Finding Balance Between Cultural Tradition and Your Own Interests

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Maybe you moved from one country to another, and your family is struggling to accept your embrace of a new culture. Or perhaps your parents moved to a new country with you when you are a child. As you’ve grown up, you’ve realized that your values don’t necessarily reflect the culture you were born into.

It can be difficult to find a balance between upholding your cultural traditions and living by your own set of principles. This is especially true for people from collective cultures who move to more individualistic countries like the United States. But it is possible to stay connected with your family’s culture while forging your own path.

Here are a few tips that will help you establish a healthy balance.

Process Your Feelings

First, it’s important to explore your own feelings in regards to your family’s culture and your own values. You may want to write in a journal to process your emotions, or even engage in another form of creative expression, like drawing or painting.

Be completely honest with yourself. If some of your feelings related to these cultural contrasts are painful, you can let it all out. You might feel frustrated by cultural expectations that you do not want to adhere to, or you might miss certain aspects of your family’s culture that are not valued in the US. There is no right or wrong way to feel. This is a deeply personal manner.

Uncover Your Own Values

As you dig deep into your feelings about both cultures that you’re part of, you can get clear on your own values. Maybe you do want to incorporate certain cultural traditions into your life that you felt like you had to leave behind.

Or perhaps you’ve realized that your personal values do not align with some popular beliefs in your family’s culture at all, and you no longer agree with some of your relatives on these topics. It can be uncomfortable to recognize this, but being honest with yourself can help you find a way forward.


When you understand what you truly value, you can begin to communicate with your family and your friends outside of your culture in a healthier way. You may have realized that some of your friends don’t understand aspects of your culture that are important to you, and you want to explain to them why these traditions matter.

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Alternatively, you might have to talk to your family about certain cultural customs or beliefs that you no longer feel comfortable with. It’s important to be patient during these conversations.

Set Healthy Boundaries

You and your family may not see eye to eye on everything. But that’s okay. It doesn’t mean that you can’t have healthy relationships with your relatives, or that you can’t still find common ground.

However, you may need to set boundaries within your familial relationships. You do not have to sacrifice all of your own needs and values for the sake of your family. It’s possible to carve out your own path while still respecting your background.

Work With a Therapist

What if you’re still struggling to navigate life between two cultures? Talking to a therapist who understands your multicultural background can help. It can be difficult to take a step back and look at your relationships objectively.

A therapist can help you find ways to develop healthier relationships with your relatives. You can do this while staying true to yourself and honoring your own unique identity.

Are you struggling to find your place between two cultures? Working with a therapist who specializes in counseling services for immigrants can help. Feel free to contact us at 916.740.6424 or

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