As I mentioned in a previous article, I have an estranged sister for many years. It happened because of her inability to accept when she was at fault or even take on responsibilities. It was as if she thought that she was so much better than everyone, and no one could ask her to do chores or at least own up to her mistakes. I had such a hard time living with her that I bolted out of the house and rarely came back to visit, especially whenever I knew that she was also there.
Ever since my blog about it came out, though, many people had been asking me how I managed to sort things out with my sister. Even if I was already a counselor, I was vocal about running out of ideas. Helping my sister did not come easy for me since there were emotions involved.
There were still honest times when I wanted to strangle her because she refused to cooperate, thinking that I was the one who had something against her. In reality, I just wanted to fix our relationship and be done with all the drama in our lives. But I finally got my sister to agree to get counseling with me and realize that her problem was psychological rigidity.
There were three things that I told her to ask herself every day.
Am I Doing Something That Will Hurt Other People?
My sister had this ongoing idea that her actions never hurt anybody. She said that she only spoke her truth, and if it stung other people, it meant that they were guilty and not her. I wanted to burst out when I heard that, but I kept telling myself to remain professional. The silver lining was that I could finally pick my sister’s brain and know what’s going on in her head.
So, for the first question, I asked my sister to put herself in others’ shoes. I said, “Think about this scenario. I borrowed your jean jacket and promised to keep it clean, but I only said that to make you lend it to me and stop asking questions. I will keep it for weeks, assuming that you don’t need it yet; that’s why you have not asked for it to be returned. Then, when you get mad at me for not keeping my promise, I would throw the blame back to your face and tell you that it’s your fault for not taking it back sooner.”
“Ouch,” my sister said. “Did I do that to you?”
“Yes, countless times.”
“Oh, I am sorry about that. What was I thinking? I am horrible,” she uttered.
“You were, but it’s a good thing that you start seeing your mistakes now.”
What’s The Worst Thing That Can Happen If I Start Taking Criticisms?
My sister told me that she refused to take criticisms because she did not want to feel weak. In her head, we had this ongoing rivalry because we were close in age, and I technically had more achievements than her. Somehow, that made her feel the need to defend herself and make everyone believe that she could never do wrong.
The truth was that it worked for my parents. It upset me so much back in the day since they believed that I was the reason behind our problems. They could not understand that it all started because my sister was never sorry for anything.
During counseling, I asked my sister to consider the worst thing to happen if she started taking criticisms wholeheartedly. She could not think of any at that time, so I supplied the answer for her. “The worst thing that could happen was that the criticism would sting you a little but also push you to become a better person.”
Will It Kill Me To Admit That I Am In The Wrong?
For people with psychological rigidity, they tend to bask in the thought that they were always right. That’s where they gain strength; that’s how they get by in life. However, if you have learned anything above, you would know how faulty that mindset was.
Because of that, I encouraged my sister to ask herself this question whenever she faced a similar issue: “Will it kill me to admit that I am wrong?”
This is a good one because the answer is always no. Hearing that from other people or me might get some resistance from her. But if the answer came out from her mouth, she would have no choice but to listen to herself.
My sister continued to get counseling for months. Although psychological rigidity was technically not a mental illness, it was too tough to shake off. But once she agreed to peel off her shields one by one, it became easier for her to alter her mindset than ever. It was all a counselor – and a big sister – could ask for.