The Type Of Baggage You Shouldn't Have To Carry From Toxic Family Members, According To Experts

Do not carry this weight on your shoulders from problematic family members.

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As adults, if we dig just beneath the surface, we might find a ton of baggage left behind by toxic members of our own family.

Maybe it’s a lack of attention that you received as a child or abuse at the hands of someone you trusted, but whatever it is, it’s a burden that you carry around throughout your life weighing you down.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. In an ideal situation, the baggage would be addressed, an apology issued, and an agreement made to move on with life, with or without the family member that caused your trauma.


There are, however, some types of baggage you should not have to carry from your past. Three YourTango experts have revealed what those are below.

RELATED: 20 Signs You're An Extremely Toxic Person & Are Difficult To Be Around

Here is the type of baggage you shouldn't have to carry from toxic family members, according to experts:

1. The responsibility for ‘fixing’ your family

“As a psychologist, the heaviest baggage I find my patients from toxic family members carrying is the feeling that they must fix their family.  

The good news is that it takes a certain amount of emotional distance to see one’s family as toxic, to see how your family’s approach to certain challenges is essentially self-defeating. This distance can create an opportunity to understand why your family approaches life in this way, freeing you to try a different path. Good! 


But even if your family feels toxic, this doesn’t mean that they don’t love them. Let’s face it, most love their family, warts, and all.  And here is the bind: You see someone you love struggling and you know there’s a different way, but this can also be a trap because then you may be tempted to try to rescue them. 

It’s important to remember that it is not your job to fix your family.  It is equally important to realize that you can live a different life than the one you see family members following, even if this creates distance between you and your family. The gift in this approach is that by embracing living a less problematic life, you can provide other family members with an alternative to do the same.    

~ Patricia Gorman, Ph.D., Psychologist & Life Coach 

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2. The shame of the past

“I coach a lot of writers and artists, and I’ve found that often when they are blocked, it stems back to their childhood, a version of ancestral blaming and shaming. This kind of toxic shame is passed down from generation to generation and is just as damaging as any physical illness that a family tree may carry in its DNA. It produces a shame-based block that shows up when a novelist gets too close to “hidden truths and reveals” or a memoirist has written a beautiful book that they don’t want to publish because they fear it “might hurt some feelings.”

Even if you’re not creative, this kind of toxic trauma can lead to career dead ends and relationship problems. I advise my clients to carry the love and sweet memories from childhood along with them, but to leave the burdens their parents made them carry (whatever they may be) at their parents’ doorstep or release them into a work of art and be done with it. To proverbially close the book and move on.” 

~ Kathryn Ramsperger, Author, Coach, Speaker

RELATED: 4 Striking Signs You’re Dealing With A Dangerously Toxic Person


3. The blame for the actions and feelings of others

“You are fully responsible for other people’s feelings and behaviors. Often in toxic family systems, there is a displacement of responsibility for the well-being of each member. If you are continually blamed for making people in your family feel bad or act in unhealthy ways (e.g., drink, yell, or be constantly angry), you don’t want to bring that into your other relationships.

You are responsible for maintaining peace in your relationships. If you were always a peacemaker in a dysfunctional family system, you may struggle with conflict in your current adult relationship— which won't serve you well in the long run.

It's not safe to be yourself. If you learned that you would be put down, ostracized, or harmed when you honestly shared your feelings, thoughts, and opinions, it may be hard to be authentic and grounded as you age.


Learnings from toxic family systems can make having safe, close intimate relationships with others as we age. Working through unhelpful learnings to build self-esteem and make choices from an honest, empowered place is key to not recreating early childhood learnings in our adult relationships.”

~ Dr. Cortney S. Warren, Ph.D., ABPP

RELATED: 10 Signs You — Not Him — Are The Toxic One In The Relationship

NyRee Ausler is a writer who covers lifestyle, relationship, and human-interest stories that readers can relate to and that bring social issues to the forefront for discussion.