By Micara Link
I love the holidays. It is my favorite time of year, but every year I have to deal with my sister. I love her, but she’s rude, mean, and always tries to make me feel worse about myself. I’ve tried standing up for myself and have spoken my truth, but it hasn’t helped. I have gone through a very tough year and want the holiday to be a time of gratitude and joy. How do I best deal with my sister? Do you have any advice?
I feel for you. You know the saying, you can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your family. So true, isn’t it? This isn’t the easiest situation because often times sibling relationships are very complex. From my experience in working through similar issues, I offer you a few suggestions that will hopefully help you make this holiday season a little brighter.
1. Realize and accept that you cannot change her behavior and actions. I know this might be the last thing you want to do. You don’t want to accept that she’s mean and hurtful, but that just might be the case. It does no good for you to keep lying to yourself and expecting her to be someone she’s not. I know you probably wish that you and your sister could get along and be close friends. Most of us want all of our relationships to be healthy and fulfilling, but it’s a fact that not all of them are going to pan-out that way. You can hope, wish, and expect your sister to change, but until she makes that decision herself, she will remain the same. The best thing you can do for yourself to accept that. When you accept your sister for who she is and where she’s at, you release yourself from the pain and resentment of wanting something else. Your acceptance will free you from any false expectations.
2. Set boundaries for yourself on what you are willing to do and put up with. Maybe you gently tell your sister that you will no longer be able to participate in a relationship with her if she continues to treat you disrespectfully. This statement alone will change your entire dynamic. She might realize that she has been hurtful and decide right then and there to change, or she might get really defensive. Either way stand your ground. Know that you deserve to be treated with respect. Figure out what feels like the best boundaries and limitations for yourself. We each are different. Some people might decide not to be in the same house as the other person, while others might decide not to engage in lengthy conversations. It’s up to you, but the most important thing is that these boundaries come from self-love and empowerment. You no longer have to put up with disrespectful behavior and these boundaries will help you stand up for yourself.
3. Change your reaction to her behavior. This is one that might take a couple tries, but once you get it, it’s so nice to be able to choose how you react! Next time she does something that upsets you, rather than unconsciously reacting, pause for a moment, and choose another reaction. We all have triggers that make us immediately upset, especially with someone like a sibling, so this is going to take commitment on your part to be aware of your own behavior and then consciously choosing to react in a way that feels better for you.
4. Remember that you are taking these actions out of self love. Sometimes really unhappy people will try to make you feel guilty for standing up for yourself. So, when you start making different, positive choices in your life and the unhappy person isn’t getting the response they are used to from you, they might start attacking more aggressively. Remember that happy people aren’t mean to other people. She might be so unhappy with herself that she subconsciously wants others to feel just as unhappy. I know that you don’t want to be unhappy with her anymore, so setting boundaries, choosing to react differently, and making these positive changes are out of self love and the desire to live a more healthy life. Good job! You deserve it!
5. Last but definitely not least, have a heart-to-heart conversation with her. Deep down inside your sister probably wants to get along too. She wants a healthy relationship just like you do, but there’s probably some old resentments blocking the way. Set up some ground rules before you start the conversation. Allow each other to speak from the heart. Speak with, “I feel…” statements rather than attacking statements like, “You always…!” Share from your point of view, from your heart, and from your feelings. Then talk about how you’d like things to change. Tell her that you love her, hopefully she’ll say the same. Listen without judgment. Forgive each other. Take responsibility for your actions. Miracles can be created with this type of interaction. Believe me, I’ve done it.
I hope that these suggestions will bring more peace to your holiday season. I know it might not be easy and might feel scary to stand up for yourself, but you won’t know if it will work until you try. You have my support as you take steps forward in self love and empowerment. I know you can do it! Visualize the end result. See you and your sister getting along wonderfully! Visualize that both of you come to a place where you can respect and love one another without resentment and judgment. Doesn’t that feel good?!
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