Do you come from a ‘dysfunctional’ family? Families today face a huge amount of stress, whether it’s job-related stress, the arrival of a new baby, or relocation stress. Unrelenting emotional stress could put a family at risk for trouble. And how a family copes with such stress spells the difference between a healthy family and a dysfunctional family.   

In a dysfunctional family, child neglect and abuse, conflict, and misbehavior are prevalent. There is a tremendous amount of emotional and psychological disturbance within family members. Children from dysfunctional families assume this situation is normal, which isn’t because it’s unhealthy. Here are 10 signs that you were raised in a dysfunctional family:

  1. You always want to be perfect. Do you crave perfection in everything you do? Are you afraid of failure? If yes, then you probably grew up in a dysfunctional family. In dysfunctional families, parents often exert excessive pressure on their children to excel – and never fail, thus triggering the fear of failure. The children inevitably grow up to be perfectionists.
  2. You always (try to) please people. Do you feel guilty about standing up for yourself? Saying ‘no’ to people and not giving in to their demands or attention? If yes, then it’s a sign that you are from a dysfunctional family. You always do everything in your power to please them, become nice to them for the sake of being nice, and sacrifice personal needs to make other people happy. You seem not to have a concept of self-love.  
  3. You are often undecided. You don’t know what you would like to do today, in the evening, or tomorrow, and you have a hard time coming up with anything. You don’t have a clue about what you want to do or make yourself happy. Why is that? It could be that you have spent so much time trying to make other people happy. You spent so much time trying to please others that you failed to look after your own happiness.
  4. You feel guilty a lot. It’s not the guilt you feel after doing something wrong, intentionally or accidentally, but the guilt that you take on that you should never have in the first place. It’s a sign that you couldn’t be true to who you are. Many people actually feel guilty about being who they are, having desires, able to say ‘no’ to people, doing things for themselves, not giving in to others, etc.
  5. You end up in non-reciprocal relationships. It seems that the people in your life – family members, friends, colleagues, or a significant other – seem to be needy and always needing something from you. You’re the one everyone comes to for help. You’re the giver, the solver, the contributor, etc. You’re only that to them, period.
  6. You’re hard on yourself. Are you more critical of yourself than you deserve? No matter what you do or achieve, you’re your worst critic and you are unfair. You always criticize yourself first. You often emotionally and psychologically beat yourself up over small mistakes that have no or minimal consequences. Worse, you keep criticizing yourself after having corrected a mistake.
  7. You either have too much or not enough conflict in your intimate relationship. Nobody wants conflict, but conflict is inevitable, especially when you’re being who you are. It’s just natural for people to disagree, to want different things, etc. If you’re constantly quarreling and arguing with no resolution, you may have come from a family that never tried to resolve things and instead just glossed over them. If you have never quarreled, you may have come from a family that was ineffective with dealing with a child’s emotional needs, treating as if the child never has any emotional needs.
  8. You lack communication skills. Communication is non-existent in a dysfunctional family. You probably “stuffed” your feelings from your dysfunctional childhood and have lost the ability to feel or express your feelings. You lack the ability to communicate your emotions in a healthy way. You shut your emotions down completely.
  9. You are always anxious. Even when things are good, you are always worried that something will go wrong. You always feel apprehensive, worry about tomorrow, and regret what you could change. You feel like you have lost control of your life, that you are never able to enjoy yourself. You cannot shake the pact of your dysfunctional upbringing.
  10. You become an alcoholic, gambler, or drug addict, you marry one, or both. In many cases, children tend to follow the examples of their dysfunctional parents. Their dysfunctional upbringing could negatively affect their adult life. Lacking good adult role models in their childhood, they may not know how to cope or behave like responsible adults.  

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