1. When they knock, answer.
2. Take out the garbage before having dinner.
3. You can’t win them all.
Keep your expectations in check or neutral. If your expectations are sky high, you will likely be disappointed. You will evaluate the encounter as a “glass half empty”, when it is really a “glass half full”.
Come down to earth and embrace the reality that, “you can’t win them all”. Sometimes, you will re-connect with someone and be disappointed. Sometimes you will attempt a re-connection and the other person will not answer. Friendships, even with siblings, require mutuality. It is a “we” thing. There is a dance, where we have to gauge whether the other person wants to dance and is dancing.
4. Ask for permission to speak freely, if you need to confront.
Some people exclaim, “I need to say, _____”, or, “I have to confront you on, _____”. Another way to share (a share-frontation), that I just learned from hearing John Townsend, is to ask, as they do in the military, “(May I have) permission to speak freely?” If they say, “yes”, then you tell them, gently, how what they said or did hurt you.
5. Say, “That’s not my problem.”
If you are a caring person who likes to help, serve, deliver, heal, or fix people; you may need one last piece. That is to be able to say, “That’s not my problem”. This is especially apt when the other person triangles in a third party into your conversation (gossip).
You may have to learn to say, “That’s not my problem”, in your head, a lot. But, when people are in front of you, asking for your help, that is a whole different thing.
“That’s not my problem”, is short for, “That’s not my problem to fix or solve”.
“That’s not my problem”, is mainly for when you hear “other people’s stories”.
When your friend or sibling tells you their problem, you need to keep in mind that they are not necessarily asking for help or want help. Let them just tell you. Let it be their problem and let them ask you for help or advice.
There is a dance involved in a relationship where we inevitably tell the other person our troubles. It is respectful and loving to hold back and not give advice or try to fix them. We have to find a way to do step 4, above, and ask permission before dispensing advice.
You might take out the garbage so well, that you forget past slights or offenses and truly start over with this person. You might have so much grace and godly love in you now, that you no longer need them to give you anything and you do not have a need to fix them.
If you can not be in a relationship with someone who takes and doesn’t give much, or who is not whatever you need them to be, then that is your issue to work out. You might need to lower your expectation of certain people and look around and watch for people who are a better fit for you.