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There is no longer any denying it: our parents and the way they raised us and the way they behave around us have a lasting impact on our lives as a whole. If we are raised by good and loving parents, we have a real chance of leading happy lives, but if our parents are toxic, we can end up enduring much turmoil.

It’s a sad fact. And we cannot change who our parents are. There’s no skirting around the facts, and if your parents are toxic, my heart goes out to you. But, while you cannot change who your parents are, you can change how you move forward by accepting that fact. And accepting that your parents are toxic is the first step in the battle toward finding mental and emotional freedom.

Here are four things you need to remember if you have toxic parents.

1. You are NOT your parents.

Just because your parents are toxic does not mean that you are going to be toxic or have to fall into that role. While our parents do impact us, we always have the power of choice to become better than they were. And the good news is the vast majority of people I know who realize their parents are toxic willingly chose to grow beyond their parent’s bad behaviors.

2. You do not have to put up with your parents.

While we all love our parents and want the best for them, if your parents are toxic and hurtful to you, you do NOT have to tolerate it. On the contrary, at any given moment you can establish boundaries and if they continue to run over them, you have every right to create space and hold it for them until they choose to treat you like a human being.

3. Boundaries are EVERYTHING.

Boundaries are so important, especially with toxic relationships. Boundaries are like invisible little lines between our feelings and the behaviors of others. When someone is hurtful and abusive, it is up to you to protect yourself by establishing boundaries.

4. You are a survivor, not a victim.

Above all, you are not a victim. You have survived so much, and you can survive anything that comes your way. You didn’t deserve what happened to you, and you still don’t deserve to be abused or disrespected.