Previously, I wrote a post on how to survive being the black sheep of the family.
With lots of shares and some thought-provoking comments my earlier post seemed to resonate with people.
In this post, I want to take a more in-depth look at being the black sheep of the family.
Forget about merely surviving, we want to do much more than that – it’s time to thrive!
In case you didn’t read the earlier post being the black sheep in this context means being different, it means being the odd person out.
Let’s look at ways the black sheep of the family can survive and thrive.
Don’t try to be a square peg in a round hole
You may have read the original post and thought to yourself – I don’t want to be the black sheep of the family, I am going to make myself fit in.
Fitting a square peg into a round hole means compromising who you are, it means pretending to be something you are not.
Pretending is ultimately the road to misery.
You might be able to keep it up for a while, let’s face it some people can pretend for a very long time but the price you pay will be your own happiness. Over time you will most likely become resentful and bitter that you are living someone else’s life instead of your own.
Don’t do it. Don’t pretend to be someone you are not.
Don’t compare yourself to a popular sibling
I haven’t experienced this myself but I have seen it happen in other families. One sibling is more popular (generally because they fit in more with other family members) and the black sheep constantly compares themselves to them.
This is one of the ways sibling rivalry gets started. You start comparing yourself and you feel you come up short. You grow resentful and you start competing to get in someone’s good books.
Just reading that last sentence sounds exhausting to me! Don’t compare yourself and compete with other people.
You might end up ‘winning’ but find out what you won isn’t what you wanted at all.
Frankly being popular is overrated. It doesn’t mean you are happy and it doesn’t mean you are a nice person.
Related post – 14 Ways to Deal with Being Compared to Someone Else (This is a must read if someone is comparing you to someone else)
Don’t let people gang up on you
A few people mentioned this in the comments on the earlier post.
Family gatherings can unfortunately be full of bullying, teasing and abusive behavior.
If your family is abusive towards you I would let them know this behavior is not acceptable, then I’d stay away from them until they cease the behavior. If you can’t stay away from them completely, at least limit contact.
I know a lot of people might not agree with this advice, some people believe we have to work things out with our family no matter what. I disagree.
We might love them but we don’t have to put up with their abusive crap.
Years ago I spent a lot of time with one of my boyfriend’s family. They were lovely people except for one small factor. They had a habit of teasing the new person in the group. As it turned out that was me.
Being young and immature, I had no idea how to stand up for myself. I let it pass mainly because they were so lovely in many other ways, but I would take a different view on that sort of treatment now.
As the black sheep of the family you can be a beacon of light for any newcomers or outsiders to the family by showing them kindness, understanding and support.
Related post – How to Survive Being the Black Sheep of the Family at Christmas (This post was originally written with Christmas in mind, but it applies to any family gathering)
Ditch the guilt
For a long time I was a walking, talking pile of guilt.
When you are filled with guilt it is much easier for people to manipulate or intimidate you.
Being the black sheep of the family can make you feel intimidated enough, without throwing guilt into the mix.
So what did I feel guilty about? Being born. Being adopted I felt I was responsible for ruining lives – the first being my biological mother who gave me up for adoption and the other my Mum who stayed in an unhappy marriage for the sake of the children.
It wasn’t until I got older and wiser that I let this guilt go. Both women made their own decisions.
I was not responsible for their choices.
Be responsible for your own choices but don’t take on other people’s, no matter who they are.
The less guilt you carry in life, the happier you will be.
Related post – Stop Using Guilt to Get What You Want
Take on a leadership role
Perhaps there is a way you can use being the black sheep as a leadership role in your family?
I will use myself as an example. Being a person who loves travel, I have a lot to share with my niece and nephew about the countries, people and cultures I have experienced.
This leadership role could extend across many areas of your life from career, business, health, fitness, travel and much more.
This isn’t about trying to get people to think the way you do or trying to force them to change their lifestyle, it’s merely a chance to highlight other options and experiences available.
Embrace the benefits of being different
Okay so you’re different from the rest of your clan. No problem.
How are you making that work to your advantage? How are you using your differences to enhance your life?
Are you maximizing opportunities that come your way? Do you have more opportunities to travel widely, socialize, volunteer or work on your career than other people in your family have? Do you have the freedom to sit all day and read a book without being interrupted if you want to?
The list is endless. The point is are you making the most of whatever lifestyle you choose? Are you maximizing the benefits instead of worrying what other people are doing?
Make your differences work for you. Embrace being the black sheep of the family.
Remember the similarities
With all of this differentiation going on, we need to remember what’s important and what we have in common.
When my Mum was told she had breast cancer last year nothing was more important than my family rallying together to get her through the operation and treatment.
There are crucial times in life (unfortunately often attached to illness and tragedy) where you are reminded just how much you have in common.
Live your best life, no matter what color sheep you are!
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Make sure you check out my original post – How to Survive Being the Black Sheep of the Family