Wednesday, November 26, 2014

What to Do When You're the Family Scapegoat

12 Steps to Breaking Free from Being the Family Scapegoat
by Glynis Sherwood

  • Did you grow up having doubts about your self esteem or personal worth?  
  • When things went wrong in your family, did you tend to be the fall guy?  
  • Do you find yourself encountering recurring disrespect from friends or colleagues?  
  • Do you feel unsure of yourself and/or have difficulty experiencing trust in relationships?
If you answered ‘Yes’ to any of these statements, you may have been scapegoated by your family. The term 'scapegoat' refers to a family member who takes the blame for difficulties in the family. Scapegoating is a form of bullying.  Family relationships profoundly impact our identity and how we view ourselves.

How to Tell if You Have Been Scapegoated:
You are held responsible for family problems, conflicts or challenges, even if they have nothing to do with you.  Other people blame you for their actions.  You may end up feeling a lot of shame for being ‘the bad guy’, and/or anger for being blamed for negative family dynamics.

You are attacked and disbelieved if you tell the truth and ‘blow the whistle’ on negative and/or inappropriate family dynamics.

There has been a history of one or more family members being verbally, emotionally or physically abusive towards you.  Other family members seem to accept or look the other way when you are bullied or aggressed against like this.  You may feel like the ‘black sheep’ of the family.

About the Author: Glynis Sherwood - MEd, Canadian Certified Counsellor, Registered Clinical Counsellor, specializes in recovery from Scapegoating/Bullying, Low Self Esteem, Anxiety, Depression, Grief and Addictive Behaviors.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

My Sibling: My Lifelong Rival or My Lifelong Friend?

Our relationships with our siblings change over time...sometimes rivals, sometimes friends...sometimes something in-between. Recent research has shown that sibling relationships have the potential to be the most powerful and long-lasting relationships of our lives...if we can see past the jealousy and resentment to the wonderful possibilities that exist. I've always been fascinated by sibling relationships and I've gathered together some interesting articles that include advice, suggestions and tips for handling these important relationships.

Holidays With Family: Repairing Sibling Relations
Unlike with Vegas, What Happens in Childhood does not stay in Childhood
by Avidan Milevsky, Ph.D.
Adult siblings are not immune from similar dynamics that plague childhood sibling interactions. At the core, adult sibling disputes are a manifestation of unresolved childhood feelings. For example, sibling rivalry or jealously concerning achievement or success is often the underlying emotion in both childhood and adult sibling interactions. Parental favoritism is also often a salient feeling that exists in adults that can trigger harsh reactions between siblings. Although we may not say it out of our mouths for fear of sounding childish but if we are honest with ourselves we would admit that we often think “it’s not fair that you have that cool job and I don’t” or “why do you get such an awesome boyfriend and I don’t” or “why are your children so well behaved and mine are at not?” or “mom is making such a big deal about your new job, she always liked you better.” Read the entire article>>

Healthy Sibling Relationships: Your sibling is an important person in your life.
by Raychelle Cassada Lohmann, M.S., L.P.C.
Did you know that research has shown that healthy sibling relationships can significantly benefit us later in life? Those with positive sibling relationships report higher life satisfaction and lower rates of depression later in life. Also in times of illness and traumatic events, siblings provide emotional, social, and psychological support to each other. Research shows that this support is common regardless of whether they live next to or far away from each other. Read the entire article>>

Reconnecting with Siblings as Your New Year’s Resolution
Tips to reconnect with your sibling—a resolution with life long benefits
by Avidan Milevsky, Ph.D.
Instead of resolving to “have a better relationship with my sister” choose a more specific resolution that can be tracked clearly as you accomplish this goal. Resolve to “go out for coffee once a week with Becky” or “send her a nice text or email at least once a day.” Framing it this way is easier to track and see if you are accomplishing your goals. Read the entire article>>

Solutions for 10 difficult sibling scenarios
by Claire Sulmers (
Scenario 1: Your sibling constantly passes judgment on your career or your kids
Just get over it? No. You don't have to stand for it. By putting you down, he's probably trying to make himself feel better.
What to do: "Be assertive, but not defensive," says Peter Goldenthal, a family psychologist based in Wayne, Pennsylvania, and the author of "Why Can't We Get Along? Healing Adult Sibling Relationships" ($18, Contain the urge to match his tone and rudeness.
"You may not be able to change his behavior, but you can change the way you respond," says Marcia Millman, a professor of sociology at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Tell him what you think, then "try disarming him by telling a joke or mentioning something about him that you genuinely admire," she says. You can choose to act like an adult, even if he can't.
Sample script: "Actually, I'm really happy with Jimmy's choice of major. He should be able to find just as many job opportunities with an economics degree as you did with your business degree." Read the entire article>>

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Book Review: Books About Sibling Relationships

Siblings: You're Stuck with Each Other, So Stick Together (Laugh & Learn)
by James J. Crist Ph.D.
The Laugh and Learn series of books for kids aged 8 to 13 are easy to read, practical and not the least bit preachy. Siblings: You're Stuck with Each Other, So Stick Together is no exception. 

A great book to read with your children to start a conversation. From tips for handling specific situations like bossiness, bullying, and privacy issues to suggestions for creating stronger sibling relationships, this book tackles the subject of sibling rivalry in a casual, playful manner that doesn't obscure the deeper messages. 

Includes a section for parents with a reading list as well as information on half siblings, adopted siblings, step siblings, and siblings with special needs. The entire Laugh and Learn series is highly recommended by therapists, teachers, parents, and kids. 

Why Can't We Get Along: Healing Adult Sibling Relationships
by Peter Goldenthal, Ph.D.
Are you ready to release the negative patterns of the past that haunt your relationships with your adult siblings? Why Can't We Get Along: Healing Adult Sibling Relationships presents a wealth of suggestions and information in an easy-to-read format. 

Peppered with interesting case histories from Dr. Goldenthal's family psychologist practice, the book focuses on understanding yourself and how you can be the one to break the cycle. Why Can't We Get Along includes specific advice for understanding and accepting their personality and mood problems, letting go of past resentments and patterns, and much more. 

With practical tips for talking and listening to your siblings as well as compassionate encouragement to understand your role in the relationship, this book is an excellent first step on the road to healing your relationships with your adult siblings. 

Find the book on Amazon>> 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Is it Time to Let Go of Past Hurts?

With the busy holiday season upon us it’s often easier to just go with the flow of family obligations and suffer silently (or, perhaps, not-so-silently) as the holiday parties and gatherings stir up memories, old resentments and, sometimes, pain.

Is this the year you’d like to enjoy the time with your parents, siblings, cousins and distant relatives without regressing to the overwhelming angry and hurt feelings from the past? In the following article, Dr. Judith Sills offers excellent suggestions and advice for how to let go of past hurts by reconsidering the events and people involved (including yourself) from a different perspective. Reading one article may not be enough to heal all your pain before the next big family gathering but perhaps it will be the small step you need to take now.

Let It Go! Past hurts and old injustices have a way of keeping us stuck in our tracks, unable to move forward or experience joy. It can take a radical reboot to get past yesterday. Here's how.
By Judith Sills, Ph.D.

Look Closely. A long shadow may be clouding your future. It's the shadow cast by the pain in your past—the parent who wasn't there, the ex who betrayed, the boss who humiliated you.

Or perhaps you're stuck in place by the unhappy residue of your own bad choices—the job you should have left earlier, the sexual secrets you keep, the doctor's visit you delayed.

It is heart-stoppingly easy to get stuck in the darkness of bad memories. They are emotional quicksand and exert a strong downward pull on the psyche.

Sometimes the past traps us through unexamined clutter spilling from every tabletop and corner, elbowing out the new and the possible. Or it commandeers your daydreams, obsessively replaying old losses, past injustices, nagging guilts about the sibling you tormented or friend you let down...

...The power to get past the past does not lie primarily with the nature of events themselves. They count a lot, sure. But so do the steps forward a person is willing to take and how much effort he or she is willing to expend to push some emotional rock up, up, and out of the way.

Getting unstuck involves remembering an injury, but reconsidering it from a different, more empathetic perspective. Moving forward may mean reconfiguring a relationship so that you are less giving, more realistic.

But it rarely means cutting off those ties. Think alteration, not amputation. Getting unstuck requires being truthful with yourself about how you feel—still angry, sad, or anxious, even though you wish you weren't—but holding out the possibility that someday you might feel better.