7. They don’t know about your career
Your family doesn’t know much about your career. You don’t inform them about how well you’re doing or how badly you’re struggling. Even if you are looking to change your job or planning to start your own business, you don’t feel there is anything to tell.
8. You want to be admired
Even though your romantic partner, friends, associates, and coworkers tell you how talented, intelligent, and amazing you are, you seek the same level of admiration from your parents & siblings.
9. You are ridiculed
Your family members often ridicule you or criticize you in front of others. This can be either in a rather subtle manner or in an outright aggressive way. They tell you directly that you don’t belong in the family. Moreover, they stop inviting you over for events or don’t inform you anything about the family.
10. You hide the real you
You definitely don’t want to talk about your sexual orientation or your unique perspectives as you just know they simply wouldn’t accept it. You feel it’s better to hide the real you from them and let them think what they want about you.
All the experiences and feelings associated with marginalization can be severely emotionally damaging and traumatizing. This can directly affect your self-esteem and sense of self-worth leaving you feeling abandoned, neglected, and lonely. But you need to remember that the trauma can end only when healing begins.
Coping with marginalization
While being the black sheep in the family will be difficult and different for most of us, however, almost all of us have learned to deal with the pain that comes from being a black sheep in our own unique way. Psychotherapist Annie Wright says that our own unique coping strategies and mechanism will serve us “extremely well just to survive and make it through that experience of being rejected, misunderstood, or feeling ‘other’.”
According to a 2016 study by Elizabeth Dorrance Hall Ph.D. “people living at the edge of their familial group as marginalized members (i.e. black sheep)” find multiple and personalized ways to become more resilient. Elizabeth explains “Recent research identified five ways black sheep stay resilient despite their stressful position in the family. Resilience is all about adapting, moving forward, and coping with marginalization without ignoring or forgetting about one’s negative family experiences.”
Here are the 5 coping strategies discovered by the research conducted by Dorrance Hall:
1. Rely on your communication networks for support
Although black sheep might feel disconnected from their immediate family, they do connect with their “chosen” families” or “adoptive kin”. This can include anyone from family members who are genuine and appreciate them like select siblings to extended family members, relatives or friends. You can lean on people you are close with to seek some much-needed support.
Elizabeth writes “Resilient black sheep invest in the relationships in their lives that are genuine and loving.” She adds that their chosen” families “are people who fulfill family roles and functions, but are not necessarily related to them.”
2. Transform your negative experiences
Use your marginalization, recognize all your negative and traumatizing experiences and reframe into positive outcomes while acknowledging your pain. There is a positive side to every negative experience. There is always a silver lining. Instead of marginalizing yourself, bring your focus on the positive outcomes that all the challenges can bring in your life. Being a marginalized family member can be a very powerful experience that can make you extremely resilient.
In a Psychology Today article, Elizabeth explains “Be proud of your differences. Focus on the ways you are stronger today because of what you have been through. For example, some black sheep shared that they sought higher education to support themselves, just in case their families disowned them or refused to support them later in life.”