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How Our Siblings Greatly Influence Our Success

How Our Siblings Greatly Influence Our Success

As an introspective and psychologically curious middle child, I’m fascinated with how siblings can affect each other, not just as children, but also into adulthood. As more statistically based studies are conducted on birth order, psychologists are finding that order itself isn’t as powerful as once thought. Instead, the affect siblings (as people) have on each other is more important.

“Growing up with each other generates differences” says Dr. Sylvia Rimm, Psychologist and Director of the Family Achievement Center in Cleveland Ohio. She speaks of the push and pull of relationships which generate a psychologically polarizing affect between siblings. We naturally want to individuate ourselves from our siblings.

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I remember this from my own childhood and teenage years. I was upset that one of my sisters borrowed my clothes. I still remember the way it felt to this day. I somehow felt that people would see my sister wearing my clothes and I would lose a unique aspect of myself.

I think this especially bothered me because I saw my sister as prettier than me, and I adopted my unique fashion sense to be special. It sounds funny now, but this desire for individuality is backed by research. It can have a strong affect on each person’s approach to themselves and situations in life. This sibling differentiation is reinforced by parents by labeling children “the smart one” or “the sporty one”. This differentiation is especially powerful in siblings of similar age and gender. On a positive note, our differences feed competition.

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This competitive feeling can translate into our adult and work lives. We may be acting on old rivalries or reacting to people in ways we learned growing up with certain people for siblings. The type of person our sibling is makes a huge difference in who we are and choices we make in life.

Let’s say your older sister was always a grade A student right from the start. With teachers, parents, and friends pegging her for Dartmouth since grade school, a couple of different outcomes can unfold, depending on your innate personality. First, it could set a pattern in your life for under achieving as the particular ability of being brainy is “already taken”. Secondly, it could set a pattern for an alternative (but just as achievement-oriented) success route from you sibling, like sports versus academics.

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The number of siblings has a huge affect on our interaction with the world according to the research in “Money and Success – Sibling and Birth-Order Affects on Positional Concerns” It notes how single children are more pre-occupied with their social positioning or “positional concern” than children of multiple child families. Single children grow up with more pressure of living up to parental expectations.

Not having any siblings makes them the center of attention, and the central focus of hope and parental projection of their own aspirations. For people who did grow up with siblings, the more siblings we had the more positional concern we tend to develop and therefore, the more we care about relative income and relative successfulness, regardless of birth order.

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The more people you have to individuate yourself from as a kid, the harder you tend to work to succeed as an adult. Siblings are our first interaction with the world beyond our parents.

The sibling relationship is really the place where we develop social skills with peers, rather than authority figures. These early interactions can spill over into our lives as we grow into adulthood and age. Our approach to other people is our approach to the world. So if we have learned to function well with our siblings, we can implement that success into our new relationships throughout life.

Whether we emulate siblings, learn from their mistakes, or deviate from them as much as possible, it’s clear that siblings have a huge affect on each other from a psychological and sociological perspective. However, no matter your birth order, how much you have bonded or pulled away from your sibling as a person or in interests, you are never limited to anything. You have every opportunity to develop in ways that make you unique and happy. All you need is a little perspective to recognize behavioral patterns and work on them.

It’s absolutely possible for siblings to be mutually successful; maybe in completely different ways. It all depends on who you are as individuals and how you decide to interpret and act on the interactions you experienced with those we so fondly (or sometimes not fondly) called our siblings.

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Hannah Glenn

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Last Updated on July 5, 2019

5 Reasons Why You Should Always Be Yourself

5 Reasons Why You Should Always Be Yourself

When it comes to being yourself, there can be a lot of pressure from the outside world as it tries to influence who you are. Living in a society that is constantly developing, it’s important for you to always be yourself from the inside out. When you deeply know yourself and the boundaries that you have set, you are more likely to experience a fulfilling and rewarding life. Without knowing yourself and establishing those boundaries, you can easily be pushed around and end up on a dirt path.

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it” – Matthew 7:13-14

You have the option of taking the path that is broad or taking the path that is narrow. You can either conform to what life wants you to be, or have the courage to remain true to yourself throughout the years. It’s definitely a challenge to have a strong sense of self when we are constantly getting distracted and being influenced by the media and society’s way of life. But if you want to reach your fullest potential in life, it all starts with being yourself.

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Why should you always be yourself?

Because you will:

  1. Live in alignment with your values and beliefs. Being yourself is all about knowing what you believe in and the values that you live by. When you are not yourself, you will take on the values and beliefs of others. This is when you start conforming to other people’s expectations and way of thinking. When you know your values and why you do what you do, you will live according to your own values and beliefs.
  2. Establish your own identity. When you are able to have a solid foundation of being you, you are establishing your own sense of identity. No matter what happens in your life, you will always know who you are. There will be times where you may feel lost or distracted, but if you have your own identity you’ll be able to get back on the right path. Without establishing your own identity, you may easily conform and lose yourself.
  3. Build courage. It takes a great amount of courage when you decide to take the path that goes against the crowd. The reason why the majority of people take the broad path is because it’s easy. It’s easy to just follow the crowd. It’s more of a challenge when you stay true to yourself and establish your own identity. This challenge of always being yourself takes courage and inner strength. No matter what comes your way, you’ll know how to handle it.
  4. Establish boundaries. When you are always yourself, you know what your limits are and the boundaries that you have set for yourself. When people cross your boundaries, you will know. But if you don’t establish boundaries, people may very well walk all over you and take advantage of you. If you are always yourself and you establish boundaries, you are more likely to be aware when people start taking advantage of you. Create and establish your boundaries.
  5. Find focus and direction. When you are always yourself, you are more likely to have focus and direction in your life. Imagine someone who is constantly conforming to other people’s expectations. Do you think this person has focus and direction? I don’t think so. When you stay true to who you are, you are more likely to know the goals you want to accomplish and how to go about accomplishing them. You are able to stay focused and know which direction to take in order for you to accomplish your goals.

No matter what you experience in life, the only person that will always remain constant is you.

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Featured photo credit: María Victoria Heredia Reyes via unsplash.com

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