Decision Makers' Institute Show Up & Be Seen Course Request a Speaker Become a member Login

What to do when your family doesn't get you

You didn't choose your family

It’s so frustrating when family don’t get it. 

Whether it’s about your job or just how you want to live, the things you are tired of putting up with and just so over, it’s almost always a surprise when the people you are closest with… well surprise you about what you’re not on the same page about. 

They might ask you, “How long have you been hiding this from us? Why didn’t you tell us how you really felt in the first place?”

With other people, strangers, the guy in the grocery check out line, fine, you can give them the benefit of the doubt. Why would they get it? 

But family? 

They know you. 

But knowing you and taking the time to know you are different things. 

You think, “They know me.” 

But there’s those who “know you” and those who take the time to know you. 

And family because they “know you,” don’t take the time to know you. 

That’s why your brother assumes you did this for him and not for you when other people would just ask you. 

They assume what you do is because of the way they think are you and not because of where you are on your journey now or what has happened to make you feel like that or remember this or think like that. 

And that’s when the frustration turns to despair. 

Does no one know you? 

Not even the people you thought you were closest to you? 

Yes. Someone does. 

They wake up every morning, think about what you’ve done, what’s ahead of you, and they decide to stand by even if it feels like what you’ve been through is impossible - unimaginable. 

They are there at every meeting. 

They see every sideways glance directed your way. 

They are there at the end of the day to take a load off and start again. 

No, it’s not your shadow. 

It’s you. 

And so long as that’s true, you can figure out what it takes for other people to see you too.

3 Tips to Help People Get it

1. Don't make assumptions.

There's a whole lot of stuff you do in your life that your family doesn't see. So, it's really difficult for them to be on the same page as you if you assume they should know everything already. Instead, assume they don't know and try tip #2. 

2. Let your family see what you see. 

This could mean showing them what you love about sail boats, or why you started doing pottery. It could also be big things like the things your boss did at work that have lead to your decision to look for a new job. If you don't tell your family what has changed in your life and how you see things, you have to assume they don't know. This doesn't always have to be about telling them. Sometimes things go better when you show them why. Show them the boats on the river that you fell in love with. Or show them the nasty text the person sent you. 

3. Show them one step at a time.

Who you are and what you have learned on your journey was not the work of one minute. Not even an hour. Not even a day. 

The same is true for what you want your family to understand. It might take showing them the first baby step and then the second and then the third before they will really be able to see eye to eye with where you are at. 

Words are your superpower.

The way you communicate expresses your assumptions, perceptions, interpretations, and beliefs about the world. When you are dealing with people who have made assumptions about who you are and haven't taken much time to keep up with you on what's going on in your life, your words are your superpower to be precise and specific with. 

You can thank people for asking about something and say there have been some new developments that you would be happy to share with them if they were interested. 

Or you can show them in what ways their understanding is different from yours. 

Or you can help them see why something was hard for you and what you need to make things right. 

Your words are you power. Use them.

Click here to download a free template for what to say when you or someone you know is going through a hard time.


Enter your name and email below.

This is our official notice that we are collecting your email address with your explicit consent in order to email you this guide and when we write new stuff or have relevant news to share. We won’t give your email address to anyone else.