How to Create the Family You Want

Sometimes the family we were born into doesn’t provide us with the type of caring, understanding, affirmation, and acceptance that feels like love. That feeling of belonging and being celebrated.

Does your family say/do things that make you feel discouraged about your life choices? Does their fear for your future make you not want to take risks? I think the bigger question you can ask yourself is: Is what they say about me true?

I know familial relationships can have a strong hold on people. Some feel like those bonds are concrete and undeniable. Some feel that family deserves respect and carries more weight than some stranger off the street. You always come back to family no matter what happens is often the sentiment.

You can still hold that belief, but I challenge you to take an honest look at how those relationships affect you. The things that each family member expresses to you. Sometimes people inherit or share opinions from others and look for things in your life to support those opinions. Not saying that some of your reputation in the family isn’t based on actual events. But more than likely, there are other incidents in your life that would disprove whatever point they’re trying to make as well.

It takes time to break old habits and routines that ultimately change your behaviors. It can be particularly difficult for those close to you to decipher real change in your life. So they may be holding your old patterns against you and not seeing the new effort you’ve been putting in. That can affect your desire to continue making those hard daily choices if those closest to you don’t recognize the new patterns you’re creating. Because you want to be seen and understood. You have to be your own strength and know that you are doing the personal work to be someone different from the inside out. And when your family jokes or rehashes your past, ask yourself if it’s really true. Bring your receipts to show otherwise. If you want them to see you, unfortunately it’s often guilty until proven innocent. It’s going to be your responsibility to speak up for yourself if you feel consistently misunderstood. And that may take some campaigning. And if the relationships are worth it, you’ll do the work.

We often hold people to the standard of a title. This is how a mother is supposed to behave, how family it supposed to act. A lot of times we take the humanness out of the roles people play in our lives. They are individuals with their own histories and struggles. And that history and those struggles play in the background of their minds when they interact with us. They have triggers we’re sometimes not privy to. Keep in mind too, that we do the same thing. We react to people based off of our own history and current concerns. It takes a lot of awareness to understand that and interact with a person accordingly. You may be talking to a person’s seven year old hurt self. The child that was told they weren’t clever enough, or made fun of for reading slowly. Expecting family to fill an affirming role and behave in a way that makes you whole is a tall order to fill. It would take them being self-aware, and well-adjusted in their own life experiences to offer you space to be. People don’t often notice the grass growing under their own feet. Which can add another hurtful layer of expectation. How could dad or aunty not know how a specific event hurt you deeply?? They were there when it happened. They experienced whatever it was in their own skin and couldn’t comprehend the depth of the impact on you. How could they? They’re a different person with different sensitivities. Thankfully you can fill the the desire to be understood yourself through personal work.

While you may choose to make it work with what you have, there’s an alternative. You can make your own family. We can get hung up on where we want things to come from instead of being open to who they come from. Dad doesn’t tell you he’s proud of you, so you don’t hear it when your partner tells you that very thing, because you want it to come from Dad. And you feel lack because Dad doesn’t tell you in a way that you can understand. Don’t go without the kind of nurturing relationships you need.

Here’s how:
Put yourself out there. Actively look for like minded folks at meet ups, in sports teams, church if that’s your thing, free talks hosted by your local college, maybe even a Facebook group. It just takes a couple of people that you can live heart to heart with on a regular basis for you to get that yummy feeling of being able to relate to someone. Keep putting yourself out there until you get the relationships that you want. If it’s something worth having, it’s certainly something worth working towards. Go forth with the sentiment of sharing in a fun, judgement free, mutually beneficial way. Don’t think of it as replacing your familial ties. That’s quite a role to put on someone else to fill for you. And remember to give as much as you take.

You have to know yourself to have an idea of what love feels like in your life. Do you know where the holes in your well-being are?


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