It’s a basic human emotion, jealousy is when you react negatively towards the possibility of losing what you have to someone else. Unlike envy, it usually involves three people, rather than just two: you, the person who has what you want and the person who threatens to take it away.
It’s an unhealthy habit that can make any kind of relationship crumble; if you’re a jealous person, you have seen how much damage it can do. But at the core of jealousy are some fears and expectations that are hard to shake, unless you make a conscious effort to cast them away.
Observe what triggers your jealousy. Certain situations will trigger an image or possibility in your mind that you dread. What are the images and possibilities that pop into your head when jealousy strikes?
– romantic partner interacting with others (co-worker, ex, friend, etc.) – fear of partner cheating with someone who is “better” than you in some way
– child seeming to prefer the company of another adult – insecurity about whether you’re doing a good job as a parent
– parent paying attention to their new partner – fear that the parent will not spend any time with you anymore
– friend spending time with other people – fear that the friend will prefer the other people and will not want to spend time with you anymore
– someone else getting a promotion that you want – insecurity over unmet expectations
Bite your tongue. When you feel jealousy taking over, don’t react in a destructive way. Don’t accuse, don’t give the silent treatment, don’t roll your eyes, and don’t show any signs of displeasure. Try to do the opposite of what a jealous person would do. If a friend is going to spend time with someone else, for example, recommend a good movie or restaurant. If your partner is talking to someone else, leave them be. Do what a completely trusting person would do in your shoes, even if it makes you feel crazy. Jealous behavior can bring any kind of relationship to its knees, so nip it in the bud. Make time to discuss, using nonviolent communication, what made you feel jealous later, when the strong feelings of jealousy have passed, and you’re not as likely to overreact.
Jealousy builds walls–literally.
This wall was built by a man to block view of his brother’s home, who he believed was having an affair with his wife, who he imprisoned for 30 years. Recognize that jealousy is a self-fulfilling prophecy. When you behave jealously, you don’t respond to someone’s behavior–you respond to what you believe someone’s behavior implies. In other words, you’re reacting to a scenario in your mind that you fear, but that hasn’t happened yet, and might not happen at all. By playing with another adult, for example, your child isn’t doing something inherently wrong. Neither is your partner who calls to offer condolences to their ex whose mother just died. But your negative reaction to what you believe their behavior implies (that someone else is somehow better than or more important than you) will make the person feel defensive and paranoid, because they’re being accused of doing something bad. The more defensive and paranoid they get, the more suspicious and jealous you get. It’s a vicious cycle that’s difficult to reverse.
Build self confidence. Jealousy is usually a by-product of insecurity and low self-esteem. Sometimes it’s a deep-rooted fear of abandonment that someone will leave you, or withdraw their love or attention from you because you’re “not good enough”–if so, you need to learn that other people’s behaviour and lives are not a reflection on you. Confident people know that even when they are rejected or ridiculed, it’s not always because they failed; sometimes people are just short-sighted. And even if they do fail, it doesn’t reduce their worth; it simply means they need to learn something new.
Stop comparing yourself to other people. Some people seem to have it all, but be realistic–does anyone really lead a problem-free life? They might seem to lead a comfortable life (as many wealthy people do) but it’s not always a fulfilling life. And even beautiful, successful celebrities have emotional breakdowns, get cheated on, struggle with addictions, get arrested, and lose their fortunes. Make friends with someone who you think has it all–sincerely take an interest in their lives–and you’ll eventually discover that they have their hidden struggles. But they don’t live their lives constantly worried that someone else will come along and take away everything that gives them joy; their lives aren’t characterized by jealousy. Learn from them.
Stop feeling entitled to all of a person’s time. If you get jealous when you see someone you care about interacting with or spending time with someone other than you, then you need to consider “How much of this person’s time do I really want?” It’s understandable if you want to spend a certain amount of quality time with your partner, child, parent, or friend. If they’re not spending any time with you, then your concerns are valid. But if they spend a good deal of time with you but you never feel like it’s enough, and deep down you’d prefer it if you were together all the time, then it’s not healthy. Find other activities, and other people to do them with, to fill your time.
Trust. If you get jealous easily, you’ve probably had your trust broken. Most of the time, the trust was broken in the past, and you inadvertently project your fear of being hurt again onto someone else. The question you need to ask yourself is whether this person (the person who you worry will hurt you) has ever done anything to break your trust in the past. If the answer is no, then it’s important to give them credit for that, and not treat him or her like a criminal. If the person has broken your trust in the past, then it’s time to forgive, or else jealousy will ruin the relationship. Period.
Sometimes jealousy is warranted. Not all partners have a good sense of boundaries. In some instances where this is true – it is truly vital that you question your partner’s judgment and in whom he/she places trust. Boundaries need to be set so you both know what’s appropriate and what’s not in terms of interacting with other people. This is a difficult subject for many couples, but addressing it will prevent arguments down the line. Ask your partner where they draw the line (flirting? kiss on the cheek? peck on the lips? shoulder massage? dancing?) and see if it matches up with yours. If not, talk it over until you can find common ground. Once it’s established, trust your partner and don’t let jealousy get the best of you.
Be positive. Ultimately, jealousy is a fear-based behavior. You’re spending a lot of time worrying about something bad that hasn’t happened yet, and might not happen at all. In doing so, you’re increasing the likelihood of bad things happening by fostering suspicion and distrust. Try to focus on the positive, instead. Be thankful for what you have. And remember that if someone is going to hurt you, there’s nothing you can do to stop it anyway. No amount of nagging, monitoring, accusation, snooping, or guarding will prevent you from being hurt. If you believe in someone, believe in them completely; give them all your trust. The benefit of the doubt is essential for any relationship to work. And if you really don’t trust them, if you really feel that the person is weak, deceptive, or otherwise untrustworthy, then don’t associate with them. You deserve better.
Always examine your jealous thoughts for a sense of entitlement. Whatever it is that someone is getting and you’re not (thus sparking jealousy) is something that you feel entitled to; something that you feel is rightfully yours. Instead of trying to convince someone (through jealous behavior) that they should give you what you want, think of ways you can earn it. Focus on being a good person.
The best way to make someone spend even more time away from you is to act jealous. When you’re being angry, snarky or sarcastic, you’re not only less fun to be around, you’re making the person feel that you think you own them.
Prepare a list of good qualities about yourself and focus inward. This will help resolve any internal insecurities that you have. Remember, those insecurities are manifested outwardly through your jealousy.
Do not let them see that you are jealous, because they could have the right to be mad at you.
Give yourself a day to cool down, do not react immediately. Always give your partner the benefit of the doubt.
Do not believe anything until you have actually seen it…. but if you have a bad feeling and you are absolutely convinced your partner is cheating, then just walk away, it is hard but time heals any wound, there are plenty of fish in the sea.
Overcoming jealousy will take time. Be patient with yourself.
Never let your feelings of jealousy push you to abuse someone, verbally or physically.
Don’t get angry at the person you’re jealous of – it will only make things worse.
always take a second to tell them how much you love them
Just because you feel or see something in your mind, doesn’t mean it is true. Focus on reality.
“Love is not jealous, … does not look for its own interests, does not become provoked.”1 Corinthians 13:4