How to squash morning depression

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Caught in Family Denial? When Minimizing Empowers Abuse

Ever caught yourself making excuses for a family member who regularly belittles and humiliates you?


Do you nervously laugh off harsh criticism from a loved one, even as it makes you feel small? You may be trapped in a cycle of minimization, downplaying toxic behavior to avoid conflict.

Blind to the bruises that break you

When a family member regularly hurls insults, mocks us, or puts us down, it inflicts deep bruises upon our spirit that throb painfully.

But if we refuse to acknowledge the abuse, we allow it to continue unfettered. “He doesn't really mean it,” we reassure ourselves. “She's just going through a tough time.”

We pretend their harsh words don't phase us, while our self-worth slowly crumbles.

Minimizing the destruction being caused prevents us from stopping it. The bruises multiply until we feel too battered to go on.

Truth of the poisoned arrow

Words pierce our soul as sharply as arrows puncture flesh.

The old adage “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me” woefully denies this truth.

When mockery, belittlement and shame come from those who are supposed to love us unconditionally, it leaves ragged scars across our hearts.

The poison seeps in until we can barely lift our heads.

Though they excuse it as joking, any form of verbal or emotional abuse from family requires acknowledgment.

For it is not the intention behind their reckless aim, but the grave wounds inflicted that matter. Only by facing the ruthless devastation of their poisoned arrows can the healing begin.

Let me elaborate...

Visualize your soul as a baloon

Over time, absorbed barbs of “you're too sensitive” or “can't you take a joke?” puncture holes in our shields. Self-doubt seeps in, deflating our balloon.

Each harsh word serves as confirmation: “See, you really are worthless.”

To reinflate your balloon, strengthen your inner shield first. How? By countering internal put-downs with reminders of your talents and worth.

Celebrate small acts of courage.instead of minimizing them.

Next, fortify your outer shield by calling out caustic remarks, rather than explaining them away.

Even if you don't challenge your abuser externally, It is crucial that you call  the toxic words what they are. Don't sugarcoat it. This way toxicity will stop slipping in behind your rader.

With practice, this two-step process rebuilds your defenses. Here's how:

First, the pinpricks of self-criticism and doubt begin to bounce off your strengthened inner shield. You've filled gaps through self-compassion.

Your mind becomes an ally rather than enemy.

Next, your reinforced outer barrier deflects others' disparaging darts. You recognize cruelty for what it is and refuse to absorb it.

"That comment was unacceptable," you realize, and move on, unscathed.

Rebirthing your inner power

When we deny reality to keep the peace, our spirit withers. But shedding light on distortion resurrects inner vitality. 

Facing reality head-on requires courage. It's brave to acknowledge the truth of abuse or manipulation by a family member, rather than pretending it's not happening. Looking at the situation clearly is the first tough step.

Calling out manipulation or passive aggression takes strength. Directly confronting manipulative or indirect hostility from a family member is empowering, though difficult. We build emotional muscles by standing up to it.

We honor our own worth by refusing to carry undeserved shame and not taking on toxic shame or blame that the abuser tries to heap on us

And we regain control by setting clear boundaries frees us from the victim mentality. This helps us establish what behavior we will and won't accept, helping us break free from feeling powerless. 

Bearing this in mind...

Here's how to fortify your internal shield practically. Step by step...

Step1: Pay attention to when criticisms, insults or unkind words from family members spark negative self-talk.

For example, if your father calls you "thoughtless" for forgetting something, notice if you immediately think things like "I'm so stupid and useless." Identify the external trigger.

Step 2: When this happens, consciously stop the self-criticism cycle.

Tell yourself: "This triggers my inner critic, but these harsh judgments are not truth."

Step 3: Intentionally replace the self-attacking talk with a compassionate, rational inner voice. 

Respond to yourself gently: "It's human to make mistakes sometimes. I'm doing the best I can and that's enough."

Step 4: Keep a list of your positive qualities and accomplishments. Refer to it when you start negatively spiraling.

If you've been called "lazy", remind yourself "I completed my big project ahead of schedule through my own hard work." Affirm your worth.

Step 5: If you can, limit contact with relatives who regularly trigger painful self-criticism. 

Abusive, toxic family members reinforce negative thought cycles. As you grow stronger, you may find yourdself able to cope better with them. But whilst you are learning to reinforce your inner shield, reduce exposure and build healthier relationships.

Now that you have fortified your inner shield, It is time to strenghtn your external shield.

Do this to strenghten your external shield

Step 1: Become aware of situations/relationships where you regularly receive criticism or abuse. 

Make note of when and how often rude, mocking, or demeaning comments happen. Who is disrespecting your boundaries?

Step 2: Prepare responses in advance to deploy when facing hurtful remarks.

Script out polite but firm replies like “Please don’t speak to me that way” or “That comment crossed a line. I expect respect.”

Step 3: Start asserting your boundaries in the moment when family members cross the line.

When your aunt calls you “ungrateful”, take a deep breath and calmly say “I won’t accept being spoken to in that insulting manner.”

Step 4: Communicate clearly how you expect to be treated with kindness going forward.

Inform relatives: “Moving forward I need you to talk to me in a way that builds me up, not tears me down.”

Step  5: Distance yourself from toxic relationships with no sign of change after setting boundaries.

If certain family members continue hurtful conduct despite requests for respect, limit time with them to protect your peace of mind.

Remember - putting up healthy barriers against criticism is not mean, it is an act of self-care. You teach others how to treat you by what you permit. Your shield will only grow stronger.

Build your armour today


Because You deserve inner peace too.

This journey begins within.

It is true... Words you once absorbed as poison can really be deflected.

So grow a powerful inner voice to counter cruel self-talk. Respond with wisdom when your heart cries weakness.

Nurture compassion to fill spaces where shame took root. You are worthy.

When outer criticism penetrates, hold fast to your worth.

Meet malice with courage, refuse to host negativity.

Surround yourself with those who encourage your light. And limit time with those who dim your shine.

Your defenses will now grow stronger each day. Soon no words can breach your inner shields.

The choice is yours - build armor to weather outer storms or remain vulnerable to their destruction.

With resilient shields, you can glow bright. This way, your worth will never be defined by your tormentors.

Yes! You hold that power!!

The time to fortify your defenses is now. 

Found this article helpful? There’s more to learn...

Watch the Free  training “How to Survive Difficult Family Members” for proven ways to handle toxic relatives.

But don’t just survive - learn to thrive when facing family negativity.

This training gives you real skills to defend against cruelty.

Register 100% free and watch the training now by clicking below.

How to deal with toxic family members

Written by Adewale Ademuyiwa


How to deal with a difficult family member

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