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S2 EP154 – Are You Brave, or do You Cave?

Episode Summary

Are you brave enough to take the risk of staying true to yourself with your family and friends, even at the risk of being rejected by them, or do you cave out of your fear of rejection and of ending up alone?


Hi everyone. Dr. Margaret Paul here with the Inner Bonding podcast. Today I want to talk about a challenging issue, which is what do you do when you feel pressured by family or friends to conform to their values and ways of being in the world, when it goes against your values and your way of being in the world. Are you brave and stay true to yourself, or do you cave in to not feel alone?

I run in to this issue often with my clients. I call it a ‘tribal issue’ It’s hard to break from the tribe and risk rejection by your family or friends. Are you willing to be the black sheep with your tribe, or do you give yourself up to be how they expect you to be?

Often, people who start to practice Inner Bonding struggle with this issue. The more they heal, the less connected they may feel with their family and friends.

Have you noticed that as you do your inner healing work, some of your relationships change or fade or even vanish? Have you wondered why you might have fewer friends now than you did before you started on a healing path? Have you felt that you needed to reach out and try to make things right again with your family and friends, yet found yourself not knowing how to do this, or even if doing this is what you really want? Are you telling yourself that if you don’t fix these relationships, you will end up alone, with no family or friends?

Most of the people I work with go through a period where they seem to feel more distance from their family and have fewer friends. If their family and friends have not joined them on a healing journey, they find that they no longer have much in common with them, and this can be scary.

When you do Inner Bonding consistently, your frequency gets higher. The old saying “Birds of a feather flock together” is actually very true when it comes to relationships. We enjoy being with people whose vibration is similar to ours. So it makes sense that if you have been doing Inner Bonding and your family and friends haven’t, your frequencies may no longer line up. Previously, you might have been connecting with them at your common level of woundedness, and now you might be operating more from your loving adult.

While you may still love them, you might find that you just don’t connect with them the way you used to. As much as you may want to make things “right”, you know you really can’t – that there is nothing you can do to have the same level of connection as you did before with some of your friends and with some members of your family. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to let go of your older friends or family members. It means that you need to accept the level of loneliness or disconnection that you have with them and not expect it to be different than it is. It means that you need to learn how to manage the feelings of loneliness and disconnection from others.

The challenge is to have the faith that new friends will eventually come into your life, and that some of your family connections might eventually even deepen. I reassure people over and over that new friends WILL come in – it will just take time. Since “like attracts like,” you will eventually draw in people with whom you can connect on the deeper level that you may now be wanting in your relationships.

Instead of scaring your inner child with statements such as “We will end up alone without friends,” or telling yourself that “there must be something wrong with me that I’m losing friends or that I can’t connect with my family and friends anymore, ” or “I have to do something to fix my old friendships but I don’t know what to do,” it would be far better to tell yourself that it is normal for relationships to change as you change.

However, while you will undoubtedly meet new, like-minded friends, you can’t choose a new family of origin. You can create your own new family, but it can be very challenging to be brave enough to be true to yourself regarding your family of origin.

The people who are attracted to Inner Bonding are often people who have always been more open, kind, caring, and sensitive than the rest of their family. As a result of being different than the rest of their family, they’ve often been scapegoated in their family of origin, which goes on in many families. Often, my clients who are the different ones in their family try very hard to comply and be like the rest of the family, but this never works. Families who scapegoat are families who are threatened by your higher frequency, and no matter how much you try to comply to fit in, they will continue to be threatened by you. And the more you grow, the more threatened they will be. So it takes great courage and bravery to continue on your healing path and risk losing your family.

But do you really want to be like your family if your family is harsh, critical, judgmental, angry, blaming, and see themselves as victims? Do you really want to stay stuck in your wounded self like your family of origin might be? Many of my clients say that they don’t want to be like their family, yet they have absorbed the wounded self from their family and continue to treat themselves the way they were treated and the way their parents or other caregivers treated themselves.

Alexa asked me in one of my Inner Bonding Community sessions:

“My mother and my grandmother and most of the people I learned life from, never loved themselves. I know I don’t want to be like them, but the reality is I am! I have changed but not as much as I want. Can you please teach me how to fix this suffering from my wounded self?”

I completely understand how much Alexa wants to be different than her mother and her grandmother. Years ago, I was suffering exactly as she is.

The main things that caused my suffering were self-abandonment and disconnection from my spiritual guidance. I look back on many years of suffering due to abandoning myself in so many different ways:

  • I used to cause my suffering by ignoring my feelings and instead focusing on fixing and controlling others’ feelings.
  • I used to constantly judge myself, telling myself that I wasn’t good enough, that there was something essentially wrong with me, and telling myself I had to be perfect to control how others felt about me.
  • I used to numb out my feelings, avoiding responsibility for them with my addictions to food, caretaking, anger, and judgment.
  • I used to make others responsible for my feelings of worth and safety, – feeling like a victim when others didn’t care about me or were mean to me – not realizing that they were treating me the way I was treating myself.
  • As much as I tried to connect with my guidance, my frequency was too low to access the love and wisdom that is here for all of us, so I always felt very alone.

My many years of therapy did very little to relieve my suffering.

When spirit brought us Inner Bonding, everything changed for me.
Now my life is filled with so much inner peace and joy, for which I am so grateful. Life is totally different now because I live in connection with my guidance, loving myself and others moment-by-moment. But in order to do this, I had to be brave and have the courage to be very different than the rest of my family.

  • I had to have the courage to stop ignoring my feelings and trying to fix others and be brave enough to be present in my body, connected with my feelings. I had to have the courage to truly care about others’ feelings rather than trying to control them to get them to care about my feelings.
  • I had to have the courage to stop judging myself in order to try to have control over getting myself to do things ‘right’ to get approval. Instead, I needed to be brave enough to learn to see and deeply appreciate my own soul. I had to have the courage to take all the pressure off my inner child by telling her that it’s okay to make mistakes and make a fool of herself – that I will love her no matter what. This is a great freedom, but it took a lot of courage for me to do this.
  • I had to have the courage to stop numbing my feelings with my addictions to food, caretaking, anger, and judgment. Now, I have no reason to want to numb my feelings because I love learning from them. They are my inner guidance and the last thing I want to do now is numb them out. Now, I know how to lovingly manage the deeper pain of life – the loneliness, grief, heartbreak, and helplessness of life – so I don’t need to do anything to avoid these feelings.
  • I had to have the courage to take full responsibility for all my own feelings rather than giving my inner child away to others to love and define.
  • I had to be brave enough to live the kind of life consistent with what my soul wants, rather than the life my family wanted me to live. I had to have the courage to be very different than my family and experience the scapegoating, judgments, and rejection of some members of my family.
  • Having grown up in an atheist family, I had to be brave enough to open to my higher guidance, even when I didn’t believe that something would be there for me.  Now, allowing my guidance to guide me, rather than my wounded self, brings me so much peace, joy, and the ability to manifest my dreams!

All this is the outcome of diligently practicing Inner Bonding, which developed my brave and courageous loving adult. It’s not easy, but it’s so worth it!

Sometimes, your family of origin is so dysfunctional that you need to be willing to disengage from them to live a life that is true to your soul. 

Do feelings of fear and obligation stop you from disengaging from your family of origin if they are abusive to you? You might want to reconsider this decision.

We have often been told to “Honor Thy Father and Thy Mother.”

But what if your father and mother didn’t honor you? What if instead of loving and honoring you, they physically, sexually, and emotionally abused you or neglected you? What if you were scared every day of your growing up years? And what if, when you finally grew up and started to face the fact that your family of origin abused you, and through some therapy finally gained the courage to confront them with the abuse, they completely denied it and told you that you are crazy? Do you stay in that family system or leave it? It takes bravery and courage to leave it.

There is little cultural sympathy, support, information, or education for adult children who are starting to face the fact that their family of origin abused them, and often their abusive family is still trying to get them to stay in the family system and play their programmed role.

One of the members of our Inner Bonding website wrote to me about this topic. She wrote, “I see so many adults suffering in family relationships they believe they’re supposed to maintain, regardless of the cost to their integrity and health. More than anything, they’re lacking alternative role models and supportive information.”

Most people can’t even conceive of how or why exiting a family of origin might be a very loving action.

If you come from a highly abusive family who has done no healing and is in denial of the abuse, this is a deeply crazy-making situation. Staying in this situation may perpetuate the abuse that you are trying to heal. As a child, you didn’t have a choice, but as an adult, you don’t have to stay in a currently abusive and crazy-making situation, regardless of the pressure being put upon you. You don’t have to cave into them. You can do your inner work and become brave enough to stop giving yourself up.

What is important here is to understand that you are not responsible for how your family feels about and reacts if you decide to disengage from them. While you might have been brought up to play the role of caretaker for your family, or you have played the role of the identified patient, you are not obligated to continue to play that role. In fact, healing involves letting go of responsibility for them and giving yourself the right and privilege of taking responsibility for yourself. But there is no doubt that this takes courage.

For example, Tara had been physically, sexually, and emotionally brutalized by her father and not at all protected by her mother. Her parents continue to expect her to visit them, and she continues to tolerate her father’s incredibly mean behavior.

“Why do you visit them?” I asked her in one of our sessions.

“Obligation,” she said

“Why are you obligated?” I asked.

“Because they say I am,” she answered.

“Tara,” I said, “please open to your guidance and ask if it is loving to you – to your inner child – to continue to put yourself in that abusive situation.”

Taking a moment, she quietly said “…..No.”

“Are you willing to make taking loving care of yourself more important than obligation?” I asked?

“Yes!” she said, “but I didn’t know that it was okay to do that!”

“How do you feel?” I asked.

“So relieved!” she answered.

Tara could still honor her father and mother if she wanted to, but from a distance.

“Tara,” I said, “you can still pray for your parents’ highest good without having to see them. You can still honor the deeply abandoned soul locked away within each of them, without dishonoring yourself by being around abusive behavior. Your responsibility is to take loving care of yourself and share your love with those who love you, rather than allowing yourself to continue to be abused.”  

You do not owe your parents for having you, or for feeding and clothing you. You are not obligated to see them. You might choose to take care of them out of your caring for them, or even because it feels right to you to do that, but when being around them is deeply harmful to you, you might want to consider having the courage to disengage from them.

Of course, it’s challenging to make the decision to let go of abusive family relationships.

Ruth consulted with me because she was confused about what to do regarding her mother, her brother, and her son.

From the time Ruth was born, she never felt like she belonged in her family. Her mother ignored Ruth, obviously preferring her brother, and consistently allowed her brother to beat up Ruth. Ruth had some connection with her father, but he was a weak man and never stood up for her or protected her.

Ruth was a loving child and tried in any way she could to please her mother and brother, to no avail. She could never understand why her family didn’t like her.

As an adult, she married an emotionally unavailable man, a man very much like her mother. As with her mother and brother, she tried in many ways to get his love and never succeeded. Her son, Dylan, was eight years old when they divorced.

Dylan always seemed to prefer his father, and finally went to live with his father when he was sixteen. Once again, Ruth was completely in the dark regarding why her son didn’t like her. She had been such a devoted mother, so why was he rejecting her?

Ruth finally married again, this time to a loving man, and had another child. Her current family was totally different from her previous family and from her family of origin. However, she still hoped to have a relationship with her mother. She would send her mother birthday and Christmas cards, but rarely heard from her. The final blow that sent her to seek my help came when she found out that her son had gotten married without telling her, and that her brother had moved her mother into a nursing home and sold everything without telling her. 

Ruth was a shining light of love. Her eyes, her smile, her gestures all radiated love and compassion. Her deeply gentle and peaceful nature was evident at first glance.

“Why?” she asked. “Why don’t they like me?”

“Because you are a giver and they are takers,” I told her. “Givers care about others, while takers just want to take from others. You can never give enough to a taker to receive any caring back, because they don’t like themselves. They reject themselves and then try to get others to give to them. Because they have emotionally abandoned themselves, they are angry at others for not giving enough to them. Your mother and brother were united in their taking from you, as were your first husband and son. They look at you and see a fountain of love coming from you and they want it, but they are incapable of receiving it. Your high frequency is threatening to them because they are not capable of loving the way you love. Your light contrasts with their darkness and they resent you for it. “

“What can I do?” she asked.

“Ruth,” I said, “unless you want to dim your own light and become like them, which I know you don’t want to do, there is nothing you can do other than not be around them. They will suck the life out of you if you spend time with them. I know you care about them, but they are incapable of caring about themselves or you, so the only thing you can do to take loving care of yourself is to let them go. It is not in your highest good to be with people who are incapable of valuing you – who just want to take from you, and who continue to abuse you”

“But can’t I help them?” she asked.

“No,” I answered, “because they are not asking for help. I know you have believed that if you just love them enough, they will heal and love you back, but this will never happen because they are not open to your love. They feel inadequate in the face of your open heart and their closed hearts, and they take their self-judgment out on you. There is nothing you can to do to help them open their hearts. Only they can do that. It is unlikely your mother or brother will ever open their hearts, but perhaps your son will in time. He will come to you if he does.”

“But I have such a great life now. Isn’t it selfish of me to just let them go?” she asked.

“No,” I said, “it is self-responsible. It is not loving to yourself to be around people who treat you badly.”

Ruth understood. She felt sad, but relieved. She finally had the courage to let them go in order to be loving and true to herself. She saw that all she could do for them was pray for them to open their hearts.

I encourage you to be honest with yourself. Do you cave in to family and friends, abandoning yourself to try to have control over not being rejected by them, or are you brave and have the courage to make loving yourself more important than trying to control getting love from your family and friends? I know there is a deep desire to be a part of your tribe, but if you are caving in, is it worth it?

My freedom from being the scapegoat in my family came when I had the courage to be willing to end up alone rather than continue to lose myself. Unfortunately, I had to become very ill to finally have the courage to make this choice. I hope, if your family or friends are not loving to you, you don’t wait as long as I did to choose to love yourself rather than give yourself up to caretake them. I hope you are brave enough to tune into to what is truly loving to you and not stay stuck in an unloving situation out of fear, obligation, or guilt. I hope you have the courage to listen to your inner and higher guidance rather than to your wounded self.

And, I hope you join me for my 30-Day at-home Course to learn or deepen your Inner Bonding practice: “Love Yourself: An Inner Bonding Experience to Heal Anxiety, Depression, Shame, Addictions and Relationships.”

You can learn so much about loving yourself and creating loving relationships from my recent books:

And we have much to offer you at our website at

I’m sending you my love and my blessings.

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