How to Overcome Family Pressure to Be in a Religion

Religion and values are often instilled as a result of family or community norms. There are geographical areas where sects or groups of very similar religions and beliefs have settled. The prevalence in certain areas of similar belief systems and norms can prove daunting for anyone who comes to believe differently. If you have come to the realization that the religion and/or beliefs and values of your family or community are not in sync with your own, you may have a very hard time with being accepted and respected for who you are.


This article is written to help you understand what to do to help yourself in this situation. Often, historically, families rejected dissimilar beliefs of family or community members. This caused social distancing and even sometimes forced a geographic relocation. This does not have to happen. There are ways of resolving these often unspoken conflicts and coming to a better communal existence. It takes persistence, patience and understanding on both sides of healthy relationships in order to accomplish a comfortable existence.

Steps

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    Find others who do believe similarly to yourself. Maybe you live in an area where there are few or no others who think exactly like you do. But somehow make a connection with another who feels or thinks very similarly and/or is very accepting to you as a person. This will bolster your own confidence in speaking up about your need to be accepted/respected by others. Often, once you have friends/family who believe similarly to yourself, you will feel supported enough to discuss openly your need for further social acceptance. Finding that accepting friend or family member might be achieved through seeking a social group or social network outside of your own neighborhood or family group.
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    Often the problem of feeling left out or unaccepted is somewhat of a construct in your own mind. If it is at all possible, openly ask the family and friends you have about their acceptance of your beliefs and values. If you can ask for a conversation, you are already on the road to coming to terms about what it means for you to believe differently and still be able to successfully seek social acceptance.Sometimes once you establish your stance on certain beliefs or norms, others are more accepting than you might have anticipated. At the very least, you will have established their viewpoint rather than your assumption.
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    Know yourself and your own needs. Whenever you recognize resistance or especially if you experience open hostility for your beliefs, you must evaluate your position. Recognize, establish and accept your own need for maintaining social connections despite differences of belief systems. This will help you decide how much you are willing to do on your end of the relationship.
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    Do not try to take on a discussion with a whole group of family or friends at once. Usually, sorting out your relationships is easier to do one on one.
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    Try not to use a holiday get-together as your opportunity to discuss differences with another for the first time. Take an understanding friend with you to any gathering where there is going to be heavy symbolism and/or rituals that are specific to others belief systems. Try to keep yourself open minded in how you react to these outward demonstrations of faith or values. Think of how you would react if you were attending the rituals of a tribe or group in a foreign country.
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    Avoid situations where the planned activities are going to disrupt you emotionally due to strong conflict with your beliefs. You must accept yourself, respect your own need for sanctity of your beliefs as a first step in having others understand and respect you. Discreetly avoiding specific situations will not always be a viable alternative, but it is one tool that you can use at times to prevent open conflict in family or group gatherings.
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    When you have an opportunity to open up a conversation around dissimilar beliefs you should try initially to discuss your position with as little emotion as possible. Also, ask permission to discuss giving the other person a chance to establish some control over the discussion.
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    Once you have come to an agreement on a good time to talk with another, you should prepare yourself for the meeting. Review your feelings about how having your own beliefs which differ has affected your existence in the family/group/community. Be ready to discuss how you feel, without allowing the emotional impact of that feeling interfere with expressing your stance clearly. This is a difficult step. But allowing yourself to become demonstrably emotional while asking for understanding, can foster a weakening of your position. It can make your decision to stay rooted in your own beliefs seem less firm.
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    Once you meet with another try to let them have equal time to share their feelings and their position. Let them express openly how your beliefs and your stance make them feel. It is healthy to give them compassionate understanding, as that is exactly what you are wanting to obtain from them in return.
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    Remind others of the importance to you of getting their approval. You are, in fact, endeavoring to speak up about not just your right to have separate and distinct beliefs. You also are speaking up about your need for family and community relationships to be warmly experienced.
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    An important thing to remember is that with any difference, there are almost always, many, many similarities. This is the way to build a relationship with another on a firm foundation. You must find, embrace and remind them often of how very similar you are to them in many ways.
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    Lastly, congratulations! If you are attempting to follow these steps to improve your relationships with family or community members then you are a fantastic human being who recognizes the importance of familial and communal belonging! Social acceptance is one of our most basic needs!

Article Info

Categories: Philosophy and Religion