Feelings are messengers, right? They bring information, you act rationally on it, they leave.
At our best, we can imagine those feelings gently knocking on the door. Hello? Yes, I’m Sadness. It’s okay to let me in, I brought tissues and chocolate. A bad thing just happened. Have some rest.
When Jealousy arrives, though, it tends to kick the door down in a frenzy of terror, clenching your gut and driving your heartrate up, making you feel for all the world that you’re about to lose something and you must act URGENTLY.
Jealousy (not to be confused with envy, though often intertwined with it), at its core, is the fear of losing someone, or having your relationship threatened by another person.
While it often coexists with love, jealousy is not an inherent part of love, nor is it a way of demonstrating the strength of one’s love.
Jealousy tends to come along with a whole lot of emotional reasoning. I feel bad, therefore, someone is doing something wrong and they should stop. I feel scared/angry/jealous when you spend too much time with that person, therefore, talking to them is an affront against me.
Likewise, jealousy cops a pretty bad rap, based on the behaviours associated with it. You checked my phone messages, you lost your temper, you’re trying to control who I spend time with, therefore, jealousy must be bad and wrong.
Your feelings are never wrong or bad, and don’t warrant value judgements like that. The behaviours that ensue, however, can be unhelpful or damaging.
There’s no doubt that jealousy, to some degree, is natural. Babies experience it, and so do animals. But it doesn’t naturally follow that we need to make the world around us conform in such a way that we can avoid this unpleasant feeling.
Check the situation rationally
If you’re in a relationship with someone who lies, cheats, or disappears mysteriously for days at a time and doesn’t want to talk about it, you may not be in the right relationship. That’s an article for another day.
If, however, you’re feeling jealousy over fairly innocent interactions, friendships, or situations where there’s no obvious indication of broken relationship agreements, it might be time to enquire gently into what this feeling is trying to tell you.
Last night, a man I have romantic feelings for told me that he enjoyed watching movies with another female friend of ours, because it was easy and relaxed with her. His friendship with her didn’t have all the added complications and intricacies of the more romantic connection we shared. I clenched, as some deeply hurt and long-remembering part of myself threw on the alarm bells. And then I remembered… I don’t have to be everything for him. Nor do I even want that.
I don’t even like watching movies!
Questions to ask yourself
If we take the time to sit with jealousy, instead of reacting instantly to try and be rid of it, it can be a gateway to all sorts of helpful information.
Is there a part of me that feels inadequate or not good enough?
Is there something missing from my relationship, or is there some way in which I feel unfulfilled by it?
Is there something I am expecting from this person that I could be taking responsibility for myself?
What am I actually afraid of? (Sit with this one a real long time).
Are there long-standing emotional patterns in my life that need to be healed in relation to this fear?
Will my knee-jerk reaction help ensure that what I’m afraid of won’t come true?
Healing the past
If you’ve been hurt, betrayed, or abandoned in the past, that will likely feed into your present-day jealousy. Your jealousy may be a signpost to past traumas that need to be addressed and healed.
If you’ve received strong stories about the all-consuming exclusivity of romantic relationships growing up, that expectation might also be feeding it.
If you have self-esteem issues, or feel that you’re not good enough, then it might be that other people make you feel threatened simply because you perceive them as more desirable or “better.”
Whatever’s under there, information is power, and once you have access to that information, you can make decisions about what to do with it.
Talking about it
To heal jealousy in a relationship, it’s important to talk about it openly and honestly, with a genuine attitude of exploration and a goal to reach a mutually beneficial outcome.
Stick to “I” statements (I feel frightened when you spend time with her) and avoid accusations (You always spend so much time with him), and see if you can find ways to alleviate these negative repercussions together. Be open to new, mutually beneficial solutions that don’t involve forcing unwanted rules on each other.
When harnessed and used for good, jealousy may turn out to be the warning light that leads to a smoother running relationship engine and a stronger sense of self (I do love a good analogy!).
If jealousy is having a negative effect on your life or relationship and you’re ready to start the healing process, get in touch today for a free 15-minute consultation call.