Being Unwanted by Your Family

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It's time to tackle a monster together. Are you ready?

If you've grown up feeling unwanted by your family, I hope you are ready. This beast of being unwanted haunts people and ruins their whole lives. There is nothing quite so profoundly debilitating as the feeling of being unwanted, and feeling unwanted by the people who raised you. It is a deep, deep wound. Feeling unwanted in part or all of childhood becomes a massive core issue that makes a person never ever feel good enough despite anything they do. Even if their families later come to a point where they can make amends, the damage done in childhood is difficult to uproot.

Worse still many families will never make amends or acknowledge any wrongdoing, and so people who are unwanted will be forced to go into this core pain without family help. That tends to run counter to one of the beliefs that many families teach which is that the family is there to help them. Conflicting messages of "your family doesn't want you" and "your family is here to help you" create a lot of self-doubt and confusion. Truly, family issues are a sticky and knotty bundle of stuff.

Today, I'm here to help you unwind this issue of being unwanted and help you go further in resolving this deep sense of personal invalidation so that you can be free of it.

Being Put up for Adoption

If there is one truly obvious and unequivocal sign of being unwanted, it's being put up for adoption. The age of adoption determines how much actual memory is associated with this process of being given up, and there is also the situation of how and if adopted parents tell the child that s/he is adopted. However, the over-riding message of adoption is clear--their biological parents didn't want them. That can cut deep for a lot of people even when they have loving and kind adopted parents. It probably cuts deeper when a person doesn't have kind or caring adopted parents. The fact that people can adopt a child and not really care or be very kind to the child may be surprising, but people adopt children for a wide variety of reasons. Additionally, it's not always the case that both partners want to take the journey to parenting. Sometimes, it's one more than the other, and sometimes, it's just one. That can add more confusion and rejection to the sense of being unwanted, and that's deeply wounding.

Kept But Not Wanted by Biological Parents

For a variety of reasons, some parents have a child they don't want. Sometimes, it's an accidental conception, but other times, people become parents because it's what they believe they're supposed to do. It's more like marking a checkbox on the big to-do list of living, and this, of course, is not a healthy way to become a parent.

How to Become a Better Spiritual Parent

Because of these and other unconscious paths to parenting, parents may feel burdened by the child in many ways and simply not want to have the child or to be a parent. The resulting responses to the child cover a large spectrum of actions. The least aggressive form of unwanting is when a child is never physically or emotionally abused directly. They simply have a sense from their parents that they're a burden or are unwanted. This could take the form of being neglected in some way. The other end of the spectrum is when the child is physically and emotionally abused. They may be told that they're worthless and that the parent or parents never wanted him or her. Truly, this scenario is a sad reality, but it happens. Some of you may be healing such a trauma.

Healing Past Trauma, Issues, and Forgotten Memories

The tricky thing for those who didn't have aggressive abusive treatment is that being unwanted becomes a vague feeling with few or no incidents to which to point. That can make some people feel like they're making up the issue of being unwanted. With nothing concrete to point to, many people doubt themselves, yet the wound is real. This is what I call a silent wound. Nothing overtly bad directly happened to the person, but the message that they are unwanted ABSOLUTELY was communicated. It's usually through a lot of inner work and talking with people from other families that the person starts to get perspective on different ways families interact and gradually piece together the puzzle of why they feel the way they do.

Healing Silent Wounds

Feeling Like You Shouldn't Even Exist

The feeling of being unwanted can escalate to the overall sense that the person shouldn't exist. They can get lost in a sea of despair, and the depth of this unwantedness makes some people even consider suicide. It can seem like the only way to escape this debilitating issue.

If that is something you struggle with, I strongly recommend clicking over to one of these suicide hotlines or find one that is appropriate in your country/region. I am not set up for emergencies of any kind, but these organizations are.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

NHS--Suicide--Getting Help (UK)

Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention

Lifeline: Crisis Support and Suicide Prevention (Australia)

The problem is that a person is so identified with a feeling that they don't realize that have a choice in the matter, but they do. In deciding to take control of that choice and face the feeling of being unwanted, a person can take a critical step back from the brink of a truly terrible choice like suicide.

Exhausted by Feeling Unwanted

This issue of being unwanted is, as I said, a monster. It requires a lot of work, but the rewards of releasing a core issue are immense. Core issues underpin tons of behaviors and other issues, and that means every day people are expending tons of energy to act out these issues. It's truly exhausting. But if it is released, then that person has all that energy returned to them. It's no longer being expended in countless unhealthy ways.

The number of ways someone can act out the issue of feeling unwanted are considerable, but here's one example to give you a sense of how this core issue can work. A person--let's call her Marla--is unwanted by her mother, a single mom of two. Her mother has told her that she didn't want Marla, but otherwise her mother never physically harmed her. Regardless of the lack of physical trauma, many other interactions with her mother left Marla feeling unwanted, and very quickly she developed a profound need for love and validation. This turned into a mid-level issue of being a people-pleaser. Her attempts to please any and everyone extends past her family to everyone in her life, including lovers, friends, romantic partners, co-workers, employers, and more. She also becomes hyper-sensitive to criticism, and she over-works herself to do whatever it is she thinks she needs to get approval. The over-working issue is the top-level issue, and it's the one some of her friends look at and wonder why she does it. They'll say, "Hey, Marla. You don't have to work so hard. You're fine." Maybe even her boss says that. But it does no good because the core issue is in tact. This over-working can get so bad that she starts to supplement with energy boosters to keep herself going and then depressants like alcohol to try and slow herself down. As she continues to act this issue out, she becomes addicted to alcohol, and now everyone can see she has a problem.

This is one of countless example stories of how being unwanted impacts multiple parts of someone's life, but I hope it offers some insight on how core issues grow up in a tangled mass of other issues. Too often, people only see the over-working or addiction issues, and they think a person like Marla just needs to fix those things. The upshot is that most people will have no idea what the core issue is, and too many people get stuck grappling with top-level issues that just grow back or change shape.

How to Break Out of Repeating Issues

Going to the Root Issue

I've extensively mapped out "Marla's" journey to help you understand how issues work if you are unfamiliar. This mapping technique can be helpful to do in a journal, or--for those who are artistic--you can draw it out. The drawing process can be particularly useful because you'll see how certain issues come up again and again. They are the causes for many other top-level issues--which are the issues that most people see and focus upon. The journey to understanding all of these issues is key. We don't skip steps on this spiritual path. Every now and then, a few leaps ahead are possible, but that's Divine grace. Don't expect all issues to just evaporate without getting serious about understanding them and where they come from. After all, you are the one acting them out every day. If you don't understand how you act them out or how you believe in them, then it's easy for one top-level issue to get released one day, but then you create a new behavior pattern out of the same sense of being unwanted. So alcohol addiction goes away, and now the person is addicted to working out in an attempt to feel good and feel wanted by other people for their looks.

With all that said, we end up back in the "feel to heal" paradigm that I discuss so much on this spiritual awakening blog. There's a lot of feeling connected to feeling unwanted, and in particular there's a lot of grieving. When a person starts to truly grieve an issue, they're digging down into the heart-level of the work. We don't get lost in emotions here. Rather we learn to feel them and witness them. The witness within you is the Divine space you most directly access. It is always there, and it is always still. This pure stillness is our connection to oneness, and in that space, all these old parts and pieces of us can be grieved and dissolved back into oneness. That includes dissolving powerful feelings and beliefs that you are unwanted.

However, dissolving is messy. A lot of upset feelings are going to come up. It's okay to feel things. That's still part of the spiritual path because the spiritual path leaves nothing out. The key is to not fuel the story. Feeling an issue come up isn't about saying, "Oh poor me. I was unwanted!" That grief can come emotionally, but it's important to not believe that you should feel sorry for yourself. Otherwise, a person will recycle the pain and get stuck in a riptide of never-ending self-pity.

After a Spiritual Awakening Unleashes All Your Emotions

Patience and Dedication in Spiritual Healing

The bigger the issue, the longer it generally takes to unwind and release. So have patience. Be dedicated. There's no super spiritual pill to swallow to dissolve feeling unwanted. Even when someone awakens, they're usually given only a respite from that and other issues. After the initial time of awakening, many issues come back. Now the work begins. But the spiritual awakening or opening where the person felt what it was like to be okay as they are is powerful. If a person knows what it is like to no longer feel unwanted, they now have perspective that such a human experience is possible. Now, they can work on finding their way back to that space of peace and notice all the ways they feel unwanted that need to be healed.

What Is a Spiritual Awakening?

Everyone works on differently levels of this issue because everyone is at different levels of understanding in self-inquiry. Additionally, people who feel unwanted have had varying experiences with that issue. The more traumatic the experience, the more work and support is needed. For those who are brand new to inner work like "Marla," they may need to go to an addiction counselor before doing much else with the feeling of being unwanted because that's the first level that needs healing. She can't skip the detox phase that she needs to do. After that, she'll have to understand more about how she got to the state of being an addict. For someone else who is past that, they may be working at the need for validation mid-level issue that I suggested in the earlier example. That's a fairly massive issue in and of itself. But with time, patience, and love, that issue will break down.

For those who are new to spiritual inquiry, you may find my ebook helpful:

Everyday Spirituality: Cultivating an Awakening

Enmeshed Core Issues

Unfortunately, the biggest core issues like to enmesh themselves with other issues. The feeling of being unwanted gets enmeshed with a lack of self-worth issue, and that could be enmeshed with scarcity fears (e.g. fears of not having enough money). These massive core issues are the foundations of many people's whole egos. Worse yet, many societies and communities legitimize these issues in all kinds of ways. In Western Culture, the message that you should be scared if you don't have a lot of money and happy if you do gets replayed via conversations, media, and so many other ways again and again. That makes this and many other core issues hidden in plain sight. Once you know what to look for, however, they're not hard to find.

But when they are so commonly accepted and enacted by others including family, it can be challenging to find your way out. That search for help sends more than a few people onto the spiritual path, and hopefully it should be obvious that this is the way out. Through self-inquiry and inner work, people can learn to find and address their issues like being unwanted. Through surrender, issues break down. These old thoughts, feelings, and body sensations about not feeling wanted can't exist without the person giving energy to them through belief and action. However, it's usually so ingrained in the person to fuel the belief and feeling that they are unwanted that the issue seems unstoppable at first.

But that's not true.

It's just a matter of dedication. Through dedication, a person can break free of feeling unwanted and discover how much true love is already within them and which has always been there.

For some more thoughts on working with this issue, you may appreciate these posts:

Unwriting Family Beliefs and Behavior Patterns

Uncovering Core Issues

Opening to New Layers of Love

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