Dealing with controlling people is never easy.
When it’s an older sister trying to control what you do, say, and how you live your life, it’s even more complicated.
If you want to maintain a good relationship with your sister and other family members while telling her to back off, you need to tread carefully!
If you need some tips on how to deal with a controlling older sister, here are 9 ways how you can manage the situation:
How to Deal With a Controlling Older Sister – 9 Tips!
1. Try to Understand Their Motivations
Before you can deal with any controlling person, you need to try to understand their motivations.
Are they trying to control you because they’re worried about you?
Or are they just trying to exert power over you and make themselves feel better?
If it’s the former, then there might be some underlying issues that you can address together.
But if it’s the latter, then you need to be more firm in setting boundaries.
2. Never React in Anger
It’s important to never react in anger when dealing with a controlling person, and this is especially true of an older sister.
If you get defensive or lash out, it will only make the situation worse and you could end up with a family fall-out.
Instead, try to stay calm and collected. This way, you’ll be able to better deal with the situation.
Plus, if you can keep your cool, it will only make you look more mature and in control, which might make your sister back down.
3. Try to Empathize and Talk to Them
Try to see things from your sister’s perspective and then have a calm discussion with her about why she’s trying to control you.
Empathizing with her might help her to see that her behavior is unreasonable.
Even if it doesn’t change her behavior, it will at least let her know that you understand how she feels.
Older siblings often feel like they have to help out, like it’s their role. But obviously controlling behaviors are crossing that line.
4. Set Some Boundaries
If your sister is crossing the line, it’s important to set some boundaries.
This might mean telling her firmly that she can’t tell you what to do or how to live your life.
Or it might mean setting up some physical boundaries, like not going into your room without knocking first.
Whatever boundary you set, make sure you’re clear and consistent with it.
If she doesn’t respect your boundaries, then you might need to take some more drastic measures.
5. Remind Yourself That You’re In Charge of Your Life
If your sister is constantly trying to tell you what to do, it can be easy to start doubting yourself and feeling like you have no control over your life.
But it’s important to remind yourself that you’re the one in charge of your life, not her.
You get to decide what you do, where you go, and who you spend your time with.
And no matter how much she tries to control you, she can’t take that away from you.
If you make some mistakes, that’s normal. We all have to learn from our mistakes, and it’s better to have made your own decisions.
6. Be Prepared to Distance Yourself From Her
If your sister is constantly trying to control you and it’s starting to affect your mental health, then you might need to distance yourself from her.
This doesn’t mean that you have to cut her out of your life completely, but it might mean setting some physical or emotional boundaries.
For example, you might decide not to see her as often or not to share as much with her.
Or you might decide to only talk to her about certain topics and not others.
You need to make a call about what’s right for yourself, and if that means seeing her less but it’s for the greater good, do it.
7. Start Being Assertive in the Moment
If your sister is trying to control something you’re doing or saying, it’s important to be assertive at that moment and put a stop to it.
This might mean saying something like, “I don’t appreciate you telling me what to do” or “I’m not going to do that.”
It might also mean walking away from the situation or ending the conversation altogether.
The worst thing you can do is let her steamroll over you and tell yourself that you’ll talk to her about it later.
There might not be a later, or later doesn’t have the same impact. She needs to think twice next time she’s about to overstep a boundary!
8. Keep In Mind That It’s Nothing Personal
If your sister is constantly trying to control you, it’s easy to start taking it personally and feel like she doesn’t respect you or end up thinking that it’s you in the wrong.
But try to remember that her behavior is not about you.
It’s likely that she has some underlying issues that she needs to deal with, and her controlling behavior is a way for her to feel in control of her own life.
It’s not personal, even if it feels like it is. Once you really know and appreciate this, it’s easier to look at her behavior as her issue, not yours.
9. Ask Them to Get Help
If your sister’s controlling behavior is really starting to affect you, then it might be time to ask her to get some help.
This could mean asking her to see a therapist or go to counseling.
It might also mean asking her to read up on some articles or books about toxic behavior in relationships.
Whatever you do, make sure you’re firm and clear with your request.
Explain how it’s making you feel, the impact it’s had on you over the years, and how controlling behavior, in general, is suffocating and toxic.
Something has to help her see how her behavior is affecting you.
As I said, in most cases, older sisters are only trying to help. Once they are made to see that they can help by not being controlling, it usually hits home!
Image credits – Photo by Hannah Busing on Unsplash
Phil lives in England, UK, and has around 20 years experience as a professional life, career and executive coach. He started this blog to help others find and define their own self development journey. Blogging about a wide range of topics to help facilitate a better future.