I’ve been upset these days: I have a little sister who is several years younger than me. We grew up together and had a fine relationship back then. Up until I turned into a teenager in high school, her attitude started to change. I realized she started to bad-mouth people that she didn’t get along with so I keep a distance with her. Things get worse due to forceful interference from family members. Until later and even now, whenever I try to get over the barrier and mend our relationship a bit by looking to her fine points and praise her, she became so conceited. It gets to the point that she’d bad-mouth me or even her brother (also younger than me) to make herself look good in front of parents and others.

It seems like she always try to prove herself to be the best, the smartest while while she’s not really. She got envious and show that directly whenever I got recognition for my education/schooling, my job or anything little thing that I do. I think she’s just so ridiculous, just never grow up. It comes to the point where she did cruel things to my pets that I love just to draw attention or as a way to deal with her own negative feelings, I don’t really know. just what’s the problem with her? She wanted to go for an art school, but it turned out she didn’t have enough passion and patience for that. She quit and claimed to go for the medical school, it’s way too difficult for her and she quit again. No one including me said anything about that as long as she tries to accept herself and focus on current tasks. Then she got out of school, applied for a job and quit sometime later. Her over-conceited attitude caused her trouble at workplace again.

And now, she’s direct her insecurities at me who got higher than her whenever possible. I really hate that kind of fraud. What should I do? (From the USA)

A:  I don’t think this is yours to fix. You stated your age in the profile as 29 — and at this stage in life your emphasis needs to be on your growth and development rather than trying to heal your sister.

There is wisdom from Al-anon, the 12-step program for family and friends of people who struggle with alcohol. They suggest to “detach with love” as a way of coping. I’ve written about this here, and think you might find some useful thoughts about your relationship with your sister. The key is to realize this is your sister’s issue and not letting it become yours is key. Less contact, less sharing of the particulars of your life, and more emphasis on developing those relationships where you are prized and appreciated and you can support others is the way to go.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral