What does it mean to be the black sheep of the family? More importantly, how can you deal with this status, this brand that’s been put upon you?

The first time I heard the words ‘black sheep’ was after my brother told my parents I’d been sexually abused. When he asked what they were going to do abou1t it, they said,

“Well, we can’t say anything because we would be black sheep in the family.”

In this case, I’m not so sure they even understood the true definition of the words. In all honesty, if they’d told my abuser’s family, I would’ve been the black sheep because my abuser’s family was also my extended family. He was my cousin. And even though they never told, I still feel like a black sheep sometimes, but not just for that reason. Let’s examine what these words mean.

Black sheep is a member of the family or extended family that’s seen as a disgrace.

(Poor literal black sheep out there. They don’t deserve the color of their wool begin drug through the mud…lol)

Signs You Are the Black Sheep of the Family & What to Do about It

Being this avoided, slandered, and misunderstood member of the family is hard. I’ve felt like a black sheep for most of my life, at least when it comes to my extended family. My parents, my brother, and one of my aunts accepted me much better than the rest. But when I was around the others, I learned the characteristics of being a black sheep.

Here are a few signs that you are the black sheep in your family:

  • Your past labels you
  • Your beliefs differ wildly from family members
  • You are an example of ‘what not to be’ to the children of other family members
  • Your family doesn’t like your profession
  • You never feel good enough around your family
  • You’re seen as a rebel
  • You disagree with issues or situations in the family

These are only a few indicators that you might be the black sheep of the family. Honestly, you probably already know if this is you. It’s a feeling in the pit of your stomach that says, “I’m just different, and I’m not accepted.’”

Do you recognize this feeling? Well, there’s good news. There are ways to cope with being this label in the family or even among friends. Black sheep are often found in groups of friends as well. So, let’s see how we can defy their toxicity.

1. Live authentically

Despite what they say about you, or how they treat you, continue to live your true self. Do not let your family water you down just to suit their needs. You may notice comments like,

“You should wear more colors instead of all black,” or “You’re going to hell for what you’re doing.”

Unfortunately, some family members are bold like this. They will label you an outcast if you continue to stand out and do what you want.

The answer is to keep doing what you feel is right. It’s the key. You will never feel right if you give in to family pressure. Sometimes, it doesn’t even matter. You could change a million things about yourself to suit others, and they still might see you as an outcast. So, why change. Be yourself.

2. Have compassion for yourself

Living as the black sheep of the family can be draining. Even though you try to stand up for yourself, some of the bile can still slip through. The words can remain in your mind for hours or days, sometimes causing depression.

In order to keep from being overwhelmed by criticism, you must treat yourself well. Take some time to relax, stay away from family, and meditate. Go out to eat with people who make you feel comfortable, and even buy yourself something new. Be good to yourself and realize you’re strong to deal with these things.

3. Your chosen ones

Spend more time with the family members who accept you and less time with the ones who don’t. This doesn’t mean you need to completely block them from your life, but it does mean you should limit their negative influence on your life.

Your chosen village, no matter how small it may be, is the group of people who will help you realize your dreams and goals, instead of trying to enforce their beliefs onto you. Recognize this, and truly appreciate it as well.

4. Learn from toxic family

When you’re around people who consider you the black sheep of the family, instead of being hateful, just listen to them. Pay attention to the way they talk and their body language. Sometimes you can learn so much from those who persecute you.

I’ve noticed that many times when people insult or criticize you, they’re really the ones who are unhappy. Dare I say, they’re jealous of all the things you’ve achieved? Learn the negative truths from these people and this will make you feel much better.

5. Practice eliminating worry

When you’re considered the black sheep of the family, sometimes you worry constantly about how to fix this. Some people want to stop being seen this way, and so they worry and try to make others happy with them. Listen, don’t start wearing pastel because Auntie June said you look more feminine like your other cousins.

Don’t let your cousin make you feel uncomfortable when she holds her hand up to another family member’s ear, whispering and looking your way. You know the situation. Just don’t worry about all that ‘high school type’ drama. This will take some practice, but you will eventually be able to laugh at them and walk away.

6. Demand that you are respected

If you’re feeling strong and confrontational, demand respect, and say it in a stern way. Do no whisper what you want. Now, this may not make them change, it’s highly doubtful. But what it does is it makes you feel stronger.

Also, you can add to this demand that you cannot be with them as long as they disrespect you. They may still talk about you, whispering, side-glaring, but at least they know that it’s not smart to give you advice… at least for a little while.

7. Don’t label yourself

Over time, some people tend to take the black sheep label and place it on themselves. They’ve been living this way for so long. *Points at me* But you must peel off the label and throw it away.

Just because others see you this way, does not mean you have to keep going around saying stuff like, “Yeah, I’m the black sheep of the family.” I bet you’ve heard that a few times huh? Well, stop doing it to yourself too.

8. Get help

If you need help or support, then get it. There is no shame in admitting that people caused you pain and ridiculed your life. Sometimes, these labels and insults can be so hurtful, and it’s hard to shake the negative vibes. Black sheep negativity can sometimes get inside the cracks already caused by other damage.

If you feel overwhelmed by all this stuff, tell your therapist, or talk with one for the first time. You can also confide in your little village, you know, the ones who support you. If you’re hurting, just don’t go it alone. There are still people who care about the real you.

Blah… black sheep

If they consider you the black sheep of the family, then so what. Who cares what they think? I bet they have so many skeletons in their closet that they can’t hang up their coat. I’m serious. So, instead of letting these ‘perfect’ people run your life, decide to keep doing what’s best for you, and what makes you happy. This is what really matters.


  1. https://www.psychologytoday.com
  2. https://www.forbes.com

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