You’re a grown, independent woman living on your own in a kickass apartment, with the creative job of your dreams and a squad you love — and you have the best friend tattoos to prove it. You’re a total rockstar, in other words. And yet those adolescent feelings of sibling rivalry creep up every time you get off the phone with your older sister sharing the news of her recent promotion and perfect Pinterest summer vacation to New Zealand. Ugh. They’re totally natural feelings, but not ones you want to expend any of your precious energy fighting. So how to best combat them? Read on for four easy tips that’ll have you genuinely celebrating #NationalSiblingDay next year.
1. Recognize that anger and resentment are actually manifestations of hurt or frustration. Dr. Phil McGraw (yes, that Dr. Phil) suggests you ask yourself: “If you had to take anger out of your vocabulary when discussing your relationship with your sibling and replace it with ‘It hurts me… ,’ what would you say?” If you find yourself jealous of your younger brother because he got a new job while you’re still looking, ask yourself if it hurts you that he got a new job. Probably not. Instead, you’re frustrated that you haven’t found one yet and his success may just be bringing up your own disappointment. Properly identifying your emotions can be a powerful tool in zapping rivalry.
2. Invest your time and energy elsewhere. If your older sister’s bragging about her “perfect relationship” tends to get you down (especially after those epically bad first dates), make sure you’re balancing that with time spent with friends or other family members who are more understanding or empathetic. Binge watching Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt with your single gal pals will surely send your sister’s sermons right out of your head.
3. Communicate honestly and genuinely. This one may seem like a no-brainer, but how often do you and your sibling respond to each other with passive aggressiveness, sarcasm or defensiveness? If your sister tells you she just scored that pair of awesome boots on sale that you both wanted, don’t immediately respond with a snide “good for you.” It may feel strange at first, but responding instead with “That’s awesome. Did they have any left in my size?” will make you both feel better, promise.
4. Take your history and your parents out of it. Joe Rich, a relationship expert and author of Parenting: The Long Journey says “starting with a clean slate will allow you to see your siblings in a whole new and, ideally, more positive light.” Next time you feel your jaw clenching around your bro or sis, ask yourself if you’d feel as jealous or angry if it was your best friend telling you this news and try to react accordingly. Just because your sister pulled your hair when you were kids doesn’t mean you can’t move on and form a close, supportive friendship (or at least civil relationship!).
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