All I see is how perfect my sister in-law is and how wonderful her life is, as opposed to how damaged I feel and what I don’t have. We’re struggling with severe infertility which has made it worse. She has jealousy issues herself and is nasty to me at times. It’s hurtful and infuriating. How do I overcome this? And how do I boost my self esteem?
Thank you for sharing your feelings with us.
It sounds like you are projecting your low self-esteem onto your sister-in-law. It’s important to remember that you can thrive regardless of another person’s behaviour and actions. Right now, you need to focus on what you need to thrive. Shift the energy you are expending away from your sister-in-law, and put that energy into you.
My first suggestion is to sit down with a notebook and write down ten things about your life that you are grateful for. Paying attention to the things in your life that are working well will help you refocus. It will help you see the positive and what is working well. This may not be easy, but everyone can find at least ten things.
At first, it may be that you are thankful for this website that offers free advice. Perhaps you are thankful to have access to the internet and all of the resources it gives you. Maybe there are things about your partner that you are thankful for? What about your health (your eyesight, the ability to hear, the ability to walk)? Are you thankful for what you have (the clothes you wear, your vehicle, your home)? You may want to recognize the qualities you possess (your great sense of humor, or insightfulness, your caring nature, your confidence). Think about at least ten things. Do this every night before you go to bed.
My next sugesstion is to wirte out positive affirmations, post them around your house, and read them aloud to yourself as you go about your day.
A key step to boosting your self-esteem, is to work on enjoying your own company. Pay close attention to your language and the way you talk to yourself. Are your words and thoughts positive or negative? If you notice a long stream of negative thoughts, interrupt them. These negative thoughts are a bad habit that is important to break. When you catch yourself thinking or speaking negatively, tell yourself to “Stop! This is not serving me right now.” Then, say something positive. Remind yourself of the things you are thankful for, or repeat the positive affirmations you’ve written.
Another step is to making a point to of doing activities that you enjoy – things that make you feel good. This could be singing loudly, dancing, painting, playing at a park, running through a field. What did you use to do as a child that made you feel good? What sorts of things do you and your partner to do together that made you feel connected?
Once you choose to shift your focus onto your needs, it will enable you to deflect the “nastiness” you get from your sister-in-law. Yes, you’re the one who has to put in the effort to change, however unfair it may feel at times. As the saying goes, “you have to create the change.”
To begin repairing this relationship will require a shift in your response to the negative energy. For example, she is probably used to you reacting when she says something negative. It is up to you to (internally) repeat the phrases you’ve been practicing and remind yourself of your worth. Choose to ignore the negativity. Or, be positive instead. Over time, this response will come more naturally.
How can you start to build a relationship? Little things like telling her a joke, sending her a funny email or an interesting article, or vocalizing her strengths are very effective ways to build the relationship. Pay close attention to the things she does well so you can thank her for them. Again, at first it may be as simple as, “those potatoes you made were excellent,” “I really love that shirt your wearing,” “you always keep your bathroom so clean,” “I feel safe when you are driving.”. These kinds of things go a long way in rebuilding a relationship. Perhaps you and your husband can brainstorm “relationship repair techniques” together.
Hopefully these suggestions will benefit you and your family. Of course, if you feel you would benefit from one-on-one assitance, or futher counselling around your relationship or difficulties with self-esteem, we are here to help. Contact us anytime.
Tina Cowan, Master’s Intern