My Mother Favors My Sister

Dear Deborah,

I come from a very TYPE A, successful family. I have a sister who is more successful than I am. She and her husband are both very driven. I'm not a driven person, so when we have family get-togethers during the holidays our family is always asking why I'm not like my sister, and that if I just would try harder than I could be as successful as sister and them. How do I make them understand that I'm just not as driven to be a BIG success like everyone else in my family?


Dear Liz,

First of all, we need some self-love. Notice, I didn't say pride-to-the-point-of-annoying-people. We need to love ourselves for who we are.

Ok. Now, hug yourself. Look in the mirror and tell yourself you are beautiful. Hug a stuffed animal (I'm serious!). Think about what it is that helped you to feel valued and loved. Whatever that is, do that. Let's not involve someone else in this step. Let's figure out a way that we can self-talk and remind ourselves that we are valued and we are loved! Look, tell yourself that I love you! Look in the mirror and tell yourself that Deborah sees value in Liz and that Deborah loves Liz for exactly who she is! Ok, now, do it again. Do this until you know it in your gut. If you are not feeling it today, that is ok. Do it again tomorrow... and the next day. Believe me. I have used this method even for forgiveness and it does work. But, you have to

  1. Believe it will work
  2. Keep doing it until it does work - until you are believing!

It sounds like new age stuff? Well, maybe it does. That isn't my goal per se. But, it isn't not my goal. However, this does work and you need to accept yourself and love yourself for exactly who you are today, as you stand there looking in the mirror. Only then can we move forward for any changes (and who says you need any changes?!).

Now... It sounds like you already have the answer as far as who you are, who you want to be (or don't want to be), and where you are going in life. It sounds like you sort of want to shout it in their face (and I don't blame you!).

I wish I could say that what you are experiencing is not the norm but from where I am sitting, it is the norm. Or, at least it happens too often. It isn't nice, is it!

There are two things that motivate people to be this way. (Yes, I cringe at using the word motivate because I think of positive, good motivation and that is not what we are talking about here, when we reference how your family is treating you!

They are motivated by greed and a desire to own and control you. Yuck.

They are also motivated by jealousy. You see, they are seeing something in you that looks like you are better than they are and not only do they want to control that in you (and control you!) but they are actually jealous of whatever that is. They don't want you to have something that that do not have and certainly not if it makes you better than them!

See... Here is the weird thing about us humans. If your family really meant what they are saying, they wouldn't say it. Truly, repeat that one back to yourself... Ok, repeated? Repeat it again.. until it sticks. It's true. If people really thought that you (or anyone else) was less successful than them, they would say nothing. Why would they need to say anything? I mean, it isn't like what they are saying is making you feel better, is it? So, right there you realize that they are not saying it to be nice to you. They are not sitting down and saying, "Here is a plan on how you can accomplish it sweetie, because I believe in you.." are they? No. They are insulting you and then rubbing your face in it. That is cruel!

That is what people do when they are jealous (because you have something that they do not have) and they want to control you. Possibly, it is a case where others like you (love you!) more than they like or love them. They want to be liked and loved and certainly liked and loved more than you! But, it isn't like they can pickpocket you and steal that from you. I mean, how would they steal your likability? They can't! So, the only way they can make themselves more likable or lovable is by making you less likable and less lovable. And, the only way they can do that (so they think) is by insulting you, making you feel awful about yourself, and then rubbing your face in it so that you will continue to repeat what they have said to you in your self-talk.

Good time to go back to the beginning of this post and repeat that positive self-talk and self-love, eh?

Now, it isn't really about being TYPE A. Oh, they may be TYPE A but they don't want you to be TYPE A and they don't want you to be successful. If you become as successful as they view themselves, they'd have to be that much more jealous of you because now you are likable, lovable, and you have stolen THEIR game!

They are sooooooo jealous of you that they will use anything to destroy you. They will try to make you cry. They will try to make other people not like you. They will try to get you to not like you. And, now, they are trying to say, "See. You are not as good as ______."

You must be pretty awesome! They are running out of bad things to say to you! They are getting desperate! So, don't let them win! The next time they try something like that, do the following:

  1. Pause.
  2. Smile.
  3. Ask them... "Do you feel better now?"
  4. Pause.
  5. Smile again.
  6. Calmly walk away...Not with arrogance (not that you have arrogance!) but with a calmness. You are as calm as a cucumber.

Even if you feel everything but calm, do not let them see that! It will get easier. And, you will have confirmation that it is working. How? This tactic will cause them to entirely freak out and they will up their game to attempt to throw you off yours. But, it won't work, will it? You know who you are. You know where you are going. You know you are loved. You know you are liked. You know you have value.

Deborah E
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Deborah is a #1 Jazz Singer, as well as a lifelong musician, songwriter, and sound engineer. She is also a writer who pursues a love of positive psychology. She is a thesis short of having her doctorate in psychology.

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