How to handle sibling rivalry


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Take the first step

Don’t let pride or stubbornness hold you back. “Because your sibling, whom you didn’t choose, is a God-given relationship, one way or another there’ll be something that’ll make your paths cross,” says Maseko.

Communicate clearly

You can’t change the past, but you can alter your viewpoint and attitude through better understanding. This comes from talking. Avoid using sarcasm, accusation or hurt, and speak calmly. “Stick to the facts,” adds Maseko. Explain to your sibling that you’re feeling resentment or pain.

Recognise jealousy

Envy wants something that the other person has; jealousy is fearing losing something you have. Both are rooted in insecurity, low self-esteem and self-confidence, and anger, says Maseko.

Don’t make comparisons

Whether of qualifications, careers, husbands, or families, don’t dwell on what others have. Focus on yourself and your own life, develop your own standard of success. You can never truly know what the other person is thinking and feeling, and below the surface and carefully crafted social media postings, their lives may be far from rosy.

Let go

“Forgive yourself for assuming roles you disliked,” she says. Stop trying to change your sibling, accept them for who they are. If you’ve been in a pattern of rescuing or directing them, stop: it’s their life. Make a conscious effort to break away from old roles. Be prepared to say ‘I’m sorry’ or ‘I forgive you’.

Set boundaries

“Feel okay about these and stick to them,” says Maseko. Life will have treated adult siblings differently, you can’t expect them to be like you or who you’d like them to be. But you can set limits to your relationship and see these are respected. They may include showing up at family functions and being civil, no matter what.

Stay close

With today’s busy lifestyle, it can be easy to drift apart but you need to find each other. Perhaps start a family website, Facebook page or WhatsApp group to share news and any family updates, but beware of bragging, and be sure to give praise where due.

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