Create a Family of Choice
Do you have enough support in your life? Are there people who you could call in a heartbeat if you needed a favor, or needed to talk? Is there family in your life who would come to your rescue if you needed them? Unless your life is filled with support, it may be time to rethink your relationships and create what I call a “family of choice”. Many of my clients are socially isolated because they have concentrated on doing for others and have lost touch with what they need in their lives. It’s never too late to cultivate new friends and family. Don’t you think it’s time now to create that family of choice and make it a priority in your life?
Some of you are probably blessed with strong family ties. Psychologists know that good family relationships can keep you feeling empowered. Too often, however, I work with people whose family members are negative influences. They don’t contribute to my clients’ self-esteem, as a matter of fact, they seem to contaminate it. Does your mother, father, or sibling frequently put you down? Do you feel depleted after you talk to them? Are they critical of your actions and your decisions? If so, you need to create a new family—a family of choice. This does not mean that you abandon your old family, this may just require that you limit your contact with negative family members and add to your support network.
A family of choice is a group of people who are in your life to empower you. They feed your self-esteem instead of depleting it. They are folks who are there for you during the tough times, and also during the celebrations in your life. They might represent a mother or father figure, or it may be a male or female friend who is like the sibling you never had.
As with most projects, you will need to take a look at your relationships and explore and investigate new situations to find people who are like-minded. Take a look at your environment. Is there someone at church, in your neighborhood, at your gym, in your fraternity, or at your kids’ soccer game who notices your positive qualities? Groups are a great way of creating families of choice.
It’s helpful to create as many lifelines as you can. There are a lot of you out there that don’t have nearly enough. The more lifelines you have, the less dependent on unhealthy relationships you will be. When you rely on just one or two people to replenish you, you end up either burning them out or being too needy and taking whatever they can give you. This can result in staying with someone even if they aren’t healthy.
You will need to put effort into your relationships. You will need to actively call people, write them, return favors, send cards, or go to lunch together. It’s well worth the effort. It’s like the Biblical principle—what you invest comes back a thousand fold.
Don’t spend your life in a vacuum with only the occasional visit from an outside person. It’s important to increase your contacts to add to your family of choice. It doesn’t just happen, you have to set it up that way.