How to Survive as a Black Sheep in a Toxic Family

Sweta Patel

I grew up as the black sheep in my family. How do I know it wasn’t just in my head or that I wasn’t making it up? It started with family secrets. Everyone seemed to know something I didn’t. It bothered me, but I never said anything. I started to distance myself because I felt not accepted for living authentically. It was tough because it hurt me more than I thought it would. Then, my dad would do things like keep the house keys away from me and tell others that he didn’t trust my judgment. I started to believe that he just didn’t care about me. I felt that I was the unreliable one. My past was completely different from theirs, and I was grateful for that. I could see things that they could not see, like the view from a high rise. It did occur to me that I was living a life that was more “awake” to the world rather than listening to the news and the media and following the herd. It was 12 against one, but that was okay because I knew I was being taken care of from above. A lot of people who aren’t even my family members disapproved of me simply because I was different. I had a lot more setbacks than they did, and they would never be able to understand the suffering I had to go through to survive what I did. I don’t think they would be able to handle themselves if they had to stand on their own two feet.

Here are the steps I took to survive as the black sheep, despite what they thought and felt about me:

Live authentically in spite of disapproval

I wanted to live a life all about freedom and good health. I realized that not everyone wants to live like this unless they went through something that destroyed their health. No one understood me because they didn’t understand the pain I endured while healing my health. They just saw me on the surface and judged me for that. They didn’t take the time to get to know me, but they were quick to make judgments because they loved to gossip.

I realized following a spiritual path was the way to true health. It was about breathing and letting everything go and understanding the bigger picture. Not everyone is going to approve of you or even like you. They will like certain things about you and may hang around you while you’re successful. They won’t come to see you in the trenches or help you when you need it the most. I had to look for help outside of my immediate family, which hurt me a lot. The people I thought I could rely on turned out to be the ones who stabbed me in the back when I was at my worst. The best revenge is living your best life, regardless of what anyone says.

You’re special and you know it

Something about black sheep makes them unique; only highly intelligent people will recognize the unique qualities that most people bypass and don’t even think about. They will overlook how rare you are as a person and will not appreciate you. It’s okay, though, because everything you do is for you. This is one of the best ways to live—without validation because when we start looking at things like what others think of us and what they believe us to be, we will dig ourselves into a hole that we can’t get out of and keep on digging.

Instead, we could be using that time to better ourselves and everything around us. We want to grow as much as we can, and for someone not to see the greatness in this is wrong on so many levels. For example, I see myself as more of a purist because of my experiences with my health. I live my life in a way that I feel more at peace. My family members do not have peace within themselves; they are always looking for someone to blame when something goes wrong. This is one of the most toxic traits in my family members. I realized I didn’t want any part of this; this was the main reason I had to leave because it was the same environment that messed with my mental health. Most people don’t realize how much family can affect your mental health and contribute to your diseases. I am not blaming any of my family members, but I am saying that your environment plays a huge role.

Boundaries are everything

To maintain a peaceful environment, I decided to set boundaries with my family. I discussed how I would and would not engage with them. It is truly going to be an art, and it will help me create peace within myself, something I can cultivate and am not willing to lose under any circumstances. No matter what they think of you as a person, remember to always set boundaries and maintain your peace. This is the way forward to healing from toxic environments and maintaining a level of sanity.

I don’t like holding grudges against my family members. Anger can eat you up from the inside. It is a dance of navigating around them in a way that I can still maintain my peace without them in my life. I will also be nice to them if they need me and will care for them if anything happens.

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Millions of women who silently struggle with autoimmune-related health issues have a new resource to turn to for help. Sweta Patel, founder of Healveda is no stranger to success. She has advised and served as an executive for more than 200 high-growth startups in Silicon Valley. She’s the founder of Startup Growth Mode, Best-Selling Author, and an Oracles Member, an elite brain trust of entrepreneurs that include Sir Richard Branson, Tim Draper, and more. Sweta switched from tech to health after successfully dealing with three different autoimmune episodes. Today, she is on a mission to help women all over the world find natural ways to defeat the crippling effects of autoimmune diseases while going after their dreams.


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