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  • Writer's pictureLifecoach Mike James

Family is just a label if they don't make you feel good.

Updated: May 28, 2019


What a label to be tied to!

For you, is having family ties good or bad? 

And what is it about the word family that keeps us so tied? 

Is it because we hear "There's nothing more important than family"? 


There's also "Family is everything."  

Oh, and "Family is forever."

But, but, but, but....then there's this:

"You don't get to pick your family members."

AND...we often hear people talk about being stressed out about the holidays or family gatherings due to the amount of time they have to spend with their "family" members.  "Have" spend time with.

Do we "have to" though?

What is the reason for the feeling of obligation?  If you're an adult, you don't really "have to" do anything you don't want to do.

If you are one of those people that say this phrase, why do you go?

There's a lot of questions in this blog, but here's the important one: Do you really enjoy being around your family?

If you do, great!  Seriously and truly.  THAT.  IS.  GREAT.  I'm guessing that would be ideal for most everyone and hopefully it is the case for a lot of people.  If you have those amazing bonds and family ties, you should be around them when you get to be.  And it probably doesn't feel like an obligation.

If your answer is no, what still keeps you making plans to be around them?

"Family" can feel tough.  We all move and grow at different speeds and move onto different interests than we had in the past.  "Family" can sometimes feel like they want to try and keep you the same.  The person they know you to be or remember you as.  A person for their comfort level as they know how to interact with you when they "know" who and how you are.  By what you've done.  

The amount of time many of us have spent with "family" members allows us to know each other's histories.  Our pasts.  Our patterns.  Habits.  We look for what we expect due repeating behaviors.  It's not incredibly easy to grow beyond these if/when you are reminded of them.  Or you are reminding them of theirs.  Or you are stapled or are stapling them to past habits.  

Adult conversations can feel like obligation as well.  We are "family" so it's only normal to catch up.  Most adults don't play anymore so we just catch up on what we are "doing."  "Small talk" and "catching up" is just...well, that when you aren't in each others daily/weekly/monthly lives.  How do you actually get depth and "real" a few times a year at a holiday gathering, often in the middle of bigger groups crammed around a big table, or three?  How can you really "be" with someone when most are just looking for surface talk to eat and drink around.

Then there's the histories.  "Family" secrets and roles.  Years of anger under the surface.  Secret resentments never having permission to surface.  Expectations not met.  Not doing your part.  Not talking about "the big thing" or "things."  Life advice without any curiosity about it.  Protecting other "family" members.  The roles and dynamics that should change naturally, but are kept the same.  Re-picked up and repeated.  By people.  "Family" people at that.  Possibly creating more anger, resentment and expectations.

Then we'll do it again the next gathering without re-doing it.  All because you're stuck with your "family" members because....and I quote...."you don't get pick them."

Do you really enjoy being around your family?

If the answer is no, then don't.  Don't be around them!

Don't go.

Say no.

Create something of your own.

If you say no, one of two things will more than likely happen.

"Family" will get angry with you.  Some may start to ignore you (even when you do show up) or stop inviting you altogether.  Should this happen without any questions asked or curiosity about you, they didn't care enough about real relationships in the first place to ask you "why."  But at least the relationship is more honest now.  And then now you know.  

The other thing that might happen is that "family" may call and ask you why.  Why are you not coming around anymore?  Then it's on you to be brave enough and responsible enough and love yourself enough to tell them the real reasons why you don't want to go.  This may open up more dialogue and truth in your family relationships.  Warning: It's not typically what many "families" want to happen because if you open yours, they may have to look at opening theirs.  That's uncomfortable and most people avoid discomfort at all costs.  Even at the cost of a real family member.  

But that truth and openness....That's family.  Being truthful with yourself first so you can be with them.  It doesn't mean they will understand.  It doesn't mean all will be roses and Fritos (sorry...I love Fritos so that's my version).  It doesn't mean that conversation or the conversations that it will open up will be easy.  

It does mean though...that you tried.

Question.  And be honest here: If a family member that you loved very much were to tell you that they are moving extremely far away and with little ability to connect very often, but you knew they were going to be so incredibly happy and were to live a long, fulfilled life, would you be happy for them, or sad for you?  Let's be honest, you can be both, but for the sake of this question, which would you choose?  


It's where you came from but not necessarily where you currently are.  Anymore.  Now.  And that's okay as long as you let that be okay.

Family ties.  Why?

Untie it if you need to.

Be around people you get to hang out with.  People you want to be around.  People you love and who make you feel good.

People you call family regardless of heritage or blood or links.

Because all in all, "family" is just a label if they don't make you feel good. 

*Download my human experience audio series "Now. Secrets of a Lifecoach" on Amazon or iTunes for more stories. This is THE human experience soundtrack.

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