Jealousy: Define & Conquer

Jealousy doesn't have to be something you learn to live with. Understand how jealousy causes you problems and take action to conquer the green-eyed monster.

Mike - Monster's Inc. 

Mike - Monster's Inc. 

Jealousy is an emotional reaction to a perceived threat, real or imagined, to a valued relationship or it's quality. In it's most potent form, romantic jealousy is one of the most destructive forces in a loving relationship. It can cause irreversible emotional trauma, literally drive people to kill and leave friendships in absolute ruin. To say that jealousy can be a problem in our lives is an understatement. 

Feelings of fear, anxiety, insecurity and anger can overwhelm and take you over, to a point beyond conscious control. It can be triggered when your partner is out with her friends, upon hearing about her 'male' friends at work or because a potential rival made her laugh, even the most trivial of circumstances!

Fortunately, jealousy isn't something that has to control you. For anyone aspiring to become the best they can be, conquering jealousy is a step that must eventually be tackled. If you understand what jealousy is, where it comes from and have an effective strategy to tame the green-eyed monster, you can enjoy an enriching relationship free from jealousy's ill-effects. 

A very Common Scenario:

You're out at a social gathering with your girlfriend. You need to use the bathroom so you let the Mrs. know, then head off. When you get back, you see that she's is in the middle of a conversation with a potential rival. He happens to be better looking, appears more successful and seems like he knows everyone at the party. 

Immediately you feel threatened and emotions of fear, anxiety & anger start to stir, rise up through your loins and settle as a tight ball in your chest. Instead of letting the interaction continue without feeding your already heightened emotions, you decide to observe the interaction from afar and let your mind 'imagine' worst-case scenarios:

"She's more attracted to him than me."

"Unless I do something, they're going to go back to his place and have sex."

Survival mode has been activated...

As your fear, anxiety, insecurity and anger levels continue to rise rapidly, you begin to feel more and more overwhelmed until you eventually submit to your heightened emotional state. From this point on, everything you do and say will come from an insecure mind-set and be purely reactive.

Some people choose to start a fight, whilst other's prefer to lash out at their partners and try to inflict some kind of emotional (or physical) wound. Both of these reactions are completely unacceptable for the capable man and will likely leave you feeling ashamed or embarrassed, probably both.

And guess what.... It's all completely NORMAL.

Jealousy is in Our Biological Make-up.

These reactions stem from innate emotional responses that we have developed in order to protect our genetic line. Back in our cave men years, when our social skills involved primitive grunts & aggressive behaviour to communicate, if we didn't feel jealous, we wouldn't have felt the need to react to a rival trying it on with our partner. We would have comfortably let the situation unfold and potentially miss our window of opportunity to mate. Jealousy as an emotional response has evolved out of necessity.

However, we have come a long way since our cave men ancestors and it is no longer acceptable to act out in primitive ways. Feeling jealous is normal, but reacting to these emotions in immature ways is unacceptable, especially to those aspiring to better themselves. 

According to clinical psychologist Christina Hibbert:

Jealousy becomes problematic when we act in jealousy or we wallow in it.
— Christina Hibbert

The problem isn't that we feel jealous, it's how we react to those feelings. 

Jealousy Defined

Jealousy is an emotion, and the word typically refers to the thoughts and feelings of insecurity, fear, concern, and anxiety over an anticipated loss or status of something of great personal value, particularly in reference to a human connection. In its original meaning, jealousy is distinct from envy, though the two terms have popularly become synonymous in the English language, with jealousy now also taking on the definition originally used for envy alone. 

At the root of all jealousy lies the fear of loss. The fear that our partner will leave us for someone else and we will lose someone incredibly important to us. This explains why the emotional reactions can be so intense. 

But remember, it isn't the feeling of jealousy that causes us problems, it's our reaction to these emotions. In the moments when these feelings are triggered, you have a choice. 

Understanding

Conquering your jealous behaviours begins with 2 important understandings. 

Firstly, you should understand that feeling jealous isn't a big deal. In fact it's normal. It's how you react to these emotions that causes problems.

And secondly, you should understand that you can choose how to react to jealousy. You don't have to be that guy who starts a fight every time your girlfriend laughs at someone else's joke. You can adopt a more mature perspective, choose a more appropriate response and start taking responsibility for your emotions. 

You will most likely prevent any unacceptable behaviours with the right understandings. However, if your emotional response is too intense you will need to develop your awareness.

Awareness

When you feel jealousy beginning to stir, maintaining your awareness will prevent you from being sucked up into any jealous behaviours. Instead of getting caught up in imaginary scenarios, you stay with it and rationally analyse your situation. This is much easier said than done. Anyone who has experienced intense jealousy, or an intense emotional response, will understand the difficulties. 

If you're serious about getting rid of your jealous behaviours, fortunately developing your awareness is a skill that can be learned. Meditation is remarkably effective, but it won't always translate into more intimidating circumstances.

The best way is to simply practice holding your awareness whenever jealousy rears it's ugly head. You won't always come out on top, but over time you will learn to step back and develop a rational perspective. Including your partner will help quicken up the process. 

Communication

How to stop being Jealous

Finally, include your partner in your efforts. You're not going to read this article and suddenly be cured of any jealous behaviours. The chances are, you will fall victim to another emotional reaction.

Letting your partner know that you're working on it will not only weaken their reaction to your emotional reaction, but also help them understand that you're trying to work on it. By letting them in, they won't take your jealous behaviours as seriously, which will in turn help you realise you don't have to take them so seriously.

When your jealousy begins to overwhelm you, having someone their to confess the experience to, will also be an enormous help. Instead of setting up shop in the imagined scenario inside your head, you will be easily pulled back into reality. A relationship with this type of communication is priceless.

Conclusion

This is definitely not the be all and end all to conquering jealousy. Jealousy comes in many different forms and the strategies above may not suit all of them. There are many other strategies that people use, some more effective than others. 

A friend of mine overcame his jealousy by adopting the belief that as long as he continues to become a better person, he will naturally attract the right people into his life. And if his partner chooses to be unfaithful, that's her loss and he's sure someone more suitable to him will fill her place. 

A bit harsh in my opinion, but it works for him!

As long as it works for you, it doesn't matter how you conquer your jealousy. Just don't accept it as apart of your life and work to overcome it, that's what's important.