This post is an answer to a submitted question. It aims to provide help and solutions to overcome the issue.
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"How can I be at peace with my brother?
How can I be at peace with a loved one, my only sibling, when he rejects all efforts to connect and instead harbors anger and ill will toward me?
My brother has severe mental health issues and is an alcoholic. He won't seek counseling or treatment and blames me for his unhappiness. We are as different as brothers can be. I have told him I'm sorry for past conversations and that I was no more at fault than he, but he would rather be angry. He pushed our father out of his life for nothing my dad ever did to him, and my dad dies never having reconciled. My brother doesn't date, nor does he have any close friends. He has alienated everyone and believes he's perfect. Everyone else is wrong. He is an angry man. It's all very sad. I have offered repeatedly to help him however I can, and he has refused my overtures.
Two nights ago, he lashed out at me and was cruel, mean, and probably drunk via texting. Every three months, when I visit, I ask him to join me for lunch or dinner, and he doesn't. I haven't said one critical or negative thing to him in at least eight months, but he holds on to anger caused by a conversation 1-2 years ago. Once again, I have apologized for my part, but he has never learned to apologize because he believes he's perfect.
I have only one sibling, him, so this crushes me. I'm not the problem. He cries out for help on social media, and it's sad. How can I be at peace with my brother?"
My Response if we were in a coaching setting. Although without being able to ask questions I may assume or use scenarios to fill in the gaps.
Conflicts with a family member, especially a sibling, can be incredibly challenging and emotionally draining. It is natural to desire peace and harmony within your family, but sometimes, certain circumstances and dynamics can make it challenging to achieve that.
Before attempting to find peace with your brother, it is crucial to understand the underlying issues he may be facing. Poor mental health and alcoholism can significantly impact a person's behavior and relationships. It is important to remember that his actions might not solely be directed towards you, but rather a projection of his own struggles.
It's clear to me that the bank account of goodwill is low in this relationship. Every interaction is either a deposit or a withdrawal. Negative interactions have three or more times the impact than positive. Relationships and goodwill thrive when there's a good feeling, listening deeply, trust, kindness, understanding, and healthy communication.
Expectations always end in disappointment.
Letting go of expectations allows for more acceptance and peace. Instead, focus on fostering a sense of compassion, understanding, and peace within yourself.
You see, our relationship with ourselves and life is the foundation of how we act and behave with other people.
We can't forgive others if we can't forgive ourselves.
He may not know how, have the tools, want to, or have the understanding of how it would set him free.
Your brother is suffering from addictive behaviors, pushing people away, and isolation, it's clear. It's serving him in some way. It's what he knows.
Empathy, compassion, open mind, and heart can go a long way in fostering understanding and healing.
Express your remorse genuinely and listen to his perspective without judgment. Read back over the submission. Is there any judgment?
If I removed all judgment and criticism, all that's left is: "How can I be at peace?" What else?
What do you have control over?
You, your thoughts, feelings, and actions. Nothing else.
Peace is easy to access when you're fully in this moment, now. Peace isn't in thinking, analyzing, comparing, judging the past or worrying about the future.
Being at peace is focusing all YOUR mental, emotional, and physical energy on you. Your relationship with yourself, life, and then others that enter into your life and you have accepted in your sphere to enhance the experience we call life.
Peace comes from forgiveness and letting go.
This doesn't have to involve a dialog, debate, or horse trading (I did it; now you should do it). Peace doesn't come when your brother is healthy and happy. Attaching our peace to a certain status of any imperfect human can set you up for months, years, or a lifetime of suffering. Your peace isn't going to come from the wellbeing of another person. That's not where any positive emotion comes from. The energy is neediness, "I am not ok, unless you are ok." That's a lot of pressure to put on someone, and it comes from ego. I understand your intentions are good, from your heart, it lands or conveys differently, however. The message that's delivered for your brother is that he is broken, something is wrong/different about him, and the worst feeling is that he is not good enough. No one wants to feel that way; it causes people to be isolated, bitter, resentful and angry.
What I know to be true is if someone feels they are not good enough in someone's eyes, they will certainly not take advice from them. On the other hand if someone is accepting, compassionate and empathetic to their mental and life struggles, they are a bit more likely to listen. Empathy isn't pity by the way. Sympathy and empathy are very different. Empathy is simply seeking, listening and being willing to see and understand another human being and how their reality must be, what it's like to be in their shoes. Sympathy is harmful and destructive to relationships goodwill, it's feeling pity, trying to rescue or fix them and that is received as they are broken, incapable and less than.
Understand that your brother's journey towards peace and healing might differ from yours.
We can both agree he needs help, which will likely come from someone with the training and expertise to do it. What he needs from you is compassion and acceptance.
Practice acceptance with other people. When in a conversation, become super comfortable with being neutral on topics. Seeking to understand other peoples, perceptions, realities, views, and how they come to their opinions and positioning. Seek to understand vs demanding to be understood or right.
Consider this, as much as you think you're correct about your views, so is he.
Being "right" is an illusion. As much as you believe you need to show him otherwise, he believes you must be shown otherwise. Letting go of what is right/wrong, good/bad, better/worse is freeing.
Forgiveness does not mean condoning his behavior, but rather freeing yourself from the burden of negativity. Forgiveness doesn't have to be a meeting or conversation, it can be done internally. You know when you have when you think only warm, positive thoughts about your brother.
What can you control?
Your thoughts, feelings and actions.
Choose thoughts that serve you. The feelings will follow. How to get clear on this would be sitting down and writing out the answer to the Question to yourself: HOW DO I WANT TO FEEL?
The key is to write out 10 very powerful positive words that empower you, have you choosing to live your life how it's meant, from the inside out. You see it's evident in this submission you're being controlled and a slave to things external to you, your brother. You're held hostage, and you believe you won't be at peace until your brother's wellbeing and happiness is a certain way. This is needless suffering. Things that we desire outside of us that aren't in our control can corrupt and profoundly effect our experience in this life negatively if we allow it. Choose to be at peace, and you will.
In the submission, the only thing that was clear on what you want, that's within your control, is peace. What else? Describe it from your heart, your soul... What matters to you at end of your life? Sure your brother is all you have left, we don't choose our blood relatives, you can choose how you think, feel and what actions to take. You can choose what consumes your mental and emotional energy.
If you choose to feel at peace, and perhaps, light, hopeful, forgiving, accepting, empathy, free, abundance, connected, grateful..
What do these words mean to you, if they were the ones you chose?
Not the Webster dictionary meaning, what they mean to you in this situation? (for example)
- What's the energy of these words?
What's the action that would follow these words when it pertains to this situation, your life and what you have control over?
Example: Peace, might mean to you focusing your vital mental and emotional energy to feeling vibrant, free-spirited, happy, and relaxed through out the day. The action might be blocking off time to recharge yourself in nature, breathing fresh air and connecting to the present moment.
Empathy could mean for you to go easier on yourself, recognize, and become aware of what judgments pop up in your thoughts and words each day towards yourself, life and others. Truly noticing when you're seeing fault in yourself, life and things externally. The action might be to block out time in the morning, midday, and evening to write down all the wonderful things you're grateful for, starting with the tiny things that can easily be overlooked and taken for granted.
You see when we pour into ourselves focus on the things we can control, we use our energy to foster and create a life we deeply enjoy, create the feelings we want to feel and the things externally will see you model this behavior and be pulled into that energy and want to learn and experience it or they will be repelled by it for it's something they don't understand, neither is right or wrong because that would be a judgment.
If you choose to reach out to your brother, any jester would be without attachment to an outcome or attachment to an expectation. True love is without conditions. Seeking an outcome or holding expectations only creates suffering.
If you choose, let him know that you genuinely care about his wellbeing and are there for him if he ever needs someone to talk to. Sometimes, the simple act of knowing someone is there for you can make a significant difference.
Set healthy boundaries. Boundaries are for you, not someone else. This looks like knowing how much time, effort, and energy you can handle and protecting your mental and emotional energy until you become a black belt at understanding where your feelings come from. This is what I work with one one-on-one with my clients, providing them the emotional freedom in their life, defining and creating a happy, fulfilling life.
Finding peace with a brother who rejects your help and holds ill will towards you is undoubtedly challenging. However, by understanding his struggles, forgiveness, healthy communication, practicing self-care, and embracing patience, acceptance, and love, you can pave the way for a more peaceful relationship if you choose.
Remember that your own wellbeing should be a priority and all you really can control.
I hope this helps. I wish you all the best. Please share this with anyone you believe would benefit from the insights. Post a comment, I read and reply to them all. Thank you in advance!
If you want to send a question, please send to firstname.lastname@example.org please include:
- A coachable question (something that addresses what's in your control, your thoughts, feelings or actions.)
- And context, explain a situation in the past, currently going through, or worries/concerns of the future, giving me some details on your thoughts and feelings about it.
To learn more about mental fitness go HERE