Who do you call when you need advice? A shoulder to lean on? An ear to listen? Madisyn Taylor explains why you should strengthen your bonds with others to create a support system that will be with you through thick and thin.
Not everybody is born into a family they love and adore. Some feel like they are the black sheep of the family and wonder if they are even related to their family at all because they feel so different. I always find these types of people to be the ones who have a great capacity for helping to create change in the world.

For those people who feel they have toxic family relationships, there are still ways to be in the world and feel wholly loved, as well as have a sense of belonging. More and more I hear stories about how people, the "black sheep," are making new families—ones they get to choose—when they're older in their life. They surround themselves with true, loving relationships.

It's key that you have people in your life who you love unconditionally—meaning you accept the good and the bad. It really doesn't matter if they are related by blood or not; what matters is the commitment of friendship. As with all relationships, there will be ups and downs and perhaps periods of emotional departure when one person is doing some self-exploration. It's when you keep your relationships together during these explorations that you make close and lasting bonds. However, sometimes you do part ways as you take different paths in your life, and that's okay too.

For those who have a loving relationship with their families, it's possible to create an even deeper connection with them if you choose to do so. There is no end to how deeply you can connect with those with whom you wish to be in a relationship. The layers are endless.

Whether you create your own family unit or use the one you have, it is vital to your well-being that you have these close relationships in your life. Sometimes you distance yourself from people you love by self-sabotaging, for example. You keep them at arm's length, just close enough to be friends with, but not close enough to be truly intimate with them on an emotional level. If you are somebody who has been hurt in the past, you may have created these types of friendships. See if any of these scenarios apply to you:

  • You aren't sure what love is or how to be in a relationship with others, including friends or lovers.

  • You were hurt in a past relationship, and now you are careful to keep your emotional distance.

  • You like your family, but don't necessarily want to hang out with them.

  • You have a lot of friends, but you don't have a best friend.

  • You never cry in front of your friends and family.

  • You tend not to hang out in groups of friends.

  • Your friends don't know each other, because you keep them separated.
I don't think I've ever met a person who doesn't have some emotional wounds, but they can heal if you take the right steps. Unfortunately, time doesn't heal all wounds. Time doesn't really do anything—what does do something is taking action. Nobody wants to feel vulnerable. You don't want your heart to be stomped on again, you don't want to be taken advantage of, and you don't want to appear weak. What I'm asking from you now is to take a big leap, muster all the courage you have inside and go to the next level. Interacting with other people on a conscious and aware level and being deep and real with your feelings can bring you amazing rewards and true happiness.

So often I see people who seem to have everything they have ever desired. What's missing? Meaningful relationships, like friendships that feed their soul and make them want to be the best person they can be.

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