3. Create personal boundaries
Creating personal boundaries is another excellent protective measure to cope with marginalization and be more resilient. Restricting your exposure to your family can enable you to move ahead and start fresh. You can do this by either physically moving away from your family or limiting what and how much your family members know about your personal life. Establishing psychological and physical boundaries is a great way to protect yourself from emotional and mental pain.
Elizabeth adds “Creating physical distance from the family by moving away or limiting face time tends to protect black sheep from future interactions that are marginalizing. Other black sheep simply restrict what they talk about with their family.”
4. Lessen the impact of marginalization
In the study, participants who are black sheep in the family claimed that they downplay the marginalization experience. This resilience strategy enables them to understand their negative experiences better. You can even reduce the importance of family relationships to look at the marginalization from a different perspective. “You can change the meaning of your marginalization by changing the way you think about it,” says Elizabeth.
“Some black sheep insist that their marginalization does not bother them. They do this by reducing the influence their family relationships have on their lives… For these black sheep, family opinions become less valuable over time,” she adds.
5. Be your authentic self
Irrespective of whether your family approves of your lifestyle of choices, live your life as genuinely as possible. The study found that participants claimed to be true to themselves despite their family’s disapproval. However, the researcher observed there was an underlying anger in the respondents which was effectively used in accomplishing productive life goals. Moreover, it was also found that the participants became proud of what they were marginalized in the first place whether it was their choices, values, or sexual identity.
Elizabeth Dorrance Hall writes “These black sheep decided that being true to who they are was more important than fitting into a mold determined by their parents. Despite knowing the consequences of being different and going against their family’s wishes, these black sheep were proud, and valued their identities over their family’s acceptance of them.” So make sure you are always true to yourself no matter what the cost is.
Why being a black sheep is a powerful thing
When you learn to cope with being the black sheep, you can finally start realizing it’s not all bad. Not everything is negative and dark. You will realize that along with the darkness, being the black sheep in the family can also bring some unexpected light in your life. “As with everything in life, along with a ‘shadow side’ comes a ‘light side’ which means there is actually a tremendous amount of gift, opportunity, and power that can come with living out the ‘black sheep’ archetype,” says psychotherapist Annie Wright.
Being a black sheep in the family simply means that you’re guilty of being different. And that can be a very positive thing. Although marginalization can be a painful experience, it can be a blessing in disguise as well.
Here some gifts that come along with being a black sheep or a marginalized family member:
1. You become independent
Sometimes the feelings of acceptance and belonging come with a great sacrifice. When you want your family to accept you, you need to restrict yourself from being the authentic you. You learn to hide your true self so that you can fit in. When you acknowledge your status as the black sheep in the family, you become free to live your life the way you want. As you don’t need to please anyone anymore, you can finally be true to yourself without sacrificing your beliefs and values.
2. You get more choices
Being black sheep offers you enhanced lifestyle options and choices. When you are not tied to the expectations of your family, “you have a greater opportunity to craft the life you truly want, not just the one you’re ‘supposed to have.’ You can more fully choose how you want to love, politic, work, dress, worship, and nourish and build community,” says Annie.