Screaming, sulking, pillow fights and contemplating strangulation – your sibling can elicit many adverse reactions when you’re growing up. As adults, life events like weddings, careers and more, change you, your sibling and your relationship – sometimes not for the better. Bury the hatchet, the knife, the machete and the hammer, along with sibling animosity, with three steps.
Get rid of Baggage
The first step is to discard any tension and judgment your parents may have unknowingly created between the two of you. “To make your relationship with your sibling work, you have to edit your parents out,” says psychologist Melisha Kar. We often carry a lot of what we have learned through our families with us, even down to identifying ourselves as the good or bad child or the favourite child or the successful one; this can spill over into adulthood. “Starting with a clean slate allows you to see your siblings in a new and, hopefully, more positive light,” adds Kar.
Break the ice
“If you aren’t talking to a sibling, start now,” says graphic designer Shalini Nair, 36. “My sister and I stopped talking to each other for over two years. But after my daughter Reya was born, my husband encouraged me to set my feelings aside because Reya would want an aunt in her life.” Shalini’s husband convinced her that the relationship with siblings is the longest relationship in life. “This helped me make the effort to break the ice,” says Nair.
Are you the Problem?
If you are afraid to trust your sibling or be open with them, ask yourself if the problem could be you. “The question might not be whether you can trust your sibling, but whether you can trust yourself to deal with whatever they do,” says psychologist Dr Phil McGraw. “Trust yourself to come out from behind your wall, deal with what happens, and love them through it. If you have feelings of jealousy towards your sibling, ask yourself if you’re really resentful of his/her success or whether you just have a need that isn’t being met.”
If you need your sibling to acknowledge, explain or apologise for something, tell them. You may not get the answer you want, but at least, the problem is now out in the open instead of you festering all the resentment.
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