It’s happened to us often enough that we’ve seen conversation start to go downhill relatively quickly with our sibling-s. What can start off as being a neutral conversation can quickly fall into invasive, demeaning, and provoking questions that can bring up our defenses, and cause us to react in ways that are out of character for ourselves. While there can be many reasons for this, as we’ve seen before in some past videos, there is also what I like to call “bad chemistry”, as one such reason, which I would like to define further here.
Bad chemistry happens when differing elements start to collide with one another, in an unhealthy, and unpleasant way. One such aspect can be with regards to personality, such as with an agreeable and disagreeable person. If your sibling is disagreeable, you can expect them to fail to acknowledge your feelings, and will steer the conversation towards what matters to them, sometimes with probing, critical, accusatory questions and comments, leaving you feeling unfulfilled, or hurt. They will rarely actually want an answer. In most cases, it’s the enjoyment in seeing you destabilized that they thrive on. An agreeable person can fall into becoming a doormat, and simply become oriented towards the other. To avoid this, it’s always good to speak decisively when it comes to the choices you make in your life. There is seldom the need to justify yourself any further, if pressed by your sibling, as you are the expert on you.
If your sibling has a difficult personality, chances are, they have difficulty with regulating their emotions. That means any word or topic interpreted ambiguously can be seen as an opportunity to fly off the handle, get angry, and make unfounded claims about you and demean you. Some people almost seem to derive enjoyment in getting angry, as it gives them a sense of power. So if you are one to keep calm, and handle things smoothly, it can be good to remind yourself of the importance in staying factual, and in avoiding getting into a defensive conversation with them. It can be draining to be around such people, but if you continue to remain calm, and avoid biting the hook, you will be able to steer clear of a conversation that deteriorates quickly, as you won’t add fuel to the fire.
Another aspect to consider is the interaction between Thinking and Sensory personalities versus a Feeler’s personality. The first ones usually respond better through facts and personal experiences they’ve had, as a reference point. You can imagine just how a feeler would be perceived if they were to disclose their innermost feelings to their brother or sister, and suddenly be met with denial, dismissal or misunderstanding. While this may be due to narcissism, it can also be about not speaking each other’s language. Learn to sharpen your skills when it comes to communicating. Connecting them to a reference point that is comfortable to your sibling can avoid situations where personalities collide, and can actually set you in a direction that can make for an effective communication of your feelings afterwards.
Now, go out there and try some of these strategies with a sibling, a family member, a friend or another person. I would love to hear about your experiences in how you do in your journey towards empowerment.
Take care, and remember: You are not alone!
Ali-John Chaudhary is a Registered Psychotherapist with offices in Ontario and Quebec. He helps clients from different parts of the world going through sibling estrangement issues, and produces YouTube videos on the same subject, with author Fern Schumer Chapman. He also hosts an online support group on zoom for those looking to empower themselves with this rarely discussed subject.