Thanksgiving is a time for many to gather together with siblings and parents. Very often, sibling relationships can be strained due to personality differences and old childhood wounds. No matter your age, siblings can bring up old resentments, jealousy, and unresolved conflicts. You don’t always notice it, unless you are at a family function, then the old roles, rules and ways of relating emerge. When you become adults and break free from your old, undesirable role, leave it to your sibling to put you right back there emotionally when you are together! They don’t seem to understand or respect the adult that you have become, and if your sibling was controlling or negative to you as a child, the old pattern is sure to emerge. Even a few hours of sibling exposure can ruin the spiritual and emotional growth you have done to overcome your childhood pain. Many try to remove themselves from the parts of childhood they hated the most but still have long-term unresolved issues with their siblings. Although distance can happen in mid-years, often they are forced to reunite for holidays or when their elderly parents get ill.
There are some things you can to do help improve a strained sibling relationship:
1) Remember, you are celebrating Thanksgiving, a time to count your many blessings and give gratitude for life and all its glory. Keep this spiritual message deep within you and keep this feeling of gratitude throughout your day. Be determined that no one can take your bliss. If a sibling tries to start an issue with you, go to another room, say you’d rather not talk about it, or change the subject. Do something different with another family member.
2) Forgive and let go of the past. Neither of you can change old dysfunctional childhood dynamics. Let it go, because you were both emotionally immature to settle issues while young. When facing a difficult sibling, use the “Watch Me! mindset” as described in my book, LIVE Beyond Your Dreams – from Fear and Doubt to Personal Power, Purpose and Success to empower you, raise your self-esteem and confidence levels. Live consciously in “the now” and focus on creating a totally new relationship for the future by extending love, and not allowing past fear, anger or resentments to ruin your day. Forgiving helps you be a better person, and removes you from the role of victim which gives you a sense of personal emotional power and control.
3) Be “socially polite” to any difficult family member and be certain not to discuss any personal or hot topics. Many siblings get jealous over the success of another, so you will see them shut down, challenge, or belittle you, to avoid discussing any of your recent successes, which is a shame; as your family should be the most proud of you. You can’t control what your siblings might say or do, but you have the full ability to control your reaction to it.
4) If your sibling did anything abusive or sexually molested you, don’t feel you need to be at the same gathering as them. See a professional Relationship Coach or Therapist to help you deal this pain from the past and to work up a plan to approach your sibling only when you feel ready.
5) Chose to have a smaller Thanksgiving with your immediate family, or treat yourselves to a nice dinner out. Chose to surround yourself with positive people. This holiday, practice spiritual meditation or prayer; and your sibling from a place of peace and love can make a huge difference.
6) Be positive and non-blaming when you meet with your siblings. If they said you did something wrong to them in the past, then apologize sincerely and ask for you both to try for a more loving and respectful relationship presently and in the future. Tell them you are happy to see them, and wish for a lovely day to share with them and the family.
7) Be proud that you tried to heal old childhood issues and let go of the result. About 65% of siblings are willing to heal the past and have a new relationship. So go for it! Life is too short to hold on to anger, resentment and old grudges over issues that cannot be changed. Celebrate your sibling’s successes, and they are more apt to celebrate yours. Be focused and emotionally prepared to be a loving source of peace and light this Holiday season. I wish you many Blessings!
Riana Mine is a Marriage/Family Therapist at Therapy by the Sea, LLC; a Certified Relationship Coach, author, and motivational speaker in Egg Harbor Township, NJ. Her column, My Relationship Coach will discuss the relationship you have with yourself and others. Her free App: My Relationship Coach offers more articles and her book, Live Beyond Your Dreams – from Fear and Doubt to Personal Power, Purpose and Success, addresses relationships with yourself and others. To learn more or suggest a topic, go to www.RianaMilne.com or email RianaMilne@gmail.com. FaceBook: Coach Riana Milne.