black sheep of family

Every family is a system, and the essential characteristic of any system is its tendency towards stability. Stability is, therefore, one of the primary conditions for the survival of a family because any lasting instability can endanger its members, first emotionally and then physically, thereby threatening the subsistence of the family as a whole. However, in seeking stability, people tend to resort to various means. Sometimes, they adapt to new circumstances and change, but equally often, they resist any sort of change, thinking that stability can only be maintained through the status quo. Many indicators show that true stability can only be achieved and maintained through readiness for change. So, although this fact sounds paradoxical (“change” as the precondition of “stability”?), the essence of evolution theory itself is precisely in the adaptation of a particular species to new circumstances. Species that don’t evolve become extinct sooner or later. If we apply this statement to human beings, people who do not change during their lifetime can quickly fail and miss the very essence of their existence. Unfortunately, instead of seeing their problems as a means of personal development and improvement, most people defend themselves from life’s challenges by any means possible, thinking that problems are here to destroy their inner peace and stability. No, it is precisely the blocking of any change that threatens our stability and the stability of the family as a system.

So, protecting our own family from life’s challenges by locking up, building defensive walls, and resisting any change will simply not help. On the contrary, it will seriously endanger it. All living beings develop by learning from their own mistakes, faults, and problems, as well as by confronting undesirable external influences. Threatening circumstances actually initiate change because we cannot overcome them with old ways of thinking or with obsolete lifestyles. Successfully mastering an unpleasant experience imposed by life’s circumstances ultimately enables us to transcend our former level of consciousness and consequently overpower the limitations of the old system of thinking and behavior. On the other hand, resistance to learning life’s lessons, development, and change accumulates a certain quantity of negative energy in people. This negativity is manifested through negative emotional states and thoughts formed into prejudice and limiting beliefs, some of them conscious and most of them unconscious.

As a developing being, a man enters his life with many problems to solve, but people who don’t want to change push their undesirable inner states deep into the subconscious mind. They think they can get rid of them this way, but nothing is further from the truth. If there are more individuals like this in a family, then a family becomes a rigid structure that tries to maintain a fixed picture of reality on the surface, accompanied by considerable efforts to make an adequate impression on the outside world. But beneath the surface, at the psychological level, a relentless fight goes on. This fight may or may not be visible at first sight because it is a subtle, energetic process and not immediately apparent. However, although subtle, a battle for energy and maintaining fixed positions within a family may have dire consequences on the lives of all its members.

In terms of energy, people who don’t want to confront themselves and who base their stability upon suppression think that their negative mental states will disappear if they push them into the subconscious. That is not true – the suppressed negative energy will look for its outlet. A family is a system where all members are mutually linked with subtle energetic ties, so someone’s suppressed state will try to find its vent through another person in the family. Furthermore, people who don’t want to change need a lot of energy to perpetuate such a state, to protect themselves from life challenges, and to maintain their defensive mechanisms. It is hard to find energy for this kind of long-term resistance in oneself only. So where do such people get the energy? From other people. If our energy does not come from within, from our true self as the inner source, then it has to come from another source, and this outer source is usually other people, those whom we are strongly connected with. And these are, of course, the members of our immediate family.

In relationships of this sort, unconditional love is unfortunately not the only thing that flows through energy connections with close persons. Those who resist their development and change tend to bond with their family members on the basis of frustration, fear, sadness, anger, insecurity, or contempt. They then try to shift these negative states onto those other family members and simultaneously draw positive states such as love, peace, security, or stability from them. If the other person resists or expresses her displeasure at this transfer, the stealer will accuse her of cold-heartedness, selfishness, or even wickedness. The stealer will try to provoke any kind of reaction to keep blaming the other person for his own problems and transferring negative energy onto her while feeding upon her positivity. The logic here is simple – someone who possesses enough energy is a target for those who don’t. Therefore the energy body of a person who is devoid of energy acts like an empty cistern, attaching itself to the person who has abundant energy and sucking it out of her to the extent that she allows this to happen. The fight for energy is based on a simple rule – those who have energy feel well, while those who don’t feel bad. Since nobody wants to feel bad, a person with an energy deficit will look for energy in the first place where there is some, disregarding any morality or good manners.

When we look at the dynamics of family relationships in this way, they turn out to be a ruthless fight for energy between those who don’t want to work to obtain it for themselves and those who have it due to their own merits or natural predispositions. This is similar to the relations governing the world of crime. Energy crime is a copy of mafia-like models but in a subtler way, thus appearing as a phenomenon still not recognized and overcome by humankind. Society has not even solved the problem of actual crime, let alone psycho-energy crime. To overcome it, this phenomenon should first be detected and studied. Still, in the family structure that creates the need for a black sheep, it is not only psychological crime that is at stake. If we go a step further, this kind of dynamic turns into a somewhat monstrous conspiracy to physically destroy or sacrifice one family member to safeguard the survival of the original family structure.

Sacrifice had its role in some ancient societies, where it served as a way of protecting the community from trouble or total disaster. The community used to sacrifice a young boy or girl to “please the gods” and avoid misfortune. This same model is still applied in modern society, although mostly unconsciously, where our “advanced and prosperous” communities occasionally find a scapegoat who is blamed for something everybody is guilty of, but for the sake of presenting a positive image of the whole community this “something” has to remain hidden. And since our society remains ultra-sick and run by the lowest possible values and principles while masking this with positive ideals that only serve as a smokescreen, it needs a socially acceptable vent for its sickness and latent destructiveness. The ideal vent comes in the form of demonizing some society members or groups while praising and celebrating others. The same goes for modern families because, even nowadays, most of them need a black sheep to become the channel for the negativity that actually belongs to the family as a whole.

So, the position occupied by the black sheep in the family could not be worse. If she tacitly agrees to this game, such a person becomes an energetic septic tank. She takes the bulk of the negative energy accumulated in the family and becomes the family’s garbage can. She is not allowed to be happy and self-realized. On the contrary, it is quite natural that she is chronically ill or unhappy and accused of being nothing less than the source of the majority of the family’s problems. The other family members who dump their negativity onto the black sheep need someone to personify their dark side so that they don’t have to face it themselves. In this way, the black sheep becomes the family victim, blamed for the whole family’s misfortune or bad image so that other members can safely keep on living without any change, undisturbedly cultivating their weaknesses, vices, and faults. When the level of negativity in such a family exceeds the critical point, the black sheep will channel it all through herself. And everybody will live “happily ever after,” at least until the black sheep leaves the physical reality or revolt against her position. However, the revolt of a black sheep will so seriously shake the family structure that the family will do anything to prevent the rebellion. In situations like this, the family matrix, as an energetic entity, may even create a car accident (seemingly “unconsciously” and “unintentionally”) or some other kind of crisis to turn attention away from any type of change.

A black sheep as a child is usually emotionally and spiritually the most developed person in a family. She is capable of loving, accepting, and supporting others unconditionally. She is also a human being, and for that reason, she has the need to connect with other family members as firmly and as healthily as possible. But if other members are not as conscious as her and cannot love unconditionally, the nature of bonding will not be what the black sheep expects it to be. Since inadequate bonding is better than no bonding at all, the black sheep accepts what is offered and tries to deal with it the best she can. She often embodies the proverb “the smarter one gives in” and has no stomach for petty family fights and disagreements. She solves them by doing the things that don’t belong to her original responsibility, shouldering the family burden, and gradually creating the perception that nothing is too complicated for her. Even as a child, the black sheep is usually the most self-possessed in moments of crisis. She is the source of the family’s stabilitybecause she seems to have sufficient inner strength to be a constructive element in the solution to the crisis.

Although the black sheep is often a “good child” (which, of course, is not a rule), she begins to show visible signs of her position during adolescence. Since she is tacitly forbidden to be altogether happy and realized, she has to invent a problem. Therefore, she often creates a sort of fault, be it a medical problem, physical weakness, or behavioral problem. In extreme cases, the black sheep can be physically or mentally handicapped. The family seemingly understands her problem and, at least consciously, wants to help its members get better. However, the way of solving the problem often stops at the level of symptoms, while the true causes commonly remain hidden. For this reason, the black sheep cannot overcome her issues once and for all but turns them into chronic problems or jumps from one problem to another, creating a chain of unpleasant experiences both for her and for other family members.

Later in life, the black sheep usually becomes one of the non-realized persons in the family, at least in some of the crucial fields of life. She can be successful on one side but totally unsuccessful on another. She is often a rebel, a part of a counterculture, or is oriented toward spirituality, which is an ideal reason for her family to consider her abnormal. Instead of spending time swallowing absurdities served by the media or getting drunk in pubs as all “normal people do,” she meditates! She is concerned with things which can “make you lose your mind” and thereby inflicts pain on those who so “unselfishly love her”. The family may behave in a way similar to a totalitarian regime, never admitting it is wrong but instead using every possible opportunity to accuse its citizens of not being good enough and, therefore, responsible for the collective failures.

The spirituality of the black sheep often includes the idea that it is necessary to sacrifice worldly realization for spiritual development. Sometimes, she thinks that her “destiny” is so poor that she has no choice but to turn to the spiritual. However, there is no difference between the spiritual and material; both are inseparable elements of an overall reality, mutually linked and interwoven. “Sacrificing worldly realization” is sometimes required by spiritual schools that are not truly spiritual, and there are many such “schools.” No, the abstract is a part of the concrete, just as the concrete is a part of the abstract, so there is no actual spiritual realization if one has to sacrifice anything for it. The only thing a spiritually oriented person should sacrifice is his own ignorance and egotistic urges, but this is usually what he finds most challenging. Therefore, the black sheep’s worldly realization is blocked by her subtle position within the family and not by destiny or by the requirements of some quasi-spiritual school.

If we find ourselves in the position of the black sheep, how should we get out of it and change our place within the family? Technically speaking, it’s easy – we only need to dissolve the toxic bond within the family matrix. In a brief outline, first, we should see what benefits we draw from such a position. As we have already seen while discussing toxic bonding, we all benefit in some way from our roles and positions within the family, and so does the black sheep. She usually assumes her position at a relatively early age, before age three, and sometimes even in the prenatal period. The reason for taking this position so early is more than justified – it allows the child to survive. Accepting the role imposed by family members is the only sensible thing she can do in such circumstances. Besides surviving, the most crucial benefit a black sheep usually draws from her role is finding her place in the family and being accepted by the family members.

After discovering the benefits, we should put two and two together and see what is more worthwhile – the actual position or a change. If we voluntarily opt for a change, we can carry on with dissolving the toxic bond with the family as a whole by studying it in detail first and then by releasing it and recreating a healthy connection. Then, we have to reconstruct our integrity by retrieving the lost identity, that is, by integrating the part of our own being that we gave up when we accepted this role. In the end, we need to find the meaning of the problem, or the reason for choosing such a family, together with the lesson hidden in such an experience for us and the other family members. Then, we finish the whole process with an exchange of blessings.

Still, even if the therapeutic intervention was done perfectly, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the inner transformation will truly enable the black sheep to get out of her position. She also has to change her behavior, harmonizing it with totally new principles. Since she is spiritually more developed than the other members, the black sheep is more aware that families exist to be the best possible and not to be unhappy, so she wants to contribute wholeheartedly to such a scenario. However, although more mature, her position indicates that she is not yet completely mature. For if she was really mature, she would get out of such a position by exercising the type of love usually called merciless love. This kind of love is quite different from what most people know under the name of love.

We usually connect love with the heart chakra, the energy center found within the human aura. When the front aspect of the heart chakra works harmoniously, we can love in the manner of the merciful aspect of unconditional love. We feel that the universe is created out of love and that the very essence of God is love. Noble emotions overwhelm us, and we feel deep compassion and understanding for every human being. This kind of perception is absolutely healthy and desirable. It needs to be the foundation of all interpersonal relations because it gives the proper perspective of what relationships actually are – expressions of unconditional love. Merciful love is a fulfilling sort of love, and it represents one of the main preconditions for reaching the true purpose of human existence, which I have defined as the realization of the potential for creating entirely fulfilling relationships. However, it is most commonly found in people’s relationships with their pets (to the endless joy of the pet food manufacturers), but not with their neighbors. Accepting others unconditionally, such as they are, and supporting them enthusiastically in all their endeavors is still a rarely achieved ideal. Among the few who are actually able to understand and express merciful love are the black sheep.

But even this kind of love is insufficient for a black sheep to get out of her position. Aside from endless compassion and tolerance, creating harmonious relationships requires something else – the rear aspect of the heart chakra to be open. When discussing the characteristics of the heart chakra, the front aspect is always emphasized and rarely the rear one. So, what would the characteristics of the posterior aspect be? It is about tough, ruthless, and hard love, usually expressed in open confrontation. This is also love, although most people think of it as cruelty. To confront an alcoholic with his habit, you need to act firmly and strictly, using not only gentle words but also more explicit ones. If a person behaves destructively, then precisely because we love him, we must express our dissatisfaction with his behavior. We do that because we care and not because we don’t give a damn. That’s why “tough love” usually takes the form of telling the truth, however unpleasant it may be. And with being able to love mercilessly, we also take our personal power back and immediately get out of an unwanted situation, such as that of the black sheep.

So, merciless love is about fighting for love. It requires guts and heart, which are the characteristics of a fighter or a warrior. For example, King Richard the Lionheart of England was reputedly a mighty and courageous warrior (if we accept the version offered by official history). But he certainly didn’t gain this title by capering upon the blossomed meadows in his tights, occasionally smelling the flowers with sighs of admiration and the occasional tear. If he genuinely won all those battles, he couldn’t have done it by being soft and merciful only. He had to be merciless, too, and his hard-heartedness must have come from the rear aspect of the heart chakra being opened, from his courage and readiness to face a challenge, as well as from his ruthlessness towards his weaknesses. Merciless love must be based on compassion; otherwise, it turns into cruelty, but it cannot be ignored.

So, only when the merciful love typical for the front aspect of the heart chakra is supplemented by the ruthless love of the rear aspect will the black sheep be able to change her position by saying a historical “No!” to her oppressors. If the oppressors remonstrate, as they certainly will, the former black sheep can express her readiness to terminate any form of communication with them. However, not all oppressors use their aggressive or manipulative methods openly. Getting out of such a position is far more challengingif the oppressor starts blackmailing us with his weaknesses and appealing to our “understanding and compassion.” In any case, the black sheep must have previously gone through the process of dissolving toxic bonds with the family oppressor(s) and then with the family as a whole because any sudden exit from a former situation may leave her with a subtle sense of guilt.

Merciless love must also be followed by the readiness to assume responsibility for one’s own life and the willingness to accept some new forms of discipline, whatever this may mean for a particular individual. For example, it is not possible to say no and then keep on being materially dependent on the oppressor. The black sheep must be merciless towards herself first and then towards her oppressor, knowing that her ruthlessness is the only efficient means of realizing the desired aim – changing her position within the family. Only then can the black sheep ask her oppressor to accept responsibility for himself and to change his behavior. If the oppressor refuses to do this, then the former black sheep may continue with the strategy of separation and break off communication altogether, distancing herself physically from her family. Sometimes, there is no other way, and the former black sheep must be ready for an act like this.

So, it is not about cruelty here but the protection of one’s integrity and unwillingness to participate in a destructive relationship. The act of separation and communication breakdown usually has the effect of a cold shower on the family matrix and the person(s) in the role of the oppressor(s). They suddenly wake up from the illusion in which they have been living until this point and become aware of the importance of being connected, of what they actually get out of it, of how much it means to them, and how important it is for the connection to be sound and healthy. Emotionally immature people very often indulge in the abuse of others and are not aware of what they are doing until the relationship breaks down. Then, it quickly emerges who is really the weak side in the relationship – it is always the manipulator, the abuser, or the oppressor. He is the one who needs far more help. He has no idea what he actually gets out of the relationship and how important it is for the relationship to exist. For this reason, merciless love also includes responsibility towards the oppressor(s). A black sheep cannot entirely get rid of her role if she doesn’t help her oppressor(s) in a certain way, usually through blessings and encouraging them to take responsibility for their own lives.

Although the model brought out here may sound shocking to some, the good news is that we can transform it. It is only a matter of our choice whether we are going to stay inside this limiting pattern or get out of it because the technical means exist and can be applied anytime. The ecology of such a means is of the highest level, because the intervention is not done for the benefit of one side only. So, there only has to be the will, but it seems that even this is too much for some people. If a person doesn’t want to learn from his or her problem, no magic will remove it permanently. On the other hand, a readiness to assume responsibility for oneself and for one’s own change can easily enable the transformation of an almost infernal reality into a heavenly one. It is up to everyone to choose because no matter how entangled in complicated relationships we may be, we are still potentially free beings with the possibility of choice.

© Tomislav Budak, September 2005