Having a sister is fabulous. Regardless of your relationship, a sister has the potential to be someone who fully understands how you tick, a built-in best friend. However, there’s one unfortunate bug in that system: jealousy.
Jealousy of your sister can be vicious enough to tear apart your relationship if you let it. Fortunately, there are some easy steps you can take to avoid bitter jealousy and resentment:
- Remember that her success doesn’t detract from your own.
- Love her for her differences.
- Focus on what’s great in your life.
- Be generous with others.
Read on to understand what you can do to alleviate jealousy, strengthen your relationship with your sister, and grow your personal development.
1. Remember that her Success Doesn’t Detract From Your Own
Unfortunately, the closer you are with your sister– emotionally, in age, in proximity– the greater the likelihood that you grew up victim to frequent comparisons.
It starts from a young age and carries on throughout your lives together. Relatives feel comfortable teasing you about who is the “pretty one.”
Teachers drop less-than-helpful hints that “your sister was so great at algebra.” Friends become pawns like in a war as someone who starts out being best friends with one sister inevitably becomes close to another.
As we get older, the problem only worsens as the bar for what’s considered “success” gets pushed into more profound subjects: who has the most successful marriage, the most ambitious children, the highest paying job.
It can be hurtful, to say the least.
When you feel jealousy starts to tear apart your relationship, the best thing to do is to stop and remind yourself, no matter how it may seem, your successes are entirely unrelated.
Your sister’s great marriage has nothing to do with the messages you found on your husband’s phone.
There’s no link between your sister’s promotion and the argument you had today with your coworker.
Her success does not equal your failure.
Competition is a healthy, natural force in life. It’s what drives us to work harder, be better, and grow.
Misplaced competition, however, can only result in misery. Remember that if you hope to keep your sister as an ally, you can’t allow yourself to view her the way you would an enemy.
2. Love her for Your Differences
In contrast, while it feels like similarities breed resentment, differences can lead to miscommunication.
In his internationally bestselling book The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho writes that when someone grows close to another, “they want the person to change. If someone isn’t what others want them to be, the others become angry. Everyone seems to have a clear idea of how people should lead their lives, but none about his or her own.”
For whatever reason, this seems especially true in the case of sisters. Sometimes what manifests as jealousy is resentment over differences.
We get upset when our sister grows into a different person with desires that we can’t relate to. We feel betrayed unnecessarily.
Remind yourself: your sister is her own person.
You couldn’t possibly make her decisions for her, and what’s more, you shouldn’t. She’s an entirely different person who views the world through her own lens. As a result, what works for you wouldn’t necessarily work for her.
Practice loving your sister for her differences rather than despite them. If you’re struggling to invent ways to do so, try a few of the following:
- Ask her in-depth questions about an interest you don’t share.
- Listen to her opinions with a completely open mind.
- Compliment her on something she’s passionate about.
- Research something she loves that you don’t.
- Ask her what draws her to the things that capture her interest.
By showing genuine interest in her world, you are investing in a strong relationship and showing that you love your sister for everything that makes her different from you.
3. Focus on What’s Great in Your Life
Did you know that there’s a link between gratitude and happiness?
Studies have shown that people who regularly express gratitude for others experience a positive boost in their overall happiness. It’s why “gratitude journaling” was such a strong trend for a while. What’s more, this happiness boost lasts longer when the gratitude is expressed verbally rather than just acknowledged in private.
With this knowledge in hand, SoulPancake ran a social experiment. They first began by having psychologists interview subjects, taking note of their general mood and reported happiness.
An interviewer then asked them to write a letter to a person who impacted their life. After speaking about this person, they had the subjects call that person to read the letter aloud. The results were astounding!
Why is it that we feel uncomfortable expressing our gratitude to the people who most deserve it?
If jealousy is a problem in your relationship with your sister, try taking a moment to write down all the ways she’s positively affected your life. Think of all the fun family trips, the times you’ve commiserate in annoyance at your parents. Write it all down, and when you finish, express that to her.
It’s a personal experiment that can only bring about more joy.
4. Be Generous with Others
Sometimes, jealousy of others can occur when we are simply unhappy in our own lives.
Studies have shown that one of the best ways to build happiness is to focus on helping others. In doing so, we refocus our attention on others problems, taking some of the heat off of our own.
If you need a way to stop being jealous of your sister, take time to be extra generous with others. Even if this generosity is in no way linked to your sister, it’ll help you be more content in your world, which can go further in your relationship than you might think.
Jealousy can be a destructive force in any relationship. If there’s one bond you don’t want to take advantage of, it’s the one you have with your sister. Stop being jealous of your sister! Instead, focus on all the ways you can grow closer together and everything wonderful you already have in your own life.