How False Family Roles Muffle Your True Calling

Posted by on September 25, 2013 in True Self | 32 comments

Many of us can’t hear our true calling—and, hence, be our real selves—because of old family dynamics and belief systems.  In my workshops, I’ve found that the main reason people don’t get what they want in life is because they’re still acting out some worn-out family role that doesn’t fit who they truly are.   

olsentwinsFor example, when I was 13 years old I was fascinated by “Debby” and “Deenie,” identical twins in my junior high school. They had long blond hair, tanned athletic bodies, and the whitest teeth I’d ever seen.  Even though we lived in Smyrna, Georgia, we may as well have been in LA, because Debby and Deenie looked like movie stars to me.  I used to follow them around, to tell the truth. It’s not like I was stalking them or anything, I just liked to watch them. I was curious. I was a budding psychologist, after all.

I noticed something interesting about them after a while. Even though Debby and Deenie were identical twins, they behaved differently. Whereas Debby seemed confident and down-to-earth, Deenie acted ditzy, especially around guys.  I couldn’t figure it out.  One day in class I noticed that Debby received a “97” on an exam and Deenie got a “93.”  It began to dawn on me that maybe Debby was treated as “the smart one” in the family, leaving Deenie to be “the stupid one.” But it made no sense because Deenie was intelligent in her own right. As far as I knew, the three of us were the only ones to get A’s on that exam.

AThat’s when it hit me—the insidious nature of family roles. If one person is smart, the other one isn’t. But the truth is that intelligence generally runs in a family. All the children tend to be pretty smart. They just express their abilities and talents in different ways from each other. Unfortunately, it’s very hard for most of us to see this truth, stuck as we are playing the same old roles year after year. The good news is when we stop unconsciously playing a part that constrains us, our negative thoughts and bad habits tend to go with it.

familyrolesIn order to function as units, families divvy out parts to their members like characters in a play. It’s not a conscious thing.  It’s not like someone says, “OK you be ‘the shy one’ and I’ll be ‘the popular one.’” It just sort of happens. Every role has its limits, even the ones that are seemingly good.  For example, many people in my workshops took the character of “the golden child” early in life. They were told as kids, “Honey, you can do anything you want.”  Now, why would such multitalented people need to take my classes?  They lack direction. Precisely because they’re good at so many different things, they don’t know how to pick just one and go with it. 

screamSo what does all this old family stuff have to do with hearing your call? How does identifying an old family pattern help you get a job you love, discover a creative outlet that makes your heart sing, or find a wonderful life partner? Once my workshop participants wake up to the false roles they’ve been playing, they realize they’ve been holding themselves back from getting the lives they wanted without knowing it.  This realization empowers them to turn their lives around.  The same can be true for you.

So what limiting role do you suspect holds you back from getting the life of your dreams?  Are you “the responsible one,” “the peacemaker,” “the people pleaser,” “the scapegoat,” or perhaps “the baby” in the family? Not sure?  Don’t worry.  Next week we’ll dig deeper to help you identify a false role and break it so you can follow your true calling.  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

32 Comments

  1. Overcoming these assigned roles can be a major hurdle in life. And this is true no matter what your assigned role — smart, stupid, golden, scapegoat. They all carry a price if we don’t recognize the roles we played and work to overcome them. A lot of people think digging back into this family stuff is a waste of time. But becoming conscious of these roles and other family matters is the path to freedom, or so I’ve found. Birth order is another interesting phenomenon, and one worth looking at sometime. There is some research on that matter, too

    • Absolutely. This is the major hurdle I see in my workshops, and the good news is once you become aware of a limiting role, even a so called “good one,” it begins to dissolve naturally. Then your true abilities may emerge. I’ve watched 14 year olds “get this” and begin to change right on the spot. So you’re never too young or old to start. It’s so worth the effort! It’s really the first step of the hero’s journey (after feeling frustrated).

  2. to elaborate on the above:
    If you are deemed the smart one, then you should never do anything stupid, right? How stupid is that. and if you are the “good” child, then anything that isn’t perceived as good can be a hinderance to you on a subconscious level.

    • Right. We are not black and white like that. The pressure to be “good” or “smart” all the time could be hiding a true gift. For example, perhaps you are really an artist who sees how messed up society is. This attitude may seem rebellious to you, given your upbringing to be “good,” so you suppress it. And since school smarts has nothing to do with such a calling, you may doubt your instincts because it doesn’t fit the label “smart.”

  3. Love your blog! You are right. I’ve been amazed at how something as simple as the order in which you are born affects your life and your roles you take on. Keep on writing! You are a muse! 🙂

    • Thank you! Yes, you are right about birth order… More on that in another blog. In this article’s example, I’m sure you can guess that Debby was born first!

  4. What an insightful blog! Excellent insights about how we get “type cast” in early life and if we don’t leave behind these old roles, we’re stuck living an artificial life, unable to express the vibrant, living reality of who we are. Family roles are like stereotypes–they imprison us in external expectations. Thanks for showing one of life’s major stumbling blocks so clearly. You have a real gift.

    • Thank you so much Diane. Coming from you, that means a lot. Next week we’re going to tackle how to start breaking these false roles so our true selves can emerge. Very powerful stuff!

  5. That’s a great blog, Michelle. And so true. Labels or roles do us no good at all. But often happen and I’m glad you are able to work with people to help them see that even the ‘positive’ ones can be stifling and limiting! Thank you for sharing. Looking forward to reading more!

    • Thanks Anna. The label “smart” kept me from seeing I was a musician for years! Next week we’re tackling how to break these roles… I’m so glad this speaks to you — nice to “hear” your lovely voice.

  6. I have been examinating out a few of your posts and i can claim pretty clever stuff. I will definitely bookmark your site.

  7. This is the best wordpress tutorial I have seen. I can not believe it was free!

  8. An impressive share, I simply given this onto a colleague who was doing a bit of analysis on this. And he in truth bought me breakfast as a result of I discovered it for him.. smile. So let me reword that: Thnx for the deal with! However yeah Thnkx for spending the time to debate this, I really feel strongly about it and love reading extra on this topic. If attainable, as you grow to be experience, would you thoughts updating your weblog with more particulars? It is highly helpful for me. Big thumb up for this weblog put up!

    • Absolutely!

  9. Your idea is valueble for me. Thanks!…

    • You’re welcome!

  10. Can I just say what a relief it is to find someone who actually is aware of what theyre speaking about on the internet. You undoubtedly know methods to bring a problem to mild and make it important. You have the gift.

    • Thank you so much. The word is starting to spread. My website was chosen as 1 of 15 brilliant websites that will inspire and change your life by Lifehack in January.

  11. Hurrah! A blog from where I be able to genuinely get helpful information.

  12. It’s difficult to find knowledgeable people in this particular topic, however, you sound like you know what you’re talking about! Thanks

  13. You ought to be a part of a contest for one of the greatest websites on the internet. I’m going to recommend this blog!

  14. Way cool! Some extremely valid points! I appreciate you writing this article plus the rest of the website is also very good.

  15. I would like to give you a big thumbs up for your excellent info. I’ll be coming back.

  16. This is a great blog. I stumbled upon it and saved as a favorite it. Money and freedom is the greatest way to change, may you be rich and continue to help others.

  17. This is a very good tip especially to those new to the blogosphere. Brief but very precise info… Appreciate your sharing this one. A must read article!

  18. I love it when people get together and share views. Great website, stick with it!

  19. You need to be a part off a contest for one of the highest
    quality websites online. I am going to highly recommend this site!

  20. Hey there I am so grateful I found your weblog, I really found
    you by mistake, while I was browsing on Bing for something
    else, Anyways I am here now and would just like to say many thanks for a fantastic
    post and a all round entertaining blog (I also love the theme/design), I
    dont have time to look over it all at the moment but I have saved it and also included your
    RSS feeds, so when I have time I will be back to read a lot more, Please
    do keep up the superb work.

  21. Im not too much of a internet reader to be honest yet
    your sites really nice, ensure that it stays up!
    I’ll just bookmark your site to come back later.

    Cheers

  22. I believe the content material here is really great, appreciate it for your efforts. You should keep it up forever! Best of luck.

    http://megaart.com.pl/projektowanie-toalety-potrzebne-akcesoria/

  23. I’m still learning from you, but I’m trying to reach my goals. I absolutely love reading all that is posted on your website.Keep the tips coming. I loved it!

  24. Ill immediately grab your rss feed as I can’t find your e-mail subscription link or e-newsletter service. Do you have any? Please let me know in order that I could subscribe. Thanks.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.