While we do not have a choice of the family we are born into, we can choose the people we call our family.

And that is okay!

Last night I was at dinner with my Dad and he introduced me to a man who he has known for a long time. As I talked with this man I noticed that he seemed sad. He was not sad about his life choices, he was sad about not having a relationship with his family. He felt betrayed by his family.

This left me thinking: What is family? Is it your “crazy” Uncle that makes everyone at dinner squirm and leaves you with your anxiety jumping from a 2 to a 10 within a matter of seconds? Or is it your best friend who calls and leaves you a voicemail, knowing you won’t pick up, because they know your day is filled with stress, but just wants you to know they are there for you.

Many people feel alone because they do not receive the love and support that they expect from their family. As I was thinking more about this conversation this morning I again was left with the thought: It is important to pick your own family. It is okay to pick your family.

Once you are able to see that all families are different and can include friends, brothers, pets, even your favorite teacher from high school, you will feel less alone. So take a few minutes and think…. “Who makes up my family?”

Here are some questions to help get you started:

  1. Who do you feel safe , emotionally safe, around? Who in your life makes you feel like you can just be you?
  2. Who have you lived with? Who have you gone through ups and downs, twists and turns, with and still end up next to? Who has seen you fail, succeed and is always was there to hold your hand?
  3. Who in your life makes you feel like a stronger person?
  4. Who knows you so well that they can tell by your voice how you are doing?
  5. Who is the person that you could not picture your life without?

If you are feeling turmoil due to having family conflict remember that you can not control who you share blood with but you are in control of who is your true family.

Editor’s Note: This post was contributed by EWN psychotherapist Kate Maleski, LCSW-R

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How do you define your family? Did you create your own close circle? How did you do it? Please share your experience with us. Click on the “Comments” tab at top. or below this post.