How to Get Along with Family When You Don’t Fit In

Don’t adjust yourself to fit in; be yourself and allow others to be themselves.

Trying to get along with your family when you don’t fit in is like (pardon the cliché) struggling to fit a round peg into a square hole; it doesn’t work. You can’t force family members to see life through your eyes and you can’t pretend to relate without shrinking, bending or twisting yourself like a balloon animal.

There’s a part of us that yearns to belong; to be a part of the pack, a member of the tribe. We can create our own families and circle of friends, and connect so deeply to our soul and the God of our heart that we never feel alone, but still, we may have the urge to attend family gatherings. Perhaps this stems from loyalty, childhood bonding, or a programmed message that says “blood is thicker than water.” Whatever the case, here are several tips for how to get along with family when you don’t fit in.

Find amusement. Instead of groaning when your mother talks endlessly about trivial items, or being defensive when your brother criticizes your lifestyle, or getting frustrated at family members’ inability to understand your point of view, find amusement in their antics. Sit back and view them as though you are watching a comedy. Perhaps it’s a dark twisted comedy, a bizarre tale, or a scene filled with slapstick humor. Enjoy the entertainment.

Don’t take things personally. Each person creates their own dream (or nightmare) of their life. Whatever they do or say is more about them than you, so don’t take their words or actions personally. Have compassion for their weaknesses and appreciate their strengths. This will support you to find enjoyment in their presence.

Look for common ground. Underneath appearances and perspectives are common needs and values shared between many people. You may seem to be very different from your siblings, but perhaps you share basic values such as honesty, creativity or adventure. Explore the areas that you have in common with family members and initiate conversations in that direction.

Communicate from your heart and soul. Step out of your analyzer and move into your heart and soul as you listen and speak to your family members. Let go of judgments and connect on a deeper level to your parents and siblings. As you look into their eyes, see the spirit within. As you speak, connect with your heart and speak your truth. This will help you to get along with family and feel that you fit in on another level.

Be authentic. Honor your and your family members’ uniqueness. Don’t adjust yourself to fit in; be yourself and allow others to be themselves. Be real and authentic, expressing your views and insights in a non-pressured, non-defensive manner. Touch into the freedom and lightness of your true self and allow that to shine forth at family gatherings.

Do you have any questions, examples or other tips for how to get along with family when you don’t fit in? Please share below.

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Dear Readers,

I am not able to be on the computer much these days due to my current activities, so I won't be able to respond to comments very often.

I encourage you though, to use the comment section as a place to share your experience, read about others' and to respond to and support each other with your situations.

Take care,

Gini

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13 Responses to How to Get Along with Family When You Don’t Fit In

  1. unconvinced says:

    but what if the fam consists of alcoholics? constant figthing/crisis?

  2. Gini Grey says:

    Hello,

    If there is alcholism and constant fighting and crisis in your family it is much more than just not fitting in – it’s a seriously dysfunctional family situation and the above tips may not make any difference.

    Sorry to hear that this is your situation – it must be painful to interact with family under those circumstances. You may need to set boundaries around when and who you visit – perhaps individual visits when there is no alcohol involved. It may mean not attending group gatherings. I know how challenging it is do to that though as the rest of your family may not understand – but it’s important to honor your health and wellbeing.

    Take care,

    Gini

  3. Gini Grey says:

    I just posted a new article to deal with the above question: How to Handle Dysfunctional Family Members. Hope it helps:) Gini

  4. Susan says:

    The information in this article is very good, to a point. One thing remains that I find cannot be rectified.
    When a family ostracizes or ‘shuns’ you by not including you except through a sense of obligation on traditional holidays, a person can suffer great psychological damage over the course of their lifetime.
    I come from a family that uses this technique of shunning in a passive-aggressive manner. You are invited, but not part of the elite group; no ‘mistakes’ or blunders in their lives, they esteem themselves above you in every way.
    My situation is that my only son who has Klinefelter’s Syndrome and has had a rough life emotionally and myself are considered black sheep. We aren’t as successful as the others, we traveled a path that does not fit in with their social circle. We are only contacted on special occasions out of obligation. It’s the phoniest and most hurtful atmosphere every single time. It never fails to bring a bout of tears after each ‘celebration’. Days of depression for both us always follow, but we keep going back, hoping for a miracle.

    Sad that people judge so much. Forgiveness is hard to come by anymore. As a mother, the pain I feel for my dear son is immeasurable. He suffers the most. I have come to despise my family.

  5. Gini Grey says:

    Hello Susan,

    The situation with your family does sound very painful. While I know their is an instinctual desire to be close with our family of origin, I think in cases such as yours it’s much healthier to break the ties and focus on your own family (children) and create new family through friends.

    But I also think it’s helpful to somehow, somewhere within, find forgiveness (maybe just compassion for what your family misses out on in life being so hard hearted) as a way to free yourself and support your son to not be affected by their judgments.

    I believe that with every situation in life there is an important lesson – even if it’s just about setting boundaries – that we can see if we look at the bigger picture. Something I sense with you and your son is that you are much freer in heart and soul than your family and perhaps they are secretly jeaulous of this (why else would someone put another down unless they feel less-than deep within).

    Being the ‘black sheep’ of the family may be a godsend in the sense that you haven’t matched your family’s way of being but have found your own truth in life.

    I hope you and your son find peace, forgiveness and healing in your hearts.

    Take care,

    Gini

  6. Bella says:

    Hey,
    I feel like I don’t fit in around my family. I am always being told that I have done something wrong and I and always feeling left out. Can you help me by giving my some points on how to feel like I am apart of this family. Or can you please give me some tips on what I need to do.

    Bella
    xx

  7. Gini Grey says:

    Hello Bella,

    Over the years what I’ve discovered is that as we learn to feel wonderful about ourselves no matter what others think, say or do in regards to us, overtime others start to respect us more or we choose not to spend so much time with them.

    In every area where you feel hurt, wrong, left out etc. due to your family’s behavior and reactions toward you, take some time alone to feel those feelings and see that they are not true reflections of who you are at the core of your being. If you touch into a childhood memory of being wounded, take time to imagine speaking to and nurturing your inner child until she feels loved, approved of and wonderful. Remember there is nothing ‘wrong’ with you – you are perfect as you are and will continue to grow and evolve – every stage of our lives is perfect where we are.

    In the meantime, you might want to spend less time with family who don’t treat you appropriately or you might share with them how their comments and behaviors affect you (although they may not be able to hear you if they are feeling judgmental or defensive).

    It also may be that you don’t fit in with your family as you are more evolved – on a soul level I believe we come into families to heal certain issues and then if we don’t resonate with them anymore, it’s time to move on. Just because they are family doesn’t mean we have to hang out with them.

    Hope this helps,

    Gini

  8. Deb says:

    Hello , I’m the black sheep of the family. I have two half sisters and one half brother . We have the same mother but diffrent fathers. I’m the youngest. They do not understand me at all. they find very sneaky ways to put me down. i have found out from my counselor that im that scapegoat of the family. When i was a child my mother made me the scape goat for all the problems in the family.because her first husband drink and so did my father. the last i was with my childhood family i really didnt enjoy myself at all. I was so upset after seeing them that i broke out with shingles ,very painful. my brother didnt want to see me but was pretending me did. but he was very underhanded about it. he’s very arrogant and trys to get the last word all the time. allways wants to be the know it all. he’s the oldest. My oldest half sister never tryed to get to know my kids at all. she will not call me on the phone to see how im doing . she only calls to tell me if someone has died in the family and sometimes she doesnt even do that. She will not come to my home to see me ,but i have to go to hers. when it would be easier for her to see me. i have told them how i was the scapegoat of the family and how my mother was abusive to me emotional and very controlling. no one said any thing just sit their and said oh she wasnt that way to us, I cound go on for ever . so i give up !!! any one got comments about this??

  9. Gini Grey says:

    Hello Deb,

    Family of orgin roles are so interesting – we all play one of the them, and each has it’s pros and cons. Your family won’t see things the way you do as you are a unique person with your own experiences and perspectives – plus they may not be ready to see the truth! But given that you are, then you are probably also ready to let the role go.

    While you can’t stop others from seeing you in this role, you can stop getting caught in behaviors, reactions, or feeling wounded about being put into it. When you get together with family, try on a different role. Be an actor and play the responsible one for a day, or the cute mascot, or whatever you are drawn to and have fun with it.

    As you nurture your wounds and inner child from being abused, love yourself in the present moment, you will heal from the past and not be affected by it in the present. Then you won’t be upset by how your family doesn’t take a more active role in your life etc. You will feel bigger than all that and not mind anymore.

    Take care,

    Gini

  10. Sheri says:

    I don’t get along with my parents and my aunt. They are all gossipers, complainers, narcissists. They talk bad about me because I don’t bow down to them but they themselves are negative people. I don’t hang around negative people so I avoid them as much as possible. Just because they are family doesn’t mean you have to be in the same room as people you are uncomfortable with. Be around people you are comfortable with and who raise you up.

  11. Tushara says:

    I come from a thoroughly broken, hastily patched up and irregular family where half sisters, step siblings, step parents and real parents play a significant role. What do I do if some of the above mentioned people do not even pretend to understand and love me? They practice very unpleasant things like revenge, lying and dominance that I do not think are very “family-like”. Some of them do not even want to talk to me because they think I’m just a child and should “respect” them. It frustrates me and I’m not sure what I should do….

  12. Gini Grey says:

    Hello Tushara,,

    Your family situation sounds very challenging. One thing to help relieve your frustration would be to let go of any expectations of your family members to be different than they are. It is sad how they treat you, but the less you want them to be different, the less triggered you wil be.

    One way to support this perspective is to look for what underlies their behavior. Anyone who behaves the way you explained must have some strong wounds, insecurites, low self-esteem or childhood neglect/abuse issues. They may be competing for the love and attention of the parents and view you as a threat or competition somehow. If you can see their underlying wounds, this will bring out compassion in you and you will see they are acting out of their own ‘stuff’ and you won’t take it personally.

    If you can set healthy boundaries when around them – i.e. don’t particpate in unsupportive conversations, don’t get caught in competion, proving yourself, right and wrong arguments etc., just leave the room, or use humor to shift the mood, or just watch as a spectator without judment, this will help you to feel more empowered around them.

    Take care,

    Gini

  13. Susie knowles says:

    Advice? I am one of 3 children, I am the oldest and the only girl. Me, my parents, and my siblings all live a few hundred yards away from each other ( my parents own a lot of land and we all built homes on it.) I am by far the most successful in life and career out of us 3, I am financially secure and extremely independent, married with 1 child. My parents still have to help financially with my 2 brothers ( one is married the other is only 18.).. They all have the same beliefs in life, religion, and politics.. I do not share there beliefs.. They are extremists in a lot of ways and have a very closed mind. So I am the outcast. They all always go out to eat together and go places together and it’s like I don’t exist.. They only invite me when my brothers can’t go which is hardly ever… I don’t understand. Anytime my parents need help with anything I’m the one they call, I’m the one they trust with responsibilities and life and health related questions, but I’m not the one the prefer to be around I’m not included … It’s very hard to deal with since we live so close

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