Overcoming Your Difficult Family by Eric Maisel

Overcoming Your Difficult Family by Eric Maisel

It is often said that we can choose our friends but not our families – which is a bit of a pity given that we have, for better or worse, such a intricate and complex relationship with them.

In his book Overcoming Your Difficult Family retired family therapist Eric Maisel tackles many of the problematic aspects to family life and offers eight specific skills tailored to help his readers deal with even the most challenging relationships.

He also highlights several common types of dysfunctional family structures as well as offering techniques for finding and maintaining a sense of inner peace throughout.


In his book Maisel offers alternative options to conflict through something he calls your ‘Eight-Skills Toolkit’. With them at your disposal it becomes possible at any time to deal effectively with most challenging family situations.

In Part one of his book, he identifies them as:

  • Being Smart
  • Being Strong
  • Being Calm
  • Being Clear
  • Being Aware
  • Being Brave
  • Being Present
  • Being Resilient

A chapter is dedicated to each tool along with a short questionnaire to help the reader apply the wisdom inherent within each one.

In part two the author describes ten typical family set-ups or constructs that can typically be found within our modern society. These range from bullying and critical families through to those that are simply overly dramatic and downright chaotic.

Finally, the author offers twelve tips for better emotional and mental health for, as his points out

“You need to employ every tool of your tool kit to keep hope alive, to relieve your frustrations, and to stand undefeated,”

And who of us can say we have never been there!

Our Review of Overcoming Your Difficult Family by Eric Maisel

This is a no nonsense — roll up your sleeves and get the job done, kind of book.

Maisel does a great job in presenting a clear exposition of the many deeply and challenging issues that invariably grow within the heart of family structures — often over several generations, and offers the specific tools needed to counteract their personal impact upon those who are damaged by the frictional dynamics.

And for that the book works supremely well. In truth though, you would probably not consider buying a copy unless you had some family crisis to deal with and were probably at your wits end trying to deal with it. In this sort of situation you want answers — and for the sake of your own sanity, you want them fast. If so then her’s the book to give them to you.

However, it should be stated, this is a publication about coping with a family’s key traumas and not a book about resolving them as such. Maybe some problems or issues, whilst they are in your family, lie outside of your jurisdiction — if so then this book will, I am sure, fill your needs admirably.

Overcoming Your Difficult Family offers a thoroughly self-empowering approach to a problem that sadly very few of us will be able to avoid in our lifetime. I hope you don’t need a copy of this book but if you do then I am sure you will find it to be an invaluable asset.