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Home Problems

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I really want to run away from home (I’m 18 yo) because of my toxic family. I really feel like I’m on the edge from just going insane because I feel helpless/hopeless. I’m someone who is forced to be isolated and I have low self-esteem/poor confidence from what I believe is emotional abuse from my childhood. The people I live with are belittling and make me feel bad about myself. They’re the reason I have low self-esteem issues and I feel worthless/incapable. I want to defend myself but I don’t know how to cause I’m scared to and I’m honestly not used to defending myself. It’s even come to the place where I might have to physically defend myself. Can you please advise me on what I should do to build my confidence and courage so I can stand up for myself? What should I do about wanting to run away from home even though I have nowhere to go, but sometimes home really makes me want to snap? (From the USA)

Home Problems

Answered by on -


Thank you for writing to us. In spite of all their belittling and emotional abuse there is an invincible and unbelievably strong part of you that had the courage to write this email. The part of you that knows the situation you’re in isn’t healthy and has your best interest at heart is the part we want to honor. Don’t let go of this feeling of the need to take care of yourself. It may be difficult, but it is the healthiest part of you and we want to recognize that it is alive and well and needs to be nurtured.

You need to plan. A plan for your independence and living out and away from your dysfunctional families influence. The work for you right now is to look at your options. Whatever they are they need to lead you out and away from this house. Look at all possibilities. Perhaps it is time to join the Armed Forces, go back to school, or take a job where you can live more independently out and away from your family. The first part of the plan is to deeply investigate what are your options. The second part will be to act on them.

The sooner you can do this the better, but give yourself a deadline. Will it be three months? Six months? A year? You need to motivate yourself toward the goal of getting out by making that the most important goal in front of you.

One of the most effective forms of goal setting comes from what is known as S-M-A-R-T Goals. This acronym stands for Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, Timely. I am advocating for you to start planning goals for yourself that use this formula.

The feeling of wanting to run away from home is a powerful one, but usually people who run don’t have a good enough plan to sustain themselves. If we are using the above method the first thing is to begin with a specific goal in mind. It could be to move out, it could be to save two thousand dollars, it might be to contact the woman’s shelter in your county for counseling. Whatever the goal make it clear and specific.

Secondly, make sure this goal is measurable. A goal that says “I don’t want this to keep happening” is neither specific nor measurable. A goal that says I want to move out within a year and save 40 dollars a week so I can pay the deposit and the first month’s rent is both specific AND measurable.

To make a goal actionable means you need to be able to do something toward it. The action, in this case, might be to get a job, or open up a savings account, or start looking at the cost of apartments or start talking to people who have done it. Goals must be something we are taking action on to achieve.

The realistic part is essential. You don’t want to establish a goal like: “I’m moving into my own apartment next week,” if there isn’t any resources or opportunity for that to happen. Of course, what is realistic is something that can change one way or another with a shift in circumstances, but when you establish the goal make it one you can reach.

Finally, pick a timeline that is reasonable and can keep you motivated. “I want to move out within ten years,” won’t help. A goal that is too quick would lead to failure and defeat. Make the goal something you’ll have to stretch for but not something that robs you of the engagement necessary to stay motivated to achieve it.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

Home Problems

Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

Dan Tomasulo Ph.D., TEP, MFA, MAPP teaches Positive Psychology in the graduate program of Counseling and Clinical Psychology at Columbia University, Teachers College and works with Martin Seligman, the Father of Positive Psychology in the Masters of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program at the University of Pennsylvania. He is Director of the New York Certification in Positive Psychology for the Open Center in New York City and on faculty at New Jersey City University. Sharecare has honored him as one of the top 10 online influencers on the topic of depression. For more information go to: He also writes for Psych Central's Ask the Therapist column and the Proof Positive blog.

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2019). Home Problems. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 1, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 3 Jun 2019 (Originally: 4 Jun 2019)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 3 Jun 2019
Published on Psych All rights reserved.