How To Deal With Negative Family Members


I've taken some steps towards becoming a peaceful and happy being. However, there's the matter of other people and their own negativity, in this case my closest family. They are quite a wonderful but negative bunch. I've often been mad at them and try to change their ways but I realize now how wrong I was. Nowadays I try to change myself. 

I've actually decided to cut back on my relations with my mother a little since I believe we have a very unhealthy relationship. However, I really want to keep seeing her in the future and I'm afraid to fall back in old habits of arguing. And I want to see my grandmother. She is very lonely but also incredibly negative, she shouts and complains about everything all the time, and I don't know how I can handle it. There's nothing I can do to help her, she complains about stuff on the news, about things that happened over the last 60 years, about our relatives and I realize that she, and my mother, just want to express their feelings. I guess I'm really sensitive because I get such anxiety, unpleasant feelings and sometimes such anger when they do this.

At the moment I just ignore every negative thing they say, but it really really bothers me... How can I change the way I feel about this? I really want to be the happiest me I can be. 


Let your family members be as they are. Give them space. I mean this even if you are sitting with them – give them space to be. Don’t take any responsibility for what they say or do, and do not take any responsibility for your own reactions…

When these waves of unpleasant feelings arise in you – let these be as well. Do not identify with them. Be the neutral space of awareness in which feelings arise. Be a witness to them, let them be. Treating feelings in this way will begin to remove their power over you. Negativity can not survive in an accepting, surrendered, alert inner state.

Even if you understand that being affected by other people’s negativity is useless, still this behaviour may habitually arise in you, by itself. This is why I say do not take responsibility for your own reactions or feelings – only be responsible as a nonjudgemental witness of them as they come, stay, and go. Have no opinion of how you should be feeling when around these family members – and as a result you will be more surrendered and at peace, not fighting and fuelling any negativity inside your own self.

Obviously you can not control someone else’s negativity or opinions, and if you argue against it, you just make it worse. So you can use it to burn up any latent negativity inside yourself. With family members in particular, other people can trigger negativity inside you, or trigger shared negativity that exists within many members of the group - which you can then transcend using awareness and nonresistance (surrender/acceptance)

Give up any need to control your mother or grandmother, and don’t try to control your own feelings. Trying to control these things is like trying to cage a wild beast – the beast will get more upset and will fight even more. Surrender completely. If resistance and negativity arise in you, surrender to that, be a space for it all, let it be as it is. This is a far quicker way to peace than consulting the mind or thinking about anything.

To go a step further – the “me” that is upset by all of this - is also observed by you. You can be aware of this “upset me” as it arises – remain as the awareness.

All of the above may at first seem as if you are becoming weaker – but this is only the mind’s interpretation. If you let yourself be as you are – including any uncomfortable feelings, and you let other people be – then action or speech will happen more naturally, and less traumatically for you. You may find yourself not reacting at all to the outside negativity – almost as if it does not exist, or you may find yourself speaking or expressing yourself, but in a less argumentative way.  

Usually when people are negative around others, they are looking for a reaction or confirmation from someone else. Sometimes the negativity in them wants to create negativity in others. Giving someone else space to be, without mental judgement, is a great antidote for this. The negative one may get confused or upset – but you just continue to let them be, and you will do (or not do) whatever is needed.

The main thing to do is stay inside yourself. Stay as the witness of your inner state. Nonjudgementally watch the reactions arise in you. Be there as a witness only. Be aware of the story in the head that is formed around these family members –when you are with them and when you are not. Notice how the mind makes these people into concepts and judges and interprets their behaviour mentally. Drop this mental labelling as much as possible, and remain as a witness to it if it continues to arise.

When you give up all attempts to change the way you feel, and instead totally allow yourself to feel what you are feeling – then these feelings will gradually or suddenly be transformed into peace. Don’t take ownership of your thoughts and feelings.

Negative family members like this can actually be great spiritual teachers – if you approach them a certain way. They show you what you are still holding on to inside, what you react to, what the negative patterns inside you are - so that you can be aware of yourself as the untouched witness of it all.

Some of the unpleasantness you feel may also just be the energy field that emanates from these people, rather than only being the emotions that are triggered in you. All the above advice is useful to help with this.  

If you don’t involve yourself with negative energy, but let it be, it will not have anything to feed on inside you, and it will diminish.

Taking the above words into account – saying that their negativity puts you off being around them (or any other honest expression from you) – will arise spontaneously if it is needed, and will come more from love than aggression.

Thanks for your question, I hope that helps somehow. If you would like to ask anything else, you can just comment below.

All the best



If you found this article on negative family members was resonating with you, you might also enjoy my eBook "Undisturbed A Guide To Emotional Wellness" for more ways to deal with negativity within yourself or others...


Comments for How To Deal With Negative Family Members 

(from previous website)

Mar 17, 2014
by: Anonymous

Great advice. THANKYOU. Xx

Mar 19, 2014
Very welcome 
by: Adam -

Very welcome

Mar 22, 2014
by: Deborah

Hi Adam, I am also faced with this situation. I am doing everything you write here and it helps a lot, but I feel like I am thrown back into being a sulky teenager around my mother who is a very anxious person, negative and I find It hard to express love towards her and my father. I feel sullen instead of the joyful person I am when they are not around. I am observing all of this happening. But I want to feel joy around them, but comments or interference from them or my siblings makes me immediately defensive. How can I still be loving towards them faced with feelings of dislike?

Mar 22, 2014
Part 2 Above 
by: Adam -

Hi Deborah, thanks for your question. The response ended up being quite long, so I have made a separate page for it - click here to see it. Hope it helps, Adam.

Nov 14, 2014
by: Polly

My boyfriends father died 2 years ago. His mother is obviously still grieving and depends on him a lot. I feel she needs him to feel better and am worried about this dependence and the effect on him. Should I just let this take its course or say something. 

Nov 14, 2014
Response To Polly 
by: Adam -

Hi Polly. I don't know. You could do both. You could let it be as it is, but also express that you are concerned for your boyfriend. You do not have to go in with the intention of putting a stop to anything, but simply say how you feel. Just because you say something doesn't mean you have to try to stop or control anything. Talking things out with a partner is usually better in the long-term compared to always wanting to say something but holding back for some reason. Maybe some would disagree. Where is the harm in saying you are concerned about something, yet at the same time understanding the pain that the mother may be experiencing, and the duty that your boyfriend may feel to take care of her? 

Jan 29, 2015
Daughter, sister and son 
by: Cindy

My kids and sister are s constant heart break for me and i need help dealing with them. My sister has been addicted to drugs and alcohol for years. My daughter is 28 and drinks to excess and puts herself in dangerous situations. My son has panic atacks and cant leave his dads house without drinking. I feel helpless and angry. My husband has back pain and seldom leaves the bedroom. I feel like running away. 

May 12, 2015
Sharing my house with my sister and her husband 
by: Dania

Hi Adam

Really nice post

Me and my sister live in the same house as our husbands are brothers. I am much inclined towards spirituality but the only thing that keeps bugging me is them. I and my spouse do not usually bother much about other family and have a very super understanding. However, these two are financially dependent upon us and extremely negative. I m not saying they are bad people but they are extremely stupid and complain about everything all the time. I lose it with them but my husband says that they are our responsibility and that they would live with us forever. What do I do about it ? 

Her husband was a nice guy first but ever since she's with him he's the same as her

May 12, 2015
by: Adam -

Hi Dania, 

I don’t know what you can do. Specifics like this are tricky to answer since all I have to go on are the words you give me, and there is never a set series of actions that work best for any situation. 

All I would say: 

It’s fine if you lose it with them. Do you mean you shout at them, or do you mean you get annoyed and complain when they are not around? Either is fine, don’t judge yourself, let yourself feel however you feel. No use trying to be at peace with it all if there is a little inferno inside. Let the inferno spin, and see what happens. It may dissolve, or some action may arise. Don’t set yourself any ideal way to feel, and don’t interpret how you feel right now. 

You aren’t actually responsible for them are you? Surely that is not a fact, just a story. When it comes to things like this, if you resent them for depending on you for money, it must be spoken about. Have you spoken with them about it? It needn’t be a conflict, but just an honest expression : "This is how I feel and I can’t keep it from you any more". How they react is up to them, not you. 

I don’t know how this has all come about, what their circumstances are etc. But talking with them about it is surely an absolute necessity? I assume you have not spoken to them about it, since you did not mention it. 

You asked what to do about it, which implies there is an outcome you wish to get to. What is it? Do you want them out? Do you want them to stop being negative, or be more intelligent? 

Don’t feel it’s unspiritual to make basic demands of people who you are kind enough to offer a home, food and money to. If they don’t like it or can’t adjust, the alternative is to live elsewhere. I don’t even think that’s harsh, but they may react badly, because they know it’s true, they feel ashamed or something else, I don’t know. 

Living with people who do not fit in with your own harmony can be a challenge for sure, and notice that your thoughts about it create a great deal of trouble. This doesn’t mean you don’t talk to them, but notice how your interpretations, the stories of the mind, all create trouble, when they are just stories that do not help with anything. The mental stories just make you feel bad. 

Good luck. 

Of course you don’t HAVE to do anything. Be honest, and don’t give importance to someone else’s reflex defences and habitual negativity.

Aug 11, 2015
Grateful with this post 
by: Diandra

Thank you. I thought I'm hopeless with all negative members of my family, I don't know how to deal with it, now i know. Thanky you so much and all the best for you :)

Nov 30, 2015
This helps alot... 
by: Sarah

Thank you Adam for writing a response to this question. I thought I was becoming the bad one in giving my space and keeping my distance with my family. I already have a rough time trying to build a new relationship after I was verbally abused for so long in my childhood by my mom. The comments still prolong and nothing has changed in our relationship. I know I will never be close to my mother, but will always love her. In the past few years I have decided to keep my distance. I even moved 800 miles away just to be safe and sound. She visits every now and then, but I dread it at times knowing I will have to spend time with her just for two days. I know its horrible I say that, but the relationship we have isnt so good. Its extremely hard. Thank you for writing this though it helps alot to know Im not making the wrong choice in what Im doing.

Nov 30, 2015
by: Adam -

Thanks Sarah, glad it was helpful.

Feb 20, 2016
negative grandmother 
by: Cassandra

Hi Adam! So for years our family has had to put up with my grandmother she lies a lot and talks behind me and my other family members back constantly. Shes currently living with my uncle who is a captain on a boat and my little brother who she raised.She gets a retirement check and a social security check every month plus there is my uncles extra money so she just stays home all day and has nothing to do so her day consists of gossiping about people and constantly stalking family members facebook pages to see what their up every time I go she has something bad to say and constantly spreading negativity but since she doesn't have friends and my uncle is working all the time or a lot of family members that want to be around her she almost wants me to be there every day especially now since im not currently working because I am close to my due date in pregnancy and my husband and I just moved back to Louisiana after being in Idaho for 10 months . I can't just stop talking to her because she has helped me a lot after my dad passed away and shes been buying a lot of stuff for my baby and even throwing my baby shower at her house but every time Im around her its like her negativity just rubs off on me and going visit her becomes like a chore and every time im there I just want to tell her to stop being so judgmental and stop talking bad about can I make visits with her less irritating and remain positive? It would mean the world for your advice thank you.

Mar 01, 2016
negative auras 

hi.the information given in the site is very empowering.especially about- no one can steal your energy.i live with a very negative mother who has a bad aura.she constantly thinks of me.i get blank when im near her or i start to thinking of moving out.i have to live with her just for a few months till i go for further education.i think i could take this as a practice for further situations in an empath and have many abilities.i have stopped using them because of overwhelming feeling that i get.i need to know how do i cope up with the punches in my solar plexus and behaviour changes and there is constant mental grandmother is even more negative.she has ability to read people at distances.she reads me all the time which causes more harm emotionally.i have to go to study in an environment that is very draining and exhausting too. So please tell me what to do ,how to keep my energy mine and not get effected by other's energies.thankyou

Mar 02, 2016
Don't know what to do 
by: Flo

Brilliant post. My problem is, I have an older step-daughter who doesn't live with us, she lives with her mother. We have always got on, well when she was growing up anyway. She used to hat going back at the end of every weekend. Now she can drive, she never contacts us and never see's us! We have tried to meet for meals, invite her over but she very rarely comes over and is very nasty to my husband and I, we don't know what has happened to make her change and she won't discuss anything with us. I have given her space, which I thought was the right thing to do, but she has stopped all contact with us. Do you have any ideas how we can deal with this. She doesn't answer calls or texts. 

Mar 04, 2016
by: Adam -

Cassandra's response can be found here:

On the negative auras question, you have to stop taking people so seriously. That might help. Their power comes from you, you give it to them by taking all of their moods and actions and thoughts to be real. They are all passing, keep your attention within yourself, don't take other's reactions so seriously. See yourself protected by light, a surrounding shield of light that transmutes negativity into itself and makes itself brighter each time. 

In response to Flo, unless you have already asked her directly what it is that makes her feel she wants to keep her distance - if you have already asked her that, then I don't think there is anything you can do. You can't make her come to see you, you can't make her want to be around you or someone else. You mentioned you gave her space, and perhaps you did physically. But did you emotionally, psychologically? Were there periods where you were not thinking or worrying about her? Sometimes we think we are giving people space, but really we aren't, because we still hold them accountable to the concepts we hold about them, who we believe them to be. You may feel a strong resistance to this, as if giving her space, letting her go in your own mind would be completely the wrong thing to do, careless, irresponsible, or something that would make you a bad mother, but give it some room. Just experiment. See if you are believing certain thoughts, certain negativities that are arising. Are you sure that what you are believing is definitely true? Is there any use in holding on to any negativity? 

I can't fix it for you. Maybe you can't either. But, there will definitely be a shift in energy if you cease to worry or expect things from her. And that can create change, by itself.

Mar 10, 2016
Negative family members
by: Donna

I am dealing with ivf. My first ivf was not successful ever since I told my family all I could hear was no not now who is going to help you we can't help you. Who will work for you. When I got my negative result I almost saw a relief in my mums and aunt faces. My dad was upset. He wanted this to work. Now we are planing our new ivf cycle and I don't want them to know. The only thing is it costs a lot of money and my dad said he would help me out. Of course my dear mum and aunt think it's a waste of money and I should not and save the money for my sisters children. How can I continue knowing I do not have the support from the one who gave birth to me? 

May 22, 2016
Thank you

This is beautiful 

Jun 08, 2016
Emotional abuse 
by: Stef rox

For the longest time my little sister has been jealous of me
I am skinnier prettier,but thats just the start of when we where kids. 
I am extreamly happliy married,saved money and worked hard, bought my first home and had my first child. 
My life is peaking!!-and ive never been happier. 
My little sister as I mentioned before she iz my step sisted the product of my mothers recent boyfriend. 
She got pregant when I was to steal my thunder and haz since up stage me on everything. 
I dont care so much as im happy in my own world but it botherz me when my parents choose her instead. 
I had a falling out with them (my parents) they where babysitting and had asked not to take my child.near or around my step sister ad i feel etreamly unconfortable around her. 
My mother flat out refused and said she has a right too. 
I feel other wise.. Id u feel abuse weather emotional or.physical this is a respect thinh. 
My feeling where hurt I felt my mother didnt care about my feeling towards this person and had put my daughter in what i seen as damger. 
I was betrayed! 
My jealous evil sister has manipulated my tears and feelings into spreading rumours i have post pardum de i actually just have people that dont respect my feelings. 
I feel as if she is trying anything to knock me off my peak. 
Like i said earlier ive never been so happy with my life
This had fuded a big issue and my parents have sided with her believing anything she says (they actually have depression) 
I have never in my life had so much negitivy and spitefull family members I get over this betrayal as i have been now abanded by my mother 

Jun 10, 2016
Stef response 
by: Adam -

To get over it, you basically accept it. But this might feel impossible, or intolerable, because it would mean that you are no longer separating yourself from the situation or making yourself into a victim. It might also at first feel as if you are being weak. 

If it has happened and you can't change it, then what else is there to do? We think it is normal to hold on to resentment and hostility, because we think this will help to change things into how we want them to be, but are these things serving you anymore? 

If you feel as if this has all been an attempt to knock you off your peak, then as long as you resist it, it is working. It is keeping you down if you are resisting the situation. See that the resistance to all of it has not fixed any of it. The resistance is what makes you suffer, but it also makes you feel as if you are as separate entity, which does have a kind of painful pleasure to it. 

With that said, if you still feel traumatised, allow yourself to feel that way, don't make complaints or try to make the feelings go away. Experiment. let the feelings be there. Also see that these feelings come up from within you, and that no one has given them to you. There will likely be a story that the way you are feeling is someone else's fault, but has anyone actually given you these painful emotions? 

Hope that can help, 


Jun 14, 2016
verbal abuse 
by: cindy

I recently took my alcoholic brother's bike to the bike shop. the owner told me it was trashed and needed to be thrown away. so I did. I assumed he told my mom and brother what happened to it. so I start getting nasty phone calls from my mom about it. I left a note for my brother telling him not to ask me to do anything else for him. m tired of their complaining about everything. I have helped both of them out for years. I also found him another bike to replace it. I am tire of always being treated like the bad guy. I found people to paint my mom's house and all my brother and mom did was complain about it.nothing I do suits them. now my mom is saying that she does not want me to do anything for her

Jun 15, 2016
by: Adam -

...then maybe she is saving you some work?

It can also be helpful to perhaps see it from the other's point of view. To have a possession thrown away without your consent can sometimes feel hurtful, even if it can not be salvaged. 

You don't have to take it so personally, experiment with letting them feel exactly how they want to feel about anything you have helped out with. And then, after being told that your help is no longer required, you can rest, or do something else. 


Jun 16, 2016
Thanks for your guidance 
by: Ray

I think that I am a very successful person. However everything I did in my life, I was criticised by my parents, especially my mother, my wife, my in-laws etc. I sometimes felt that they are simply jealous of me. 
I always forgive them. I also try to make a space for myself, happy with my own hobbies, like reading etc. But these jealous people always try to invade into my space and disturb my peace. 
My greatest fear is if my daughter also becomes one of them. That will be a disaster. 

Aug 23, 2016
Thank you! NEW
by: Georgie

I feel better already by knowing that I am not the only one with negative family members! I have literally fallen asleep before on the phone while trying to drown out the negative noise from my mom. When we get on the phone she typically talks for at least an hour and I can hardly get a word in, and it is all negative - either about how she didn't get what she deserved, how poorly treated she is, how somebody hates her or just gossip about other people. I don't talk to my sister over the phone much, but she is the same way. They live next door to each other and they feed off of each other to make matters worse. My dad died and my sister is divorced so they don't have anyone else. As much as I try to change the subject, it always ends back to the negativity so I've stopped trying to change it. I just say "yes" and "uh huh" and kind of ignore the whole conversation other than just to be there to "listen." I've always tried to stay away from negative people, but when it's your family it is a different situation. Thank you so much for addressing this topic and giving us some insight!! 

Aug 24, 2016
Georgie NEW
by: Adam -

Thanks Georgie, you're welcome.