by Aletheia Luna
Early in life, I learned a critical truth:
Our families can
either make or break us.
They can inspire,
support, and uplift us.
Indeed, our families
can be a second womb, hearth, or safe space in which we grow and
On the other hand,
they can demoralize, oppress, and smother us.
Depending on where you
are on the family spectrum, you'll be a relatively well-adjusted
individual or a person plagued with problems.
Our experience of
'family' forms a large part of the foundation of our self-worth,
feelings of belonging, and psychological/emotional well-being as
What happens when
you're the black sheep of the family...?
What happens when you
are rejected, outcasted, marginalized, and even disowned from
your birth family?
In this article, I'll
help you discover,
if you are a
how to heal the
trauma associated with familial rejection
opportunity for spiritual growth and transformation inherent
in being a reject!
What is a
The "black sheep of the family" is a term that refers to a family
member who is considered,
unconventional, eccentric, or not aligned with the family's
persona and values.
Sometimes "black sheep"
has strong negative connotations as it can be used to refer to a
person who is considered a "misfit," criminal, addict, or overall
Black Sheep Are Often Scapegoats (aka. "Identified Patients")
On top of being considered weird, black sheep are often
scapegoated and blamed for the majority of a family's problems.
This tendency to
scapegoat is known in psychology as the "Identified Patient."
The "Identified Patient" or IP, was a term that emerged in the
1950s to describe the actions of sick and dysfunctional families
and their tendency to assign one person in the family as a
scapegoat to their problems.
Essentially, the Identified Patient is said to be a way
that families avoid their own internal pain, disappointments,
and struggles, by pointing the finger at another family member
as the cause for all the problems they experience.
If you were the Identified Patient in your family, you
were most likely chosen as the "trouble maker" or "problem
child" due to your status within the family (e.g., young, naive
and abusable, or older, headstrong and threatening), or your
Soul Age and personality, which
drew attention to your contrasting likes, tastes, and habits.
qualities placed a big bulls-eye on your head and were used
against you throughout your life.
Symptoms that you were chosen as the Identified Patient
of your family include the following:
were more strict with you than they were with your other
were blown out of proportion and/or punished
carried the feeling that you "didn't fit in" with your
family, and you didn't develop strong connections with
mocked, ridiculed, and/or made fun of on a constant
seemed intent on making you feel "deficient" and as
though you were always fundamentally lacking
got stronger, more confident, or happier, your family
seemed intent on bringing you down and/or convincing you
that you weren't getting any better
mental and/or emotional disorders, and/or substance
abuse problems as a result of being scapegoated and
didn't show any interest in who you really were as a
criticized, completely ignored, and/or emotionally
manipulated if you rebelled in any way
It's important to note
that families who assign scapegoats or Identified Patients
often go to great measures to keep the member of the family they've
unconsciously chosen that way, otherwise, they are forced to face
their own inadequacies.
So if you're stuck in a pull-tug relationship with your family where
they treat you like crap, but cry and mope when you back away, this
9 Signs You're the Black Sheep of the Family
If you're still wondering whether you're the black sheep of the
family, let's zoom in even more.
Pay attention to the
following signs - how many can you relate to?
You are blamed
for most of your family's issues (whether directly or
You feel like
most of your family members completely misunderstand you
You're left out
of the loop on your family's news
invited to gatherings, celebrations, etc.
You don't have
much in common with any of your family members in terms of
likes, tastes, and preferences
You struggle to
emotionally or mentally connect with your family members
You're made fun
of, belittled, shamed, or bullied (either directly or
You often feel
like you're adopted or were raised in the wrong family
contrarian or eccentric individualist by nature (i.e., you
know who you are and what you stand for)
Have I missed any?
12 Mental and
Emotional Wounds Caused By Being a Black Sheep
Being cast as the black sheep of the family is not a
comfortable role. (However, it is a great doorway of opportunity,
which I will explain soon.)
The pain of being rejected, scorned, and even flat-out disowned cuts
deep to the core.
As a person who is the black sheep of my birth family, I know how
terribly lonely being a black sheep is. All of the following wounds
I've personally experienced and learned to deal with throughout
Here are the main mental and emotional wounds you may
You feel alone in
You struggle to
relate to other people
difficult to trust people in relationships, friendships,
work situations, etc.
and your instincts is hard, so you often feel lost (and
without an inner compass)
commitment is scary and triggering
You carry big and
oppressive core beliefs such as "I'm not good enough" and
"There's something wrong with me"
Deep down, you
feel that if someone truly got to know you, they wouldn't
like you anymore
overly dependent on your friends for emotional validation or
you prefer to go solo and bypass friendship altogether (as a
Social anxiety is
a regular issue you battle
Your life feels
like one big existential crisis
You grapple with
depressive and/or addictive tendencies
This list isn't
exhaustive, but I hope I've painted a clear picture.
Being the black sheep of the family ain't no 'walk in the
park.' It's traumatizing and destabilizing.
But you're certainly not
alone, and this experience isn't a curse, it's a pathway...
Why Being the
Black Sheep of the Family is Spiritual Opportunity 'Par Excellence'
Certainly, it's crucial that we come to terms with how traumatizing
being the black sheep is - we need to mourn this fact.
But I also want to
offer a unique perspective on being the black sheep of the
It's a tremendously important pathway to spiritual
When we are rejected by our birth family, we are given a gift many
others in life aren't:
the doorway to
While others who are
embraced by their families still need to play by certain rules,
black sheep have the
chance to walk their own paths...
accepted-family-members might benefit from being validated, they
also tend to be trapped in limiting roles that make it difficult for
authentic Soul growth and expression to occur.
Black sheep, on the other hand, have a clean slate.
The doorway to
trailblazing their own destiny is open, they aren't held back by
other's opinions because the judgment has already been made:
they are rejects,
oddballs, and outsiders.
Sure, there are cases of
perfect families who lovingly uphold the dreams and aspirations of
But these instances are
the exception, not the rule. The truth is that most families are
dysfunctional - they are products of our wider fragmented society.
And thus, they tend to have a stifling effect on one's spiritual
path and evolution.
As a black sheep, you are gifted with the chance to do some
authentic soul searching, free from the suffocating confines of your
family's expectations and desires. You have already been cast in the
role of Distaste and Disappointment. There's not much else your
birth family can do to harm you - the wound has already been
inflicted. Now, your job is to break free and find your true meaning
What you have experienced is, in reality, a spiritual initiation...!
7 Ways to Heal the Wounds of Being a Black Sheep
only three options for black sheep:
and get kicked
out of the community,
have the courage
to move out on your own
and rebuild from
or hide your
true self and desperately try to fit in
(which you never
When I embraced my role as a black sheep, I felt a sense of profound
sadness but also exhilaration.
Yes, I have been outcast
from my birth family - seen as a defiant and condemnable intruder -
but oh, what freedom!
However, I don't want to make light of this situation. It is deeply
traumatizing. On some level, it is akin to death. After all, our
biological survival is dependant on being accepted by those who
So to help you embrace the gifts inherent in being the black sheep
of the family, I have some advice.
Here are seven ways
to begin healing the wounds of being the family's outcast:
healthy boundaries that preserve your mental health
Sometimes we may still wish to visit our family of origin.
Others of us may
choose to communicate only through email, text, or phone. And
still, for some, it may be necessary to totally cut ties with
their birth family.
how toxic your family is, you can choose between
the above three options. Do keep in mind, however, that keeping
your distance from people who reject your authentic being is
To constantly be
reminded of your 'deficiencies,' 'shortcomings,' and
'inadequacy' is not good for your mental, emotional, or
Such people only tend
to hold you back in spirals of self-abandonment and
Understand that you are not the cause of your family's
Consciously you may know this, but deep down there's probably
still some doubt in you.
Sure, you may have
made some pretty serious mistakes in your life, but so does
everyone. Just because you are imperfect does not mean you are
the source of the dysfunction in your family.
If you were the Identified Patient (or still are), you must
realize that the cause of suffering in your family of origin is
their own repressed anger, insecurity, fear, and personal trauma
which they project onto you and haven't taken responsibility
your own authentic soul family
After being accustomed to a certain role and way of being for
our whole lives, it is strange and daunting to consider moving
onto other roles.
But please know that
you can have a family of your own and step into a new role that
is relational (i.e., connected with others), not isolated.
You can move on with
your life, find your own friends, make your own soul family, and
redefine who you are as a person. The only thing stopping you is
clinging to the past, and not opening yourself up to being more.
Practicing the art of
letting go will help you tremendously.
Contemplate your birth family's pain
Why on earth would we want to do this?
Well, the answer is
that contemplation often leads to understanding, and
understanding breeds compassion (which results in emotional
Once you are at a stable point in life, turn your mind onto your
birth family. Exploring the "why?" of what happened can help you
make peace with your past and close that chapter.
Reflect on what causes a person or group of people to reject or
demonize a person in the first place? Sure, they may be
narcissistic or stupid - but that's a surface judgment.
What's below the
narcissism or stupidity? Usually, the answer is fear
When a person or group of people need to subconsciously elect
someone else to personify their own pain and distress - someone
to point the finger at and pin their problems on - these are
very unhappy people indeed.
They haven't yet
learned how to consciously handle their feelings of guilt,
insignificance, embarrassment, or disappointment with themselves
and their lives.
By not accepting their inner strife they are continuing to build
a cocoon of hurt and resistance which prolongs their pain. So
essentially, these are people who are deeply and consistently
miserable human beings.
While we usually can't awaken our families from their
destructive habits, we can develop compassion and forgiveness
for them, understanding why we were treated the way we were. It
was actually nothing personal.
This is extremely
5. Learn to
love yourself and embrace your wounded inner child
We all possess an inner child, the part of us that sees the
world through the eyes of innocence, wonder, and spontaneous
Our inner child,
however, also cops the greatest amount of wounding growing up -
and it's for this reason that we need to learn to listen to and
Signs that you have a wounded inner child include addictive
tendencies, sudden unexplainable fears, anxiety and depression,
and the unshakable feeling of being worthless, "not good
enough," and empty inside. Read more about the wounded inner
If you find that no amount of self-improvement helps, chances
are that you aren't going deep enough. Your inner child must be
sought out, embraced, and nurtured through the practice of
We have an amazing guide on how to love yourself and also an
Inner Child Work Journal that will help you begin this
profoundly healing work.
this as a rare opportunity to do some soul searching
As mentioned previously, being the black sheep of the family is
both a curse and a gift.
Now that you are
largely free of the fetters of your family of origin, you can
walk your own path and be a lone wolf. You can turn inwards,
listen to the whispers of your heart, and plunge the depths of
Those who are embraced by their family of origin often struggle
to get to the place where they can turn inwards.
They are beset with
the pressures of having to live up to expectations, having to
project a consistently acceptable self-image, amongst other
Thankfully, you don't have to deal with this any longer. Once
you embrace being a black sheep and no longer fight against it,
you are initiated onto your own unique spiritual journey.
What could be more
precious than that?
Connect with your heart and listen to your intuition
Finally, to heal the wounds of being the black sheep of the
family, you need to reconnect with your heart.
I know this may be
scary. I remember how terrifying it has been for me to do this.
But I've learned that slowly tuning into my inner Center helps
me to make wise decisions and live a wholly authentic life - the
kind that many people dream about.
When being outcast by our family, it's common to close the heart
and totally shut off from life - this is a wise self-protection
But eventually, you
need to learn to open back up. To feel your pain. To do your
grief work. To practice letting go. To blossom into your truest
Many people overly rely on their family members for guidance.
However, because you
won't have that, you'll need to rely on the wisdom of your own
intuition. While this is harder to do, it is a wiser path.
No one can live your
life but you. No one can do the inner work of intentional
spiritual alchemy but you...