How accepting their limitations will set you free

accepting their limitations

Have you ever been told to “let go” of resentment over how a family member treated you? Rather than letting go I suggest accepting their limitations instead.

Accepting their limitations does not mean condoning bad behavior. It means letting go of the belief that they will ever change, and the magical thinking that they will one day understand you.

It’s important to realize dysfunctional family members are invested in misunderstanding you. They need to tell themselves you’re wrong and deserve to be maligned, otherwise they might have to look at themselves.

Acknowledging your point of view would mean accepting that something needs to change. Whether that’s your relationship or the whole family system.

Validating your concerns would mean admitting they were wrong. They can’t do that because their entire belief system depends on you taking the blame.

When I say belief system I mean “family”. Dysfunctional families act in a cult-like manner when they dictate how everyone must behave and what roles they play.

Dysfunctional families act like cults when they dictate how everyone must behave and what roles they play. Click To Tweet

Accepting their limitations means telling the truth

They may have demonized you for telling the truth. Because you’re a truth teller you innocently believe they only need to see the truth to understand.

But the whole system is based on hiding the truth. You are a threat because you seek to expose the truth for the purpose of healing.

Dysfunctional families are not interested in healing. Their primary concern is maintaining the sick status quo at all costs.

Dysfunctional families are not interested in healing. Their primary concern is maintaining the sick status quo at all costs. Click To Tweet

Usually, there is one person who is particularly toxic and the rest of the family enables him or her. By questioning this setup you pose a serious threat to the cult/family.

Your desire to shed light on the situation is anathema to those who believe their lives depend on staying in the dark. Your mistake was believing your family loves you and wants what’s best for you.

Our culture promotes this erroneous belief that families are always loving. You kept yourself safe as a child by believing your family loved you because the alternative was too scary.

Instead of seeing the stark truth, you invented a narrative in your little mind that had nothing to do with what was happening in plain sight.

“My parents are loving, caring and capable, and I am the problem, ” you told yourself. “If I behave better, act perfectly, and make them happy, they will love me; I just have to try harder.”

Now that you’re an adult, that facade is cracking. You’re beginning to see the truth that something is rotten in the state of Denmark (to quote Shakespeare).

It’s not your job to heal the family

accepting their limitations

You believe it’s your job to heal the family when this is really a call to focus on yourself. You’re so conditioned to believe your happiness depends on their acceptance that you can’t let go of the quest for their understanding.

They’ve made love conditional so you don’t see the love that’s always available inside you. Accepting their limitations feels impossible because you’ve spent your whole life trying to win them over.

You believed without their love you might die. So, admitting the truth that it really is unwinnable feels like a death.

What keeps you miserable is believing you have the power to change people who have no interest in changing. Click To Tweet

But, letting go of the dream that they will one day understand you is your key to life. What keeps you miserable is believing you have the power to change people who have no interest in changing.

The same system that made you responsible for maintaininig toxic relationships makes you believe it’s your job to heal your family.

Instead, this is a call to heal yourself.

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  1. Gemma

    This is brilliant… spoke exactly to where I’m at and what I’ve been struggling with for 50 years. It really does feel like a death which is why I have suffered severe depression for the past year trying to cope with the shame, blame & scapegoating they inflict on me. Mother and brothers, their wives and children. An operation of annihilation or dehumanisation. It’s horrendous.
    Father passed away 2 years & they all went on the attack. It was an enormous shock to me as I’ve always been a pleaser but also stood up very strongly to any abuse. For this, I am demonised, they make you pay for the rest of your life.
    I have tried hard to help heal the family. But it’s not my job.

    My focus needs to be on myself & my own family now. To grieve the “mother” I thought I had but realised it was all a stage act. This is shocking covert abuse that some never recover from, however with support, targeted trauma therapy. Speakers & authors like you, we can have a chance at life.

    • You are absolutely right to focus on your own needs; that’s the only way to move forward. We weren’t taught self-love and self-care so we don’t know what it feels like and it doesn’t come naturally, but we can learn it. Glad to hear you making this choice for yourself.

    • Janine

      Thank you
      This is exactly my family also
      I need to remind myself “I matter” “My kids and grandkids and hubby are my priority” “Go where the love is”

  2. Jennifer Carey

    Wow! This was spot on and couldn’t be more accurate. Thank you for this brilliant insight and making me feel like I’m not alone. The encouragement to focus on myself is exactly what I needed to keep focused on my own journey of healing and self love without guilt.

    • You’re so welcome! I’m glad it resonated with you and encouraged you.

  3. Karen Whitaker

    Oh my. Laura… This is exactly what I needed to read. It’s my truth. All of it. I’ve done all of it and it’s only been the past 2-3 years that I have realized just how deep in denial I’ve been for 40+ years. As you say, the real truth was too awful to take in. In finding people such as yourself and others, I’m looking at everything with new eyes. I’ve taken away all the benefit of doubt I gave them and also all the excuses. I’m looking at the truth square in the face and I’m not blinking or turning away. I’m relieving myself of the blame I’ve carried my entire life. Most of all, I’m walking away for good.

    Thank you so much for helping all of us like you do

    • Hi Karen, thank you for sharing your experience. I know how hard it is to admit the truth – it’s excruciating! But it is the only way to have an authentic life. Welcome to the rest of your beautiful life. It’s truly never too late.

  4. Helen Gibson

    Hi Gemma
    Your situation is exactly the same as mine except my dad hasn’t died. He’s 85 though and has fibromyalgia and other illnesses and is not well.
    I’m 55 and totally worn down and sick of this situation. I’m in Detox at the moment and restricted to use my phone (7pm till 9pm UK), even though I used the last of my savings to come in here.
    My father used to understand. Both my sisters moved away at 18 and I stayed local to do my nursing. He said numerous times, if I’d gone away and one of my sisters had stayed, “they would have got it”, the despicable scapegoating from my ignoring, covert, evil, malignant narc mother. Now my father’s older, he’s totally gone on her side. He used to slag her off to me and my son, so I feel very betrayed by him.
    Five years ago, my nm tried to poison my son against me but it didn’t work. I went NC but didn’t tell them, my son also didn’t want to go around anymore. Three years later my dad was sent around to tell me I’d been disinherited because they hadn’t seen my son in three yrs. This brought on a massive depression and I’ve hardly got out of bed the following four years, no help off mental health, so I came here. They don’t understand about narcissistic abuse here, yet the ‘salesman’ told me they did.
    My nm has poisoned the whole family against me over many years, yet both my sisters have never heard my side. In-between lots of ostracised, just for adultly disagreeing with nm, I’d built up relationships with my two nieces and nephews, so I’ve lost everyone as they are all under her control. I didn’t have a support network in place and don’t have a partner.
    So yes, thank God for these sites and the knowledge which is available to us. I am praying to find the strength in me to get through this.
    I was working for 19 yrs before the depression came and had female friends, but of course they don’t understand it as they haven’t been through it so the friendships faded due to my depression.
    I wish you and everyone else going through this the best of luck.
    To be a Scapegoat in these cult like families, is absolute purgatory.