Understanding The Role Of The “Black Sheep”

Let’s be honest, no one likes to feel single out as the black sheep of the family or of any group, it just isn’t a pleasant role.  Being the black sheep carries a lot of negative connotations, in addition, the person labeled as the “black sheep” may undergo different phases in which he is most likely to feel lonely, misunderstood, rejected, separated and devalued.

Undoubtedly the above is a recipe for disaster which can lead to the development of low self-esteem based on devaluation.  This devaluation comes from constantly feeling as an outsider “I do not fit, since I do not fit there has to be something wrong with me” …such distorted thinking pattern can be very damaging to one’s own self esteem.  When an individual is single out as the one always at fault, one tends to carry negative thoughts and replays them over and over again.  This makes it difficult for an individual to recognize there is nothing wrong with who one is; it just means one is different and different is usually good.

“The black sheep of the family is that member who does not agree with what is established within the family system.”

The family as a group is still a system.  In order to function, a system requires common rules that are to be accepted by all or at least by the majority; in this way the system guarantees its cohesion and proper functioning.

But what happens when a person does not share the same values as the system he belongs to?
Basically that person is kept at bay, the existence of such person is uncomfortable to the system resulting in it feeling threatened by that which it cannot control.  The attitude of the system towards that which it singles out as different is to look at it with a magnifying glass and pour over blame for all which is at fault within the system itself; that is why many times those considered the black sheep end up becoming  society’s scapegoats.

What role does the black sheep play in the family system?
The black sheep is a great catalyst for change, mainly for two reasons:
1) It shows the weaknesses hidden within the system.
2)With his vision and way of understanding life, the black sheep brings new values ​​that can allow greater growth to the rest of the family system.

Without a doubt the black sheep plays a very important role, precisely because within his core it’s hidden the raw sap which is needed to change the obsolete, toxic and distorted ideas of the system.

What are the black sheep and his relatives supposed to learn from such collision?
Paradoxically the great lesson for both; the black sheep and the rest of his relatives; is exactly the same  “to accept diversity.”

The black sheep complains about his family because they show no understanding towards his uniqueness, however he also fails to realize his own lack of effort on understanding his own family.   By behaving this way the black sheep also shows no tolerance and collides with everything different from him.  If you consider that you fulfill this role, the best thing you can do is strengthen yourself in your convictions and values, express yourself through them but respect that each person has his or her own way of seeing life and their visions do not always have to coincide with your visions or interests.

Being more tolerant while remaining yourself is what is important!
Remember that judging, changing, correcting or condemning family members is a waste of energy which only fuels conflict.  If you have experienced those emotions do not feel guilty or less than anyone, we all feel them at one point or another; anyone who would claim never to have felt them is simply lying or in denial.  The important part is to learn the difference between standing up for yourself vs being machiavellic or manipulative.

To take your rightful place and  come onto your own is to learn to differentiate when an action is require and when it is not (it all comes down to motivation).  As long as others are not invading your space and violating your rights then simply live and let live.  You are not here to force them to be like you; you are here to expose the  failures, weaknesses, unresolved issues within the system by simply being your authentic self, which means working on yourself without denying your own light and darkness.

**It is important to remember that I am referring to cases in which the particular member of the family (black sheep) has made no effort; it does not apply to those who have tried to meet others half way but were met with hostility, blame, or by being ignored or excluded.

In the same way the rest of the family members have lessons to learn, they would benefit tremendously and grow exponentially if they were to open themselves up to the lessons the “black sheep” has to offer; precisely because the black sheep provides a renewed vision, a path to healing vs hiding.  Real character vs reputation.

The black sheep offers a path towards the authentic self as he is not afraid to look at his own shadow and openly accept his own shortcomings without doing penance for them; rather he focuses on healing wounds, developing inner strength and expanding his vision and soul.  None of those things can be learned by simply hiding that which is unpleasant to us.  If we seek to evolve, it is imperative we learn to expose ourselves vs working on the constant creating and protecting of a fake persona which only survives because of the constant approval of others.

As a whole we need to realize that when a system thrives focused on reputation vs real character, its approval is not a gift but a  penance, for one becomes a slave to the so called “reputation” which has been built; forever condemned to hiding the real core of who one is.

After so many years of being labeled the black sheep of the family and feeling angry and sad at the same time because of it,  I came to understand that I had to make a serious choice.  On the one hand I could choose to live like most people; preaching standards which would only extend to my inner circle and only if they were willing to bend to my desires ( in other words become a tyrant) or choose to live by what made me happy….choose to accept the fact that I was different and there was nothing wrong with how I was created.

After so much wrestling within and externally rebelling I came to the realization that part of my pain was originated from living in mourning.  Every time I tried to convince myself that something was wrong with me by failing to comply with what is valued nowadays in society or by choosing to be silent against atrocities, I killed a part of me–I had become more and more disconnected from my core and as such I was unhappy.

My battle with depression didn’t just come from the wounds inflicted by others and my own mistakes; it came from being untrue to myself.  Every time I tried to deny my calling I was killing myself.  Every time I accepted someone’s guilt and punishment that didn’t belong to me, I was killing myself.   Every time I tried to swallow the so called values and beliefs of systems; whether filial, religious or societal; which I knew were ill and founded on lies, I was killing myself.  Systems which preached morals and kindness but when action is called often behave atrociously.

I had lost myself and returning to me implied recognizing my power and learning to give myself permission to be me; with all my light and darkness.  I am the only one responsible for becoming authentic, even if at the core of who I am is a quirky, shy yet opinionated girl who stands for what she believes, even if others will judge, condemn or calumniate who I am.   I chose to be me even if that meant exposing the horrors lived and the mistakes made.

We have been educated to believe that satisfaction lies on the approval of others.  That one is “good” if one hides anger, fear, and any other emotion, behavior, pattern, labeled as “bad”.  We have been taught that to be “good” “saintly” “virgin” “lady or gentleman” meant to suppress our emotions, to pretend.  To act one way in front of others while being different at home.  We confused sensuality with pornography and virtuosity with hypocrisy.

The real meaning of words got twisted, confused and forgotten as to manipulate the masses and skew our visions.  We have been taught that love is blind trust; by doing so we wash our hands of any responsibility and protect our so called reputations. We have been taught that to express our fears openly is a sign of low self esteem yet we praise those who pretend to be confident when they have no real knowledge of who they are; how can anyone who runs from looking at the areas labeled as “dark” or “bad” be confident?  Are we so blind or so ignorant as not to realize that what that really is has a name? …FEAR…a fear much greater than the fear felt by the one willing to talk about it.

Now with this awareness growing in me, recognizing that to have the approval of many is actually a sign of weakness, that to seek recognition to fill me is trying to fill a bottomless hole; I watch and choose to stay with me, I choose to be with me.

Trembling, sensitive and honestly beautiful, I choose to go through the vertigo that makes me feel the emptiness, the old pain, and the risk that by searching to rediscover me, by learning to give concessions to those who are deserving in the same way I would like them to do so for me, I may end up with nothing but me.   I get scare and ride the wave, I hold myself, I choose to walk with me.

With this new way I am learning to be a companion to myself first and then to  those closest to me.  I am learning to listen to me and not abandon myself.  Stick and stones may break my bones but I have learned that bones heal.  I ride the wave of anger, pain, frustration, fear; I get up and once more embrace the odd girl/woman staring back at me from the mirror.  I am learning to love myself, I choose to fill myself with me. I understand to be good, to give love, I need to be filled with it by loving myself enough first and choosing to bravely live by my own tune.  I choose to open myself to what life offers me and not resist it.  I choose to transit and transform my story from within.  I am not healed nor have “arrived”, I recognize I am still healing, learning to love myself and learning how to honor my own uniqueness. Power is born by being with me, power is born within me.

I now leave you with a beautiful extract from Berth Hellinger

“The so-called “Black Sheep” of the family are actually Natural Seekers of liberation paths for the family tree. Those members of the tree that do not adapt to the norms or traditions of the Family System, those who since childhood were constantly seeking to revolutionize beliefs, going against the paths marked by family traditions, those criticized, judged and even rejected; those are the ones called to release the family tree of repetitive stories that frustrate entire generations.
The “Black Sheep”, those that do not adapt, those that shout rebellion, play the most important role within each family system, they repair, detoxify and create a new and flourished branch in the family tree. Thanks to these members, our trees renew their roots. His rebellion is fertile land.  His madness is water that nourishes.  His stubbornness is fresh air.  His passion is fire that rekindles the hearts of the ancestors. Countless repressed desires, unrealized dreams, frustrated talents of our ancestors manifest themselves in the rebellion of these black sheep seeking fulfillment.
The family tree, by inertia will want to continue maintaining the castrator and toxic course of its trunk, which makes the task of our sheep a difficult and conflicting work. However, who would bring new flowers to our tree if not for them? Who would create new branches? Without them, the unrealized dreams of those who hold the tree generations ago would die buried under their own roots. Let no one make you doubt, take care of your “rarity” as the most precious flower of your tree. You are the dream come true of all your ancestors.”


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By Sofia Falcone

I passionately believe one person can make a difference. I write from my own experiences and interests. It is my greatest hope that by writing about my own challenges, victories, hopes and learnings, others may feel inspired to believe more in their inner power and to fully embrace themselves!

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