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How do I stand up for myself without feeling bad? [closed]

asked 2016-10-15 19:35:44 -0500

strongKaur gravatar image

updated 2016-11-19 15:04:39 -0500

My older sister is controlling, & critical. She thinks she has a right to control every aspect of my life and she thinks she’s always right about matters in my life that she doesn’t even understand. Talking to her about her behavior is not helpful- she doesn’t listen, doesn’t care about the effects of her behavior, and is not willing to change. So I know nothing is going to change on her end. On my side, my mental health is suffering. I’m minimizing the time spent with her. I’m understanding of the fact that she is doing what she thinks is right, and based on her belief systems and how she interpreted the world growing up. I also know that God is our real family.

Here’s the thing I’m confused. I have put up with her behavior for a really long time, and just let her comments do their damage. They really hurt. Then I get angry and sometimes I snap back. Knowing I feel bad about being angry, she guilt trips me. She knows me well so she knows exactly what is necessary to get me to do what she wants. Whenever I stand up for myself I feel really bad about it. I don’t understand what to do. If I do nothing, at least I’m not angry back, but then the anger is just pushed inside. The fact that I’m angry at all is an issue for me. I don’t want to feel like that. I feel bad about it for a long time afterwards. I’m trying to build my confidence but she’s discouraging me from all things that are helping me build up myself (for example she is critical of simran, me going to the gurdwara more, etc.). Simply convincing myself I have a right to make my own decisions without her input is hard for me. I have done it, but I’m always scared of what she is going to say and she simply always does have something negative to say about my choices. How do I deal with my emotional reaction to her behavior? I’m trying to increase my simran so that eventually I’m at a stage where her opinions and behaviors make no difference and I won’t be angry. What can I do in the meantime?

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Closed for the following reason the question is answered, right answer was accepted by strongKaur
close date 2016-11-19 15:06:11

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answered 2016-10-17 10:18:51 -0500

Guruka Singh gravatar image

"What can I do in the meantime?" Train yourself to not react to her. She gets a kick out of making you react to her. She is able to "get your goat" so she does that to feed her ego by controlling you. That's her movie. Choose not to be in her movie. Make your own movie. You're the protagonist of that movie, not her. Don't reply, don't fight, don't complain. Concentrate on keeping your heart open; bless her in your prayers and above all be graceful.

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answered 2016-10-18 14:11:30 -0500

Singh2000 gravatar image

Waheguru ji ka khalsa Waheguru ji ki fateh

To weak person other person tries to control. This type of controlling weak person prevails in all culture eastern or western, school or office, brother or sister, friend or foe. This is universal truth. The core thing is weakness.

The question is how to overcome weakness or establish strong personality. Few suggestions:

  1. Become leader to lead work at office, school, Gurdwara, home or where ever possible. Try to participate in other work to help them.
  2. Think practically not emotionally. Doing work with feeling is good but doing work with emotions is not good.
  3. Start enjoying some outdoor sports like running, swimming, hiking, biking. If we starts enjoy sports activity then it will become part of our life beside health benefit we can achieve big targets like marathon etc. At the end it will increase our confidence and gives us good feeling. People join sports for health benefit but don’t enjoy and feel it burden and after sometimes they stop. So enjoyment in activity is must.
  4. Explore nature. There are lots of national and state parks around our home which we don’t know because we don’t have interest. They are beautiful. Nature gives our positive energy.
  5. Do all your work to keep Guru Nanak in your mind. Means Guru Nanak is there not you. Or behave in such a way to understand how Guru will handle this situation.
  6. Only spread and accept positive energy. Do not let any room for negativity in your life.
  7. Start learning keertan. It will increase confidence and you can sing shabad at Grudwara or at friend’s house.
  8. Do nitnem daily and read one page of SGGS with understanding to analyze your life for improvement. It will change our life because after sometimes Guru will start working within us with his teachings.
  9. Guru Gobind Singh ji baptized sikh to make them leader to stand for righteous things.

All of these suggestions change our traditional mindset and gives use new hope and new values and make us strong leader. Once we are strong others behavior will automatically change. They start seeing us good valuable person on whom they can rely. You will see magic in your life after following these suggestions. Nothing is impossible, with Guru’s blessing we can change our self to become good leader and impact the world.

Link for samagams where all sangat sing: They also do local sangat on weekends. Thanks!

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Those are great suggestions, thank you. I strongly disagree with your comments about weakness. Anyone can be abused, its not about weak or strong. Police officers, doctors, lawyers are abused (physically, mentally, or emotionally) because abuse is about the abuser choosing to abuse, not the victim

strongKaur gravatar imagestrongKaur ( 2016-10-18 15:08:46 -0500 )edit

Other people’s behaviour is independent of ours. We have to stop believing our behavior is going to change other people. You change yourself to change your own mindset, not other people. Other people’s behavior is their choice.

strongKaur gravatar imagestrongKaur ( 2016-10-18 15:09:09 -0500 )edit

Their inability to see your value is not about you, its about their PERCEPTION of your value. Think about how Naamdev’s value was not recognized by his own mother! And yet he wrote so much of our gurbani.

strongKaur gravatar imagestrongKaur ( 2016-10-18 15:09:32 -0500 )edit

I agree with doing those things to be the best version of ourself and gain confidence to decrease our vulnerability factors, but the goal is about us and not about changing others.

strongKaur gravatar imagestrongKaur ( 2016-10-18 15:10:58 -0500 )edit

Therefore the purpose of my question was not how to change my sister. It was about how to maintain personal integrity/composure given the fact that she isn't ever going to change unless she has insight and chooses to do so

strongKaur gravatar imagestrongKaur ( 2016-10-18 15:12:22 -0500 )edit

answered 2016-10-16 02:03:47 -0500

AkaaliKaur gravatar image

bhainjee this is going to sound really weird but I have exactly the same issue! My older sister always gets her way and my parents always listen to her opinion. If I want to do something she'll make sure my parents say no! My parents are not the people to ask for permission, it's her. She's has taken over my entire life, making sure I have no friends, I don't catch up with anyone, making sure I have NO social media whatsoever, reading my messages, telling me off about absolutely everything and even blackmailing me. Because we are traditional amritdhari Gursikhs I'm expected to respect what she says and have no argument with her whatsoever. She hits me and yells at me but I'm not allowed to do anything about it. Because of her, I hate my life and I hate being a girl. I wake up every morning wishing I was a boy and free from the control of everyone. I have faith in Sikhi and maharaj but I have lost complete faith in my family, and as for the older sister, I HATE HER. I know Sikhi is about love and respect but no one is a brahm gyani and this is my weakness. She has destroyed me physically and mentally and I'll never forget that. I just want her married and out of my life.

As far as what to do, I'm sorry to say this but I've given up trying to fix my life. My family wont ever change and I know that. We've had sit down talks and have tried to solve things but in the end, I'm always restricted and my life is about rebelling and getting instagram and facebook without them knowing. I do an ardaas and pray she gets married and the hell out of my life in 2 years max. I myself want to get married so I can get the hell out of this overprotective jail and make my own choices with my husband. Bhainjee, you just have to wait, do simran and paath and EARN this change of lifestyle from maharaj. Whatever we want done or change WILL happen, but only if we deserve it by putting in our share of paath and simran. I'm sorry for not being much of a help and I really hope things get better for you! You're not alone in this, just remember most Sikh families have this issue! I always single myself and say why is it just me, truth is it's almost everyone around you but they don't show it.

Bhul Chuk Maaf :)

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it’s really nice to know I am not alone in this. I’m sorry about your situation, she sounds very abusive and I can understand how painful it must be to be stuck there. Luckily my parents are the type of people who are always willing to change, but she is the exception

strongKaur gravatar imagestrongKaur ( 2016-10-16 02:56:59 -0500 )edit

I love her because she has some great qualities, but I can’t overlook the harm done. When I’m angry, then I’m not loving, I’m hateful and I don’t like that feeling. I am going to take your encouragement and continue to do simran and paath.

strongKaur gravatar imagestrongKaur ( 2016-10-16 02:58:23 -0500 )edit

I wish you luck in your situation and sending my love <3

strongKaur gravatar imagestrongKaur ( 2016-10-16 02:59:15 -0500 )edit

I hope all the best for you! yess it feels so much better knowing others are in the same boat :) It's great to see you have some love for your sister, I grew up in an environment where she would abuse me 24/7 and now I cant see her in any good light.. My love to you too xx

AkaaliKaur gravatar imageAkaaliKaur ( 2016-10-21 01:05:55 -0500 )edit

thank you. things have settled down for now, but it comes in cycles. hoping all the best for you as well, which sounds like it will be your sister, or you getting the chance to move out!

strongKaur gravatar imagestrongKaur ( 2016-10-21 01:38:16 -0500 )edit

answered 2016-10-17 15:15:19 -0500

strongKaur gravatar image

I normally wouldn’t answer my own question but I’ve taken some time to think about it and I wanted to share for anyone dealing with similar stuff in the future and comes across this question.

I only really put together the understanding that her behavior wasn’t okay very recently and that realization changed a lot for me. I used to think it was normal and okay, but one of my friends pointed out my sister doesn’t have a right to force me to make decisions she wants me to make and control what I do in my life. It took a lot of reflecting to understand that even though I loved her, the feelings of fear and anxiety are generated from her behaviour. Seeing the truth allowed me to decide to take steps to come up with a way to deal with it. Also, understanding that conversations, etc. aren’t going to change her has helped me focus on myself and my reactions so I can maintain inner peace.

I really liked Guruka Singh’s answer of training myself not to react. It’s not okay to fight fire with fire. I’m going to continue to love her but create a boundary that she cannot micromanage my life. I never used to understand when people said "have boundaries in relationships" but I can see now its important. I know she will use whatever means necessary to get me to do what she wants. Know that I’ve identified those tactics for what they are it’s easier to say “she’s just saying that to get me to do what she wants” instead of being hurt by them. Here’s the biggest thing I’ve learned: Staying quiet doesn’t mean I’m weak or powerless. When I stayed quiet in the past it was out of fear. But now I am choosing actively not to respond and I think there’s a difference there. I still stay quiet but I maintain my mental health and know that I didn’t fuel the fire.

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answered 2016-11-19 05:53:41 -0500

13Kaur gravatar image

As i was reading this post and responses, the one thing that kept going through my mind is why is sibling abuse never addressed? I'm a clinical psychotherapist and trust me, we learn about partner abuse, abuse from parents and so forth. However, there is hardly any literature or research on the topic, or support networks for victims of sibling abuse.

Having said that, I can relate to what you are experiencing to some extent. My situation is a little more complex as I have a daughter aged 8, and my sister often makes me feel like I am a bad mother. I have also been copping emotional and verbal abuse from my sister that has left me both physically and mentally drained.

However what Singh2000 said in his comment was pretty spot on. I noticed that within the relationship between me and my sister, she appears a lot more stronger, dominant and powerful, as she is better at presenting herself and has better control of her emotions.

Now my sister is actually a wonderful person, we are both amritdhari and she has a lot of love for Guru Maharaj. Which my whole family can see. Me, on the other hand, I don't openly show my love for Guru and also am not very strong emotionally, to be frank my emotions are my biggest weakness. I know I have good leadership skills, but I do not fully embrace those skills, as my own lack of self-esteem and unstable emotions create obstacles for me.

I'm also the kind of person whose self-esteem depends on the opinions of the people I love. If my close family and friends mistreat me, then I often will have lower self-esteem. If they treat me with respect and love, I will naturally feel better about myself. This has been creating all kinds of problems in my life.

What I have learnt through all of this, is that this current challenge that I am going through with my sister, is there to help shape my own character. It will enable me to learn to love and forgive people who hurt me. You can learn to tolerate abuse and find peace through Bani instead. And more importantly, the pain we experience when we go through experiences like these, helps us understand other peoples suffering more. We become more compassionate and merciful to those who are truly suffering. Guru Maharaj will use us to be of support and healing to people, because we will have a better understanding of the human condition because of what we have experienced ourselves.

My advice to you would be to have a goal, or many goals, try and follow all of the steps outlined by Singh2000, and also get yourself involved in some kind of a project that you are passionate about. Immerse yourself into your work, in fact try and see the work/projects that you do as a seva given to you by our father Guru Gobind Singh ... (more)

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Thanks for sharing your story and what you learned. My problem actually got resolved and I haven’t thought about it in a while! It was a combination of things, but briefly: I found peace through Gurbani, I became more spiritually grounded and less worried about her opinion.

strongKaur gravatar imagestrongKaur ( 2016-11-19 15:00:22 -0500 )edit

Secondly i had a conversation that i waited way too long to have, but I took a different approach than usual and planned carefully what to say. It worked out well for both of us. Space and time helped. I already do/did most of the things on the list that Singh2000 suggested, but i think above

strongKaur gravatar imagestrongKaur ( 2016-11-19 15:01:21 -0500 )edit

all else, everyone's comments made me just be more patient and stay committed to a spiritual approach and i did get to the stage where i'm not as angry.

strongKaur gravatar imagestrongKaur ( 2016-11-19 15:02:26 -0500 )edit

StrongKaru ji, You said "but I think above". I suggested seva, leadership, positivity, health, SGGS's teaching, Nitnem, Guru Nanak to drive our life. Can you please share with us which is above of SGGS's teachings which I missed.

Singh2000 gravatar imageSingh2000 ( 2016-11-21 08:19:29 -0500 )edit

Some time we accept what we like according to our inner level. But Guru's teaching enter us only when we leave our intellectual mind and accept guru's teachings without any doubts. Slowly Guru starts reflecting from our life. After achieving this stage there is no problem in our life.....

Singh2000 gravatar imageSingh2000 ( 2016-11-21 08:32:54 -0500 )edit

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Asked: 2016-10-15 19:35:44 -0500

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Last updated: Nov 19 '16