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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 March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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