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Sibling…Friend or Foe?

Life Coach, Sayeda Habib, offers tips on how to heal sibling rivalry and rebuild your relationship.

Asalaamu ‘alaikum sisters! Insha Allah your year has gotten off to a wonderful start. Hope is so important at the beginning of a new year. However, having a complicated relationship impacts our hopes and spoils our chances of being happy or at peace. This is what’s happening with sister Rasheeda. She recently lost her elderly mother, which is heartbreaking enough, but what made it worse was that her relationships with her siblings have further deteriorated since their mothers’ passing. Rasheeda and her brother haven’t spoken for years. Now, there is blame on either side for not doing enough for their mum. Rasheeda came to coaching because she had never felt more alone. “I really want to heal these rifts, but I don’t know where to start.”


I imagine that many people can relate to experiencing sibling rivalry during their younger years. It is not uncommon to experience emotions such as jealousy, anger or even resentment towards your siblings when you are growing up. Most of us tend to resolve these resentments as we grow up and leave home. However, if these rivalries continue into adulthood, they can create a lot of tension and misery in one’s life. If you are finding that your relationships with your siblings are strained or uncomfortable, then it will continue to impact your life until you find some resolution. Many people wait for the other party to begin the process, but it is always up to us to create any form of change in our lives. When we take the first step, we are taking the responsibility to create change in our lives and insha Allah things start to fall into place from there. So, let’s explore some ways in which we can create healing and transform our relationships with our siblings.


Show courage!
If a conflict has been going on for a number of years, one may think that it’s too late or pointless to do anything about it now. Sentiments like these are very possibly coming from fear. You may be worried that your efforts will be rejected after all the years that have gone by. No one can guarantee results, but results only happen if we make an effort. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Pluck up the courage to take the first step. No matter how it turns out, you will always know that you gave things your best shot to heal the relationship. This effort in itself will do wonders to heal your own personal hurts.


Forgive, forgive, forgive….
Childhood hurts can affect us for a lifetime if we allow them to. Choosing to work on improving a relationship naturally requires that we put past resentments to rest. Without doing this, you will be unable to move on. Of course, this may be easier said than done. How do you actually let past hurts go? The good news is that you have already done the hardest part of the work just by making the intention to let things go. The next step will take a bit of time and practice, but insha Allah you will get the results you’re after. One way of doing this is to express things in a letter that you will not send. It is written to express any unsaid emotions for the purpose of releasing them.
Write a letter to your sibling expressing anything that you’ve been holding onto. Once you have said all that’s needed, then continue the letter ensuring that you’re letting it all go. Forgive the other person and create a new intention for the present and the future. Once you feel that the letter is complete then tear it up. Remember that these emotions were put on paper to release them, not to strengthen them. Do not keep or read the letter again. Once a few days have gone by, if anything else comes up, then repeat this exercise. You can repeat this until you feel that all you needed to say has been said and released. Next, you can reach out to your sibling to create something new.


Take small steps
The next step forward is, of course, to reach out to your sibling. Start by sending an email or a message or just give them a call to say hello. Breaking the silence can be awkward, but if it is genuine the other person will pick up on your well-meaning vibes. Start slowly and take things at a pace that is comfortable for you. Perhaps getting together to talk about old times or catch up would be a great place to start. Next, invest some time occasionally to send an email or a message. Let them know what’s happening in your life, include them in the important things. Plan regular meetings or a reunion, just to get together. There’s nothing like good times to cement a relationship!


Share your story
There may even come a time when you both will feel it appropriate to clear the air in person. If it does, then embrace it by taking responsibility for your own emotions. Share your side of the story but do not blame the other party. Use words such as “I felt” or “for me it was like…” this way you are sharing what you felt without blaming your sibling. Let them know that you have already let things go, but are sharing what things were like for you. Allow them to also share how they felt and listen with empathy. If they express being hurt, then reach out and apologise. Remember that each of you has a unique experience of life, so even though you may have meant well, your actions could have hurt your sibling. Through the conversation, look for opportunities to forgive each other and move forward. Insha Allah you will find that each of you has wanted to reach out to the other for a long time. Create a new contract where you agree to talk about any issues that come up so that differences are resolved immediately.


I hope that you will find these tips useful in renewing such an important relationship. Looking back you will find that the efforts you made were worth it! My very best wishes to you for the journey ahead.
Sayeda Habib is a highly qualified professional coach. She coaches Muslim women to help them feel empowered and create results in their lives. She coaches clients one to one and also runs group workshops. She holds the Professional Certified Coach (PCC) credential issued by the International Coach Federation. She is the author of “Discover the Best in You: Life Coaching for Muslims.” She also contributes to various online and print publications. She has been featured in the media in various countries including Pakistan, the UAE and the United Kingdom. To find out more, log on to www.makelifehappen.com or email at Sayeda@makelifehappen.com