but also has not in the least bit been supportive. She does not want to move away from the little town that we grew up in and the elementary school that we both went to. Since my son is her mothers only grandson she does not want to move him away. My defense is that it is only two hours away it is not like I am trying to move to California (we live in NY). For three months I slept in my car trying to make this work because we could not afford the gas to come home every night after work. I would shower at the local golf course and also get ready there. I am proving my worth to this company one day at a time and would love to become a part of a new hotel they are building. I will do whatever it takes for my family to succeed and also my career. At some point don’t we have to stop living for our parents and start living for what we want. I love my wife to death and would do anything for her. But, if we want to have everything we want in life we are going to have to make sacrifices. Granted some of this was my fault because at the beginning I did not clearly communicate my goals. I do not know how to handle this because this is the person I live with. It is not my parents who I only talk to once a day, or every couple days. I live with her and share my feelings about everything with. I also have to be the rock for everyone (western ideas on men’s roll in life) so, I can’t exactly say how hard it is for me without her support. Any feedback is greatly appreciated. Thanks Ramit for all your teachings. If you want to give me some Indian wisdom on this situation please feel free.

  42. I swear this post is working through God, and has pulled me in. I am going through this very subject right now, with poisonous venom coming from my mother.
    In regards to this part:
    “What if it’s your brother? Your mom? Your dad? How are you supposed to handle family members that second-guess you…and make you feel bad about your choices?
    When this occurs in my life, I just use the words to push me to work 2 times as hard. Use it as fuel. Just like in sports when you get doubt, take those words and use it to push you to run faster, or workout harder.
    At the same time ,consider their words to an extent. Think about what they say, and if they have a valid point, then take it into consideration and appreciate that they told you, or if it is just poison and put down, then use their words to make you want to work even harder and succeed even more.

  43. As someone (like 99% of the rest of the planet) whose main source of opposition in my life has been family, I’ve developed many strategies to deal with traditional, old school (sometimes dysfunctional) and unsupportive family members.

    Here’s one that has worked every single time–and the specific incident was when I was going to leave my life in LA to move up to SF for a new job (without my boyfriend–who still had to stay in LA and live out the rest of our apt lease):

    The strategy is: Get ALL of the facts before you say a word to family members.

    What this translated to for me was:

    A) As I was searching for a new job, I didn’t tell a soul in my family about it. For all they knew, things were ‘status quo’ with me

    B) Once a job was kinda on the table (i.e.–i started interviewing) I still didn’t say anything. The reason being that nothing was set in stone yet, and I didn’t have all the facts. Which meant that all of their objections wouldn’t be answered (that’s where most of the problems start)

    C) Once I finished interviewing and had a 7-day wait time for the answer, that’s when I told just one family member (mom–who would have the most opposition). I told her first because she would have gotten upset if I didn’t, but we were able to have a normal, civil conversation because I had every single fact laid out for her–even though she still had her objections.


    Her: What are you doing to your relationship?
    Me: He and I have talked about it already, and we know it’s the right thing for us to do. We’re going to see each other (X amount of times every month) and talking every day. He’s also going to try to transfer to his SF office and/or search for a new job in the next couple of months.

    Her: Why can’t you just stay at your job in LA?
    Me: I know that this is the right career move for me because X, Y, and Z and this will offer me A + B–which is what I really want to be doing.

    Her: And where are you going to live? You can’t afford an apartment by yourself.
    Me: His parents invited me to move in with them, actually. They already know and they’re happy to welcome me in. They know it’s not permanent, since he’s going to be moving up here (within X timeframe), and then we’ll be looking for a place together again.

    Her: Ugh, Felicia…why do you have to do this? How are you even going to get to SF?
    Me: I put a lot of time and effort into this and you know, nothing is set in stone yet, Mom. But I know what I’m going to do if it works–I have a free flight on Southwest so it’ll be easy for me to fly there last minute–and if it doesn’t work out, I stay here. It’s easy.


    But this strategy of “getting all the facts” has mitigated so much trouble, I can’t even imagine. For whatever reason, saying “I don’t know” to typically strict, close-minded parents is like telling them that you hate them.

    But getting all of the facts first not only shows initiative, but also respect, responsibility, and careful consideration (all qualities most parents like these are looking for, and have seeked to nurture in you)

    I hope this helps–that strategy has never, ever failed me.


  44. This topic is so relevant. It is so important to have supportive people in your life to help you through difficult things. Unfortunately sometimes even your family and friends can have difficulty being supportive for whatever reason.

    I have a mother that is from the generation that you stay in your job forever and just be quiet and work hard and you will get ahead. I would never have the job that I have now if I had listened to that advice. I just really wanted to find a career at a company where I would enjoy the work and get paid what I felt I was worth, so I didn’t give up. I am so happy I didn’t settle with the first job and company that I started my career at.

    Sometimes not sharing with family members when you take on a new challenge in your life until after things are underway is for the best. If you have a partner or close friend that is always supportive then you can share with them instead. Family will be disappointed that you didn’t let them know right away but you will be happy not having to deal with the negativity. In the end trust your gut and a little prayer doesn’t hurt either!

  45. I have had to deal with this all my life. I’ve gone from being called “thick, useless and stupid” which does nothing positive for your self-esteem to just letting it all go.

    I was blind with anger for many years, pointing the finger, coming up with excuses for why I wasn’t doing anything and one day I realized one simple reality: I can’t change my family, but I can change the way I deal with them.

    That set me free. Learn to forgive them, find a way to be grateful for the good things they have done (if any) and simply accept them for who they are. If they don’t support you they don’t period. Who cares? Surround yourself with people that will support you and they can become your ‘family’. If you hinge your success to changing how they think of you — you’re doomed.

    Put your energy into learning whatever it takes to move you forward on your path and forget about looking back. Who knows, you may even see a shift in their attitude if you don’t rise to the bait leaving them wondering how stupid they are for being so petty, jealous, envious or just cruel.

  46. If you looked up “Concern Troll” in the dictionary, you would see only a pix of my family. It started when I was 13 and dragged on until I was 35 years old. I agree, it’s not a good idea to suddenly cut off all ties with them, unless it’s a safety issue, obviously. My solution was to slowly, but earnestly, begin to distance myself and every aspect of my life from them, (that took me 7 years) I didn’t say or do anything hateful, it was just a determined shift in another direction without injury to them. I don’t hate them today, in fact they all have my phone number and address they just don’t call or come over anymore. If I see them in a grocery store, I smile, answer as few questions as possible and then find the nearest exit. There is no reward anymore, so they don’t have a reason to contact me since I no long participate in the free-flowing drama fests, I am not shocked when they criticize or insult me, and I no longer lend them money, (keep in mind the word “lend” is used very loosely in my family, it actually means, “I have no intention of paying you back”, I only say, “can I borrow or can you lend me”, as a courtesy to you. That way, you won’t feel duped, and I won’t feel any guilt for not paying you back). It took a long time but my life is mine today, and I am calm and happy, I have “some” really good memories of my experiences with them, but for the most part, I’m still “licking my wounds”, working on “Forgiveness” and watching out for traps; in the end though, I”m proud of the way I handled myself and because of that, I don’t feel guilty over it today!


  47. I have a followup comment to my earlier one.

    My uncle is a former NASA astronaut. He’s performed repairs on the Hubble telescope, and is one of the few people who has done successive spacewalks.

    Yet, I hear stories from our family about how one of his parents still has moments where she treats him poorly, as if he has accomplished nothing. She’s also had depression her entire life.

    If you look harder at how she behaves, some of her harsher words for him actually have very little to do with him.

    Just remember that sometimes, no matter what kind of a badass you are, your family has their own insecurities that may not be about you at all.

  48. […] When you try to deviate from the norm by creating your own business and being responsible for your own success, people will try to cut you down. They’ll say “What happens if you fail? What if you don’t make enough money?” “Why don’t you just stay in your job?” And it’s fine if those people are your jealous co-workers or stuck-in-their-ways friends. But what happens if those people are your close family – your mum, dad, brother? In this article, some readers give advice to a guy in a sticky situation… […]

  49. My parents have both passed and the only family I have is a sister & two brothers. They act as if I don’t exist until it’s their or their children’s birthday or a holiday and they expect a gift from me. When my birthday has been forgotten they say, “So…. what’s your point?” They don’t invite me for any holidays but call me on those days to tell me the great time they are having with their spouses and kids. Isn’t your family supposed to care about you? Have some regard for you? I’m not a drug addict, I’ve never killed any one or been to jail or asked them for money. But they don’t care about me at all.

    • lornashawI am sorry for the way your family is treating you and can relate with great compassion but have no answers for you except go on without them in your life and find good supportive friends . Remember we can’t make others love us but respect is a different thing . I have been where you are all my life and wish i had just stayed but as we age we need family or illnesses and going backin my expierence did not change a thing after all the years apart . I am now an aging senior and the only thing or word i can find that fits my family …is …first very disfunctional ..selfish and self righteous and very critical of what i say or do to the point that i dont know myself anymore . THIS kind of treatment is nothing short of the worst kind of ABUSE both mentally and affects you physically. I would say dont walk run from those people and dont look back .Wish today i had stayed away . God bless you .

  50. My husband passed away a year ago I took care of him till he passed.all by myself.i have a 21 year old who never even came over to help give me a break instead she moved in with my mom. She lives around the corner from mother never even came over. Now my daughter won’t talk to me. And my mother has taken over my daughter haven’t talked to my daughter in almost a year. And my mother won’t even be a mother to me. My daughter has always been my mothers favorite. I’m getting angry angry angry. What do I do

  51. My mother and father are both gone. Before they passed I took care of them. Father for 21 years and my mother only a short time because the cancer spread so quickly. I have one sister who did not help at all. She is and always will be a narcissist. She now has R.A. I let her move in with me, so I could help her get her life together. Big huge mistake!!! She drained me financially and mentally…. when she found a man who had money she moved out. I had to sell my home to regroup. I have cousins in indiana who have been wanting me to move close to them…. promising that they would help me if I needed them. Even said that they could help me with employment working for them. So I packed up and moved from S.C. Now the only help I ask for was to help me move my things in when I got there. I was told that I would be moving to my cousins home for a while. Till I got myself situated and ready to get my own little home again.
    When I arrived…. I found that the home of my cousin had holes in the walls, ceiling, and floor. My room not insulated. I have to go outside and unlock the front door to get to the bathroom….. In zero degree weather snow and ice. No one prepared me for this! I cannot even walk one straight line in that house, junk and trash everywhere. Electrical sockets most do not work. Gas heater has a small leak, he says its too small to worry about. It’s right by my room.
    Have been there a year now, no changes. Appliances do not work right or not work at all.
    I pay him weekly. I am not a freeloader.
    Sorry! I got off track a little!
    I get here….. no one showed up to help me move in. They never did anything they said they would do. NOTHING!!!
    I found a job working 55 to 68 hours a week. I have no downtime, no breaks. And they keep asking me why I do not want to socialize with them. I am stressed beyond belief! Living in a filthy hoarders house. Forgot to mention my cousin is also an alcoholic….I am saving for a move BACK TO SC! I cannot live like this…. I have no time for them period…. I love them…. they know how I feel and all about this God awful place I am living in… when I told them about the holes, the heater, they say oh how terrible….. days later they ask how I am doing….the very same questions. I give them the very same answer…
    I am done with repeating myself.
    I am done with all of this!!
    I will speak nicely to them over the phone, letters whatever, but will not socialize….

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  54. It’s amazing to me how some people treat their family – not friends their family ! To cut your family out of your life because they are making you sick and/ or its getting in the way of your life goals is selectively unloving and selfish. As it goes you take the good with the bad and you FILTER OUT of your head what you don’t want to listen to, maybe even communicating to these poison causing family members how you FEEL(not think) about what their comments are doing to you. If they are the thick headed types instead of cutting them completely out your lives how bout being selective on what you want to hear from them and maybe they will get the hint as well as recognize what they are about and have a little bit of breathing room from them. Family is family through the good and bad. I would do anything for my family even though I have nothing much in common with them but I can’t see why you would cut them out of your life unless they are a danger to you outright

    • I’m sorry but you seriously lack perspective, by saying its selfish and unloving to cut abusive people out of your life is flat out wrong. You have made the assumption that we just went straight to cutting them out, or put very little effort into finding a middle ground. Constantly being a scapegoat to your family IS a DANGER to your long-term well being. Think about it. In your own words, “To cut your family out of your life because they are making you sick and/ or its getting in the way of your life goals is selectively unloving and selfish”, how do you not see the danger in this. Seriously! Constant abuse will make you lose self-esteem and you will lose motivation to pursue your goals, and leave you wondering how it could of been with a little support. Life is hard enough already, putting in extra effort to FILTER OUT the diarrhea which flows from negative family members mouths is ridiculous. Your most likely visualizing YOUR family while reading everyone’s comments and confused as to why most need to take these drastic measures, but THERE ARE more terrible families than your own. Guess what, they will NEVER get the hint. Sorry. :)

  55. Dharmendra Bhagat Link to this comment

    I am a businessman aged 47. Basically I am a jeweller. I do my business since 1998. Before that I was working in a jewelry company. I married in 1994. My wife was working in government job. She is very co operati’ve. In1998 my second son was born and I decided to start my business. My start was regular. I was doing everything good. In 2005 I started my office in Dubai also. Till 2010 everything was going well. But after 2010 I started facing problem s in business. In 2013 I have to shut down my Dubai office. After that I went to Africa and did gold mining but again I failed. I came back to India in 2014. I told my wife to left job in 2006 due to take care of children. So in 2014 I started a cloth store in India to run house. I had an idea to do my business alongside with my wife’s cloth business. But after almost a year, my business still not pickup. My wife lost confidence in me and I am feeling very depressed. I am getting dull day by day. I don’t want to lose my self-confidence. Does anyone advised what to do?

  56. I’ve gone through most of my life with my family not supporting me on anything. No one ever backed me up or defended me when things happened. Anytime something would happen and I got hurt, or someone attacked me verbally, it was always my own fault. I was never taught how to deal with or handle bullies, and my family never protected me. Then later, my mom started attacking me, giving me a hard time about everything I did in my life if I wasn’t pleasing every g-damn person that came across my life. Later, as I got older and moved out of her house, she was still giving me a hard time about everything and every choice that I made. She was always yelling at me about something. I just got fed up with it and I minimized the amount of contact with her. It took almost twenty years after I moved out and lived on my own that she finally got the message somewhere. When we were talking on the phone, her voice got kind of heavy, and said that she felt really bad about how she treated my brother, sister and especially me. So, I guess she apologized in that way, and she said that she hopes I will forgive her. She did say that she was going through some hard times, but it was no excuse for the way she treated me. I was surprised that she even apologized because it took so long. Personally, in the back of my mind, I think that she apologized either because someone got after her because she might have been treating others badly if I wasn’t around to be bullied. My mom is remarried, and it may be possible that my stepfather was going to walk out on her if she did not change her ways.

    I know what is best for me because I have experienced so much with how people treated me and what I have to show for it. I refuse to waste any of my time with people who do not treat me right, life is too short. I think that in the end, if someone is worth having in your life, that person should be able to see the light and listen. I wasn’t able to do this on my own. When people are treated badly by others, unfortunately, a moderator is sometimes needed to hear both sides. If possible, we should never turn our backs on our family because in the end it is all we have, but sometimes if it so unbearable, it may best to have minimal contact.

  57. But family member’s are very important in our life….Sometimes they couldn’t understand us…….Then what we should do???

  58. In life sometimes we fight winless and just plain out meaningless battles, especially where biological family is concerned. It will unproductively take away from you mentally, physically and health wise so just let go and cut them off. Family doesn’t necessarily have to be biological because your biological family can cause a lot of problems, strife and unnecessary stress in your life. Certain families will even single one out as the scapegoat to always blame, disgrace and show unsupportive behavior too but there comes a time when enough is enough because repetively condoning certain people and their behavior is almost like you’re apart of the problem indirectly. You will only get what you allow. Cut them off!!

  59. 1.) Yes. I have had select members (not everyone) in my family who have either flat out said that whatever I happened to desire to do was pointless, meaningless, or even stupid because I wasn’t doing what they wanted me to do, or because they don’t see the value in loving to do something because you love it, not doing something just to do it/just for the payoff. I have also had an even more select group of family members who, seemingly everyday, use either subtleties, or who use straight up personal attacks (which I will not list here) in order to insult an idea of mine, or a desire of mine Subtleties such as these are commonplace in my everyday life; the rolling of the eyes during or after my statement, turning of the head to listen to something else as I’m speaking loudly and clearly at them/to them, or even changing the topic, not to a completely different topic, but rather to a similar (not exact) topic that weens the conversation off of my discussion by either masquerading it as a mistake or by simply flowing out of my conversation with them by using excuses like; “Oh, I’m sorry, I thought you were finished”, or, “Yeah that’s great, but…”, or, “Ah. I see. So anyways…”, or even a patronizing, “Oooh. I didn’t know that”. It’s subtleties like those that I have to put up with everyday because I’m not like everyone else in my family. But the thing is, when I call them out on it, I’m the inconsiderate one, the jerk, the angry family member whose likeness is to that of a bull in a china shop. It’s me who is the hypocrite, even though they claim to be the same as me when clearly, they aren’t. All of this is just another subtle strategy at demonizing/demoralizing those who they hate because they live differently than them.

    2.) Patience is the key to solve this problem. Patience and faith not misplaced anger and disownment. Now please, PLEASE understand that I’m not coming on here to preach religion or anything like that. I am here to speak the truth out of my own experiences and out of obedience (I have a feeling that this is really going to hurt)… *takes a deep breath* The truth is, is that going through all of this is easier and worth it after praying to God that He would grant you His mercy (which, when granted, leads to sorrow over sin because of what it does to God, which leads to salvation given by grace alone, which is taken in faith alone, which is in Christ alone) by honestly and truly begging for His mercy in prayer, and then trusting in Christ to be there when you need Him the most. Nothing else works. I’m absolutely serious, guys; nothing else works. Faith in Christ (Not faith in hope to one day get out of your predicament, or using distractions to deal with the situation via work, hobbies, spending time with friends, or by having alone time) is what will make this situational hurt not last as long. Sure that hurt will still be there, but giving that hurt up to Christ through prayer having trust that He died for you, was resurrected, and will provide your needs will, over time, cause for that hurt to no longer dominate your feelings, your mind, and/or your desires (see; “sanctification”). You will be free – and then you will be able to see your family for who/what they really are and for what they truly mean, making it easier to not only deal with them, but a lot easier to work on them. Remember that God loves those who choose what pleases Him – and the only thing that pleases Him is… Trust. Trusting in Him to be your Lord and Savior – your Shepherd – your High Tower and Strength – your Friend – your Helper – your very personal and very loving Father. God loves you very deeply, and so do I. He loves you enough that His Son, Jesus Christ, died for you and was resurrected three days after in order to show His rule over death. He did this out of love for a dying world; once for all sin for all who would receive His Word… Hit me up if you’re curious to know more. (Isaiah 56:1-8)

  60. Well, where do I begin. LOLLLLL……..I’ve been dealing with a family member that has been going ballistic and crazy about not having any alcohol in the house And that they are determined that I threw it out or get out the same which I did not And shut down and basically having this horrible and his social behavior toward me right now and I’ve been caring for this person being there for them And so all of you guys is There’s always a flip side to every good thing and this person drive a test was negative three and happens to be my dad And I just need to know what I need to do because I tend to fly off the handle right back at him and he yells and screams and acts nasty and belligerent to me. What’s the best course of action to take because we both can get hot headed and say things we don’t mean like iron sharpening iron but I am a caregiver Been doing that type of work since 2003 I can care for everybody elses family members except my own so I don’t feel like a failure I would like to know the best route to take with feeling with us it’s almost as if he’s punishing me For something I didn’t do it If he doesn’t have 80 proof or a whiskey Which is crazy So help me out here What should i do just give him his space and leave him alone

  61. So my husband of 23 years died. The kids (3 of them) and I decided not to have a formal memorial service. My husband loved to play golf. We decided to get all of his golf buddies together for one last game in his memory with a luncheon to follow. One of his golf buddies was my brother-in-law.

    Here’s the deal. My sister and her husband said they will not participate because he can’t take a day off from volunteer work and she cannot take a day off from work. Then I find out that they are taking time off to go to a baseball game.

    Am I overreacting when I feel that they are being unsupportive?

  62. I have this problem with my mom, she told me that I looks like a gay by being skinny or have a ideal body in my opinion. And it changed me.

  63. what if your mom and older brother blames you for the things you didn’t do but when you are able to prove that your long time nanny/house keeper did it they justify her actions even though you had a proof of video in the cctv of your home that she did it. and if you admit a mistake even though you say sorry they treat you coldy for days, weeks and even for months.
    Ever since I was young this has always been happening
    I’ved talked about this to my mom allot of times already that i lost count but nothing is change and everytime she would just tell me to shut up and forget it like it never existed nor ever happened. I don’t know why they seems to believe everything she says to them to the point that its like I am the one rude or the one always ruining the happy perfect family illusion they created with her.

    • and when they saw she really did it they would justify her actions by saying nobody is perfect but when it comes to me even though my mistakes are less serious mistakes than our nanny they treat me so cold over and over that sometimes i get so depress that i don’t eat properly because we all live in one roof and they keep saying nasty stuff to me over and over but when it comes to her in just a snap they forgive her and justify her actions by saying nobody is perfect. :'(

  64. What would you do if you found out that a whole city tried sabotaging you because they are all able to see you email texts and different things that you have access to via your name and accounts? Even my family tried sabotaging me and now they are upset because I’m taking this information to the FBI and telling them that they tried sabotaging myself and my credibility because they made a video and tried to say it was me and it wasn’t and now they’re in trouble with the law. I can’t help them. Then they made like they were going to keep my children away from me through the fake CPS case. I didn’t even get the court documents until like 1 minute before the court case was supposed to begin and they think I’m afraid of what they’ll do if the FBI finds out. I’m telling everyone what they did to me and I hope they do get into trouble. They’re names are Antronette Des’ Moine Malone, Andrea Daneille Carroll, Adrianne Thompson, fake Adam Greene, Benjamin Louchi, I forget the fake judge’s name, a fake U.S. Administrative judge named Davidson Momah, Leon Thompson and so many others.

  65. I’m having the same issues with my parents. They keep trying to control my life with passive aggressive statements e.g. “I’m not trying to tell you what to do but *insert negative comment* and it always ends up with them (especially my dad) going ballistic. Recently, I started a website which I have worked my ass off on and my dad keeps dismissing it as trivial and providing zero support even to the point of making it clear that he’d cut me off financially (not like he gives me a huge stipend but I live under my parents roof as I just left uni and even get zero pocket money from them) if I don’t plan my life exactly the way he wants. I took a small break after uni to work on my own projects but my parents are it as me doing nothing even though I’m working so hard and using my savings. I’m 22 with a Master’s degree from a top-top school but for some reason they don’t trust that I can make any right decisions on my own and its getting toxic as I’m beginning to develop a bit of hatred. What do you guys suggest that I do??