Best ways to deal with jealousy
Dr Jozelle Miller
July 21, 2020

Best ways to deal with jealousy

Psychologists have defined Jealousy is a complex emotion that encompasses feelings ranging from suspicion to rage to fear to humiliation. It strikes people of all ages, genders, and sexual orientations, and is most typically aroused when a person perceives a threat to a valued relationship from a third party. The threat may be real or imagined. It is often believed that jealousy only occurs in the context of an intimate romantic relationship but it can easily be seen in any type of human relationship- from siblings competing for the attention of their parents; to students forging to be the top of the class; to coworkers trying to impress a respected boss.

It is very important to recognize feelings of jealousy and to know why you are feeling jealous in the first place.

Research has identified many root causes of extreme jealousy, including low self-esteem, high neuroticism, and feeling possessive of others, particularly romantic partners. Fear of abandonment is also a key motivator.

Of all the emotions humans show, jealousy is one of the most common and unsettling. It tends to bring out the worst in us, even though most of us know better. It’s an age-old problem, having been recorded since biblical times. Long-surviving tales of jealousy includes the story of Cain and Abel, where Cain killed Abel in a jealous rage, when Abel’s sacrificial offering was seen to be more favorable. Then there is David, the second king of Israel, who until he triumphed against the Philistines and the legendary Goliath, was well liked by King Saul. But following substantial successes in battle, Saul forced him out of the country, due to his jealousy; when David was praised to be more of a hero than Saul.

So the big question is, if jealousy impacts humans negatively, why do we continue to behave this way? Cultural psychologists tend to believe that humans are inherently jealous, simply because our jobs, relationships and material goods mean a lot to us, and we don’t want to lose them.

A popular misconception about jealousy is that it is the same as envy. In fact, the feeling of envy refers to wanting something that someone else has, such as a car or a house or millions in the bank. Jealousy, on the other hand, is more aptly described as the fear of losing something (a lover, promotion, friend, etc.) to someone else. “Jealousy is an anticipatory emotion. “It seeks to prevent loss,” said Ralph Hupka, Professor of Psychology, Emeritus at California State University. Jealousy causes us to take precautionary measures, but should those measures fail, the new situation arouses anger, depression, disappointment, etc.

The following are tips to help you deal with jealousy:

1. Consider what’s being stirred up – The acronym is used to describe how we can sift through the Sensations, Images, Feelings and Thoughts that come up when we reflect on certain issues in our lives. We should try to SIFT when we feel jealous. We can consider what sensations, images, feelings and thoughts our jealous emotions bring up. Does the current scenario trigger something old – a family dynamic or long-held, negative self-perception? The more we can connect these emotions or overreactions to the past events that created them in the first place, the clearer we can feel in our present-day situation.

2. Calm down and stay vulnerable – No matter how jealous we feel, we can find ways to come back to our usual selves. We can do this by first, accepting our emotions with compassion. Remember that no matter how strong we feel, our feelings tend to pass in waves, first building, and then subsiding. It’s possible to accept and acknowledge our jealousy without acting on it. We can learn tools to calm ourselves down before reacting, for example, by taking a walk or a series of deep breaths. It’s a lot easier to calm down in this way when we refuse to tolerate or indulge in the angry words of our inner critic. In doing this, we can stand up for ourselves and the people we care for and remain vulnerable and open in how we relate.

3. Don’t act out – Our critical inner voice tends to advise us to take actions that can hurt us in the long run. Once it spirals us into a state of jealousy, it may tell us to give up or stop going after what we want. It may lead us to self-sabotage, blow up at or punish someone we respect. If we’re in a relationship, it may tell us to lash out at our partner. When we do this, all we do is create the dynamic of what we are afraid of. We may hurt and undermine our partners’ loving feelings for us and stir up our own feelings of distrust and fear. We may inadvertently encourage our partners to become more closed off, less open about their feelings, thoughts and actions, which then adds to our feelings of distrust and jealousy.