Dealing with negative feelings about my Brother

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Dealing with negative feelings about my Brother Empty Dealing with negative feelings about my Brother

Post by Aggrax on Fri Nov 07, 2014 3:02 am

It's difficult for me to put this into words very well, but I guess here goes. I'm incredibly jealous of, and very bitter towards, my younger brother and it makes me feel like a horrible person. He's just so much better than I am. He doesn't even feel like he's trying very hard, but he keeps a 4.0 all through High School and into college, gets an internship with starting pay that's more than I ever made at my last two jobs combined along with a job offer once he graduates, and has no trouble staying in shape despite having a diet that's worse than mine. He's an all around nice guy and tonight I was a horrible ass to him.

He asked me if I had exercised today and I told him that I hadn't. I didn't work or really do much of anything but lay around like a looser, so there was no excuse for not having done anything. When he pointed it out though, I got angry and defensive about it. I didn't loose my temper, but I was getting pretty heated about it before he left me alone. I then spent the next half an hour stewing in a spiteful rage before I realized how stupid I was being. It doesn't do any good to not follow good advice because I'm jealous. I'm worried that the next time this comes up I'm going to loose my temper and say something horrible to someone that really doesn't deserve it.
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Post by Guest on Fri Nov 07, 2014 4:52 am

Hi Aggrax,

So while I'm completely unqualified in giving advice on dealing with envy, I think the advice stands well on its own: try to be happy for his successes as much as possible. It's probably going to feel extremely fake and it might even backfire on you by making you feel worse. Be brave and give it a shot nevertheless, and maybe over time you'll get better at it until it becomes a reflex.

And it's Ok to get disheartened during those first tries when the good-feels are fleeting. I hope this helps.

Also, if talking about exercise is one of your triggers, maybe you could make that known to your brother if you can trust that he'll listen to you?

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Post by Enail on Fri Nov 07, 2014 12:51 pm

That's tough, Aggrax. Sometimes it's hard not to feel resentful when it feels like everything's going well for someone else and you're struggling, I'm rather prone to that myself.

I'd suggest trying to separate your feelings about your brother's success and your feelings about his behavior to you. The fact that you feel jealous of him, that's something you're going to have to deal with on your own; feel your feelings, maybe find somewhere to vent like a journal or writing letters you don't send (somewhere where he won't run into them - you don't want to have him land up reading every resentful feeling you've ever had towards him!), maybe practice feeling happy for him as Hermit suggests.

The fact that you feel really angry when he scolds you for not exercising, that might be something you'd do better to act on. Even if his intention is good, having someone check in on you and point out why they don't think you're doing well enough can be really, really unhelpful. Making sure you exercise is your task to be in charge of, and even if you're struggling with it, it's reasonable to set boundaries about how he gets to participate in that, because not all well-intentioned interference is actually going to do you any good.  

Since you know that he's probably just trying to help, it might work best if you can think of a way his concern could be helpful to suggest as a replacement for the way he's doing it now - maybe instead of asking if you've done it and pointing out why you should have (which probably just makes you feel defensive and worse about yourself if you're already feeling bad for not having done it), you could ask him to just suggest doing something active together every so often. Try to bring it up at a time when you're not already feeling resentful and angry.
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Post by Aggrax on Fri Nov 07, 2014 11:51 pm

Enail wrote:That's tough, Aggrax. Sometimes it's hard not to feel resentful when it feels like everything's going well for someone else and you're struggling, I'm rather prone to that myself.

I'd suggest trying to separate your feelings about your brother's success and your feelings about his behavior to you. The fact that you feel jealous of him, that's something you're going to have to deal with on your own; feel your feelings, maybe find somewhere to vent like a journal or writing letters you don't send (somewhere where he won't run into them - you don't want to have him land up reading every resentful feeling you've ever had towards him!), maybe practice feeling happy for him as Hermit suggests.

The fact that you feel really angry when he scolds you for not exercising, that might be something you'd do better to act on. Even if his intention is good, having someone check in on you and point out why they don't think you're doing well enough can be really, really unhelpful. Making sure you exercise is your task to be in charge of, and even if you're struggling with it, it's reasonable to set boundaries about how he gets to participate in that, because not all well-intentioned interference is actually going to do you any good.  

Since you know that he's probably just trying to help, it might work best if you can think of a way his concern could be helpful to suggest as a replacement for the way he's doing it now - maybe instead of asking if you've done it and pointing out why you should have (which probably just makes you feel defensive and worse about yourself if you're already feeling bad for not having done it), you could ask him to just suggest doing something active together every so often. Try to bring it up at a time when you're not already feeling resentful and angry.

I don't feel like I have any right to say anything to him about that. My family tried letting me take charge of my exercise and health and it didn't work out. They know that I'm to lazy to want to exercise and to undisciplined to stick to any sort of plan. But I don't want to ask him to do more because it's not really his responsibility. I shouldn't need to bother him with this stuff, I should be able to do it on my own. That's why I feel so bad about getting mad at him for trying to help. He was completely right and I acted like a child about it.
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Post by Enail on Sat Nov 08, 2014 12:09 am

Aggrax wrote:
I don't feel like I have any right to say anything to him about that. My family tried letting me take charge of my exercise and health and it didn't work out. They know that I'm to lazy to want to exercise and to undisciplined to stick to any sort of plan. But I don't want to ask him to do more because it's not really his responsibility. I shouldn't need to bother him with this stuff, I should be able to do it on my own. That's why I feel so bad about getting mad at him for trying to help. He was completely right and I acted like a child about it.

Most people don't respond very well to feeling like someone else is monitoring what they do and blaming them when they don't do it, even though it's an easy pattern to fall into when you're having a hard time with something and your family feels like they need to push you.  It's okay to say yes, you need some help, but still have a say in what kind of help you would find useful.  

Sometimes people need help with sticking to a plan, that's okay. And you know he wants to help. Mightn't it be better for both of you and for your relationship with each other if you could figure out some things he can do to help that you think might work better and trigger your anger less?

I've gotten the impression before that your family has a very critical way of interacting with you, and that you feel like you should be hard on yourself and have others be hard on you because you don't think you're doing well enough. But I question whether being criticized more is actually something helpful, or if it isn't maybe more demotivating and frustrating. If the level where you're allowed to feel good about it is a really big, faraway goal and you have to keep feeling bad for anything but that high bar, it's hard to keep at it; if you can set and celebrate small goals - even really tiny ones - it can be easier to motivate yourself to keep achieving them.
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Post by Aggrax on Sat Nov 08, 2014 5:44 am

Enail wrote:Most people don't respond very well to feeling like someone else is monitoring what they do and blaming them when they don't do it, even though it's an easy pattern to fall into when you're having a hard time with something and your family feels like they need to push you.  It's okay to say yes, you need some help, but still have a say in what kind of help you would find useful.  

Sometimes people need help with sticking to a plan, that's okay. And you know he wants to help. Mightn't it be better for both of you and for your relationship with each other if you could figure out some things he can do to help that you think might work better and trigger your anger less?

I've gotten the impression before that your family has a very critical way of interacting with you, and that you feel like you should be hard on yourself and have others be hard on you because you don't think you're doing well enough. But I question whether being criticized more is actually something helpful, or if it isn't maybe more demotivating and frustrating. If the level where you're allowed to feel good about it is a really big, faraway goal and you have to keep feeling bad for anything but that high bar, it's hard to keep at it; if you can set and celebrate small goals - even really tiny ones - it can be easier to motivate yourself to keep achieving them.

Things are the way they are because I've already exhausted every other option. I've dealt with me weight all my life and over the past 7 years I've had the issue of diabetes added on to that. In all of it, I'm the weak link. Letting me be the one to set goals and make plans and have some kind of say has just caused things to fail over and over again. The rest of my family shouldn't have to be supporting me through this. They can't loose weight for me or get a job for me or any of those other things. Both of my parents have to work full time and they both try to do what they can to help my Grandmothers, who are both in need of care due to age related issues. Both of my younger brothers have college work to do and their own part time jobs to work. Even if I felt I had the right to ask them for more help, it wouldn't be fair to them for me to do so. They have so much on their plate right now and I'm barely doing anything.

And, to be honest, I'm not sure if my brother wants to be involved in a more consistent manner. His reminders and such aren't really consistent, just kind of spur of the moment. I'm not really sure why he brought it up last night when he did. Plus I'm not really comfortable with talking to him about this sort of thing. It just feels weird.
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Post by InkAndComb on Sun Dec 07, 2014 6:07 pm

If you're not comfortable talking about this stuff with him, then he is the worst person to be bringing this stuff up.

When you mentioned the "flaring up" feeling, I thought immediately of my mom and I's relationship. She is a chronic nagger, and I am a procrastinator; it drove her off the wall how I would shoot myself in the foot. But you know what? Nagging never helped. It never raised the rate of me doing an action, but it DID raise the feelings of guilt and frustration I had.

It also made our relationship super strained. You can't have a healthy relationship with someone who is trying to care-take you, when the only person who can take care of yourself is...yourself.

I know you said that you've been dealing with it and failing, but to be honest? You are allowed to fail. It is YOUR life, you are an adult (I believe?) and failure is the cost of an action. This isn't helpful for solving your problems, except for one; your brother can express concern, but you don't need his criticism because you already know what you need to work on.

May I suggest finding a life coach? Or engaging a friend in efforts to get you to do things? Or speaking to a therapist, or a personal trainer, or anyone like that?

I would highly, highly suggest deflecting comments like the one you recieved with "okay" or "Yeah, I've been thinking about it", noncommittal answers. You'll get strong reactions at first if your family is used to pointing out what you need to work on, but when I started answering reminders or comments on how I could do something better (or should have done something more constructive during the day whydidijuststayhomeplayingvideogameschangetheoilscheduleanappt etc etc etc) with "ok" or "I'll consider that", the conversations got much, much shorter over time until they stopped.

Occasionally this will cause a defensive flare up on the side of the critic; this is an extinction burst. If they could only make you do what was right/best for you then everything would be ok, right??? But that's your job, not theirs, and even if it was theirs, they are failing at it by making you uncomfortable and unhappy (which I doubt is going to make you want to exercise/be healthier).

CaptainAwkward has some good resources on dealing with critical families, and much better scripts than myself. I would mosy over and take a look, see if you can find some similar situations in the comments and advice columns.


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Post by Aggrax on Sat Jan 10, 2015 2:14 am

I'm sorry for bumping this thread but my brother and I had another fight and I don't know.

It all started because I missed a text this morning from a co-workerbecause I was asleep. When I saw them later that day, they mentioned they were close to trying to text my brother instead (he used to work at the same place and they know each other), to see if I was awake. I brought this up in passing because I thought it was kinda silly and things went out of control. He starts telling me I need to stop sleeping during the day and not stay up so late set a schedule like he does.

I know he's right, but I was feeling defensive and tried to deflect back that I sometimes have trouble sleeping at night don't feel tired at the same time. He came back saying, again correctly, that if I actually did something all day instead of just sitting around, I would be more tired. Then he said that I wouldn't have the problems I'm constantly talking about if I would just stop making excuses and actually try fixing something.

At that point I kind of just, broke. I know I shouldn't argue with my brother, because he's smarter than I am and it never gets me anywhere, so I just shut down, telling him I didn't want to have this conversation and asking him to leave. I know I was never a role-model for him, except for what not to do, but I hadn't realized until I heard him agree to leave how completely not worth his time I am anymore.

Edit: I apologize for the quick delete. I had a minor freakout that I really can't explain.
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Post by Enail on Sat Jan 10, 2015 12:56 pm

I don't think that means he doesn't think you're worth his time. It sounds like he could see you were really frustrated with the way he was talking to you and respected your wish not to talk about it with him. That's actually a really good thing. People should respect it when you set boundaries. Setting that kind of boundary is a perfectly reasonable thing to do!

Now, if he's not used to you setting boundaries like that, he might feel like it's an attack (not because it is one or because you were wrong to shut down the conversation, just because it can really shake things up when there's an established dynamic and someone acts to change it in a forceful way), and especially when it happened in the middle of an argument, so you might want to try talking to him about it in a gentler way when you've calmed down. Maybe something like you know he's trying to help but you don't actually find it helpful when he talks to you that way. Just to let him know that setting a limit on how you interact doesn't mean that you don't care about him or want to keep interacting with him.
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Post by reboot on Sat Jan 10, 2015 1:31 pm

I think maybe also asserting the boundary earlier in the conversation might also help. When you deflected back, you engaged in the topic, then it got heated, and then you enforced the boundary. Maybe saying after his initial statement, "I know you care and are trying to help and I appreciate it, but our conversations on these topics do not help, so let's stop here and talk about something else? How was work/school/something he did?"
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Post by Aggrax on Sat Jan 10, 2015 5:05 pm

Enail wrote:I don't think that means he doesn't think you're worth his time. It sounds like he could see you were really frustrated with the way he was talking to you and respected your wish not to talk about it with him. That's actually a really good thing. People should respect it when you set boundaries. Setting that kind of boundary is a perfectly reasonable thing to do!

I don't know, he seemed pretty pissed when I shut down the conversation we haven't really talked since then.

I think he's frustrated with me because I can't explain anything in a way that makes sense to him. He's a very logical person and has, in the past, expressed trouble understand why I do certain things. When we had our brief discussion, he told me that all I need to do to start having a better sleep pattern in to start trying. It's as simple as turning off lights and getting in bed, how did I not understand that. I don't know how to explain, in a way that makes sense, that some nights I stay awake as long as possible because if I go to sleep any sooner my brain won't be exhausted enough and I'll spend hours rolling around alone with my thoughts and that sometimes that terrifies me.

But I'm not smart enough to convey these things effectively, so it doesn't always come out right. Plus, due to several incredibly stupid decisions I made in the past, I don't really have any credibility remaining, so most of what I said just comes off like lies and excuses. I know I shouldn't get emotional or frustrated since it's my fault in the first place, but I feel like I'm smashing my head against a wall sometimes when people have decided I'm lying or whatever and nothing I say or do can convince them otherwise.
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Post by Wondering on Sat Jan 10, 2015 7:01 pm

Can you say what you just wrote here to him?

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Post by Enail on Sat Jan 10, 2015 10:21 pm

Some people have trouble understanding that kind of thing, so don't beat yourself for it if you can't get it through to him, but I agree with Wondering that what you said here might be a good way to try and explain.
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Post by Aggrax on Sun Jan 11, 2015 3:52 am

Wondering wrote:Can you say what you just wrote here to him?

Every time I try to talk to someone about this kind of stuff I just feel stupid. Everything just sounds like a lame excuse. It just makes me sound lazier and dumber than I already am.
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Post by Werel on Sun Jan 11, 2015 4:14 am

Aggrax wrote:
Wondering wrote:Can you say what you just wrote here to him?

Every time I try to talk to someone about this kind of stuff I just feel stupid. Everything just sounds like a lame excuse. It just makes me sound lazier and dumber than I already am.

I don't share your specific situation or problem, but I've been there-- feeling like a frustrated idiot because I can't convey what I need to convey in an emotionally charged conversation. I usually do some prep if it's a conversation I'm really having trouble with or dreading; nothing special, just imagining the conversation again and again over the course of a day or two. Running it in the back of my mind, going through the things I want to express (and how best to phrase them) and exploring as many of the other person's potential responses as possible. It helps me prepare myself for various conversation-possibilities and work through the issue internally-- your brain can come up with some surprising points when you're asking it to think as someone else (e.g. your brother).

Might help you figure out where you stand in all this-- do you want to change in the ways he wants you to (more regular sleep pattern, job, whatever)? Or do you just want him to get off your back about the stuff he wants you to do, but you don't care about that much?
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Post by Aggrax on Mon Jan 12, 2015 3:22 am

Werel wrote:I don't share your specific situation or problem, but I've been there-- feeling like a frustrated idiot because I can't convey what I need to convey in an emotionally charged conversation. I usually do some prep if it's a conversation I'm really having trouble with or dreading; nothing special, just imagining the conversation again and again over the course of a day or two. Running it in the back of my mind, going through the things I want to express (and how best to phrase them) and exploring as many of the other person's potential responses as possible. It helps me prepare myself for various conversation-possibilities and work through the issue internally-- your brain can come up with some surprising points when you're asking it to think as someone else (e.g. your brother).

Might help you figure out where you stand in all this-- do you want to change in the ways he wants you to (more regular sleep pattern, job, whatever)? Or do you just want him to get off your back about the stuff he wants you to do, but you don't care about that much?

I used to do a lot of prep for conversations I was dreading, but they never turned out the way I thought they would. Usually because I would always feel so ashamed or stupid at the end I could barely remember what I wanted to say.

As for where I stand, I feel like a broken record saying this but I don't really know. There are things about myself that I flat out despise, but I feel like these aren't things I can change. Like I'm stuck in a self made rut so deep that I can't climb out. And the only thing anyone ever tells me is to "just climb out" but I can't do that. Sometimes I feel good enough to try, but other times I can't even bring myself to try. And when I feel like that, I just sort of accept that I'm just gonna be like this until I die, and I can't help thinking that, because I've been managing my health so poorly, isn't going to be all that far off.
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