Get over your deep down feeling that your sibling got more of something than you did-- love from your parents, brains, looks. Face the facts: Your sibling didn’t ask for these supposed advantages. Besides, they may have been projections of your own insecurities and never existed in the first place.
Whether it is true or not doesn’t really matter. What counts are the notions about one another that siblings carry with them from childhood, the sibling baggage that can blind them from seeing brothers and sisters as the mature people they’ve become.
Practice Active Listening
When my then three-year-old son was “out of control,” I jumped at the chance to take what was then called a Parent Effectiveness Training (PET) course. The skills I learned way back when are perfectly suited to offering the proverbial olive branch to a sibling from whom you’ve been disconnected.
So, what does it mean to be an active listener and how can it help reestablish a relationship with a sibling?
The trick here is to encourage your sibling to talk about herself and her feelings toward you. One of the best ways to do that is to be a “mirror,” to reflect back the feelings you think you here and see.
Okay. So, here’s an example:
Sister: I know Dad loved you more.
You: You feel jealous.
Sister: Well . . . I don’t know.
You: You’re confused about your feelings.
Sister: It was such a long time ago.
You: It’s hard to tap into the past.
Sister: Maybe, but I think you felt special and still do.
You: You see me as having gotten something you never got.
Sister: You walked around like some kind of know-it-all.
You: You thought I was bossy.
Sister: Yeah, you were. You always told me what to do.
You: You saw me as the stereotypical oldest child.
Sister: You got that right.
You: I’m sorry you felt that way. I never intended to push you around.
You get the gist. “You” reflected your sister’s hurt by restating what you thought she said. You didn’t repeat what she said but fed back what you think you heard.
That’s great, you’re thinking. But how do I do that without trying to clear your name and what you might or might not have done?
You can take a pause. Put everything through that computer of a brain. Count to ten. Do whatever it takes to think before you say something you’ll regret or that will put your and your sibling right back where you started.
Some active listeners like to you the pattern: You feel _________because ____________. You feel jealous because you thought dad loved me more.
But don’t feel you’re locked into this pattern. The important thing is to catch the meaning behind the words and restate what you think you hear.
Click Follow to receive emails when this author adds content on Bublish