Jealousy is a beast of a thing. It makes you hate the situation you’re in, the people involved, and yourself. It’s a storm of anger, fear, and self-loathing. And the more you focus on it in an effort to control it, the more out of control it gets. But what I’ve come to recognize is that there is no way to make it just go away forever. Because the desire to be connected comes with the need to be significant and secure–and the more security I seek and get, often the less secure I am. And the less I like myself. It’s a horrible, messed-up mind fuck. So here are some general coping mechanisms for jealousy that we all can use for times when we can’t control it.
- Allow yourself to feel jealous – Yup, you read that correct. Give yourself time to really feel whatever you’re feeling, without acting on it. When feelings of jealousy arise, excuse yourself to a quiet room or a peaceful setting outdoors.
- Examine your thoughts – Examine what you hope to gain from your jealousy. Ask yourself “What is my jealousy attempting to accomplish?” After you identify what you hope to gain from your jealousy, take a moment to recognize what that tells you about yourself.
- Identify and challenge the inner critic – When you feel jealous, you may find that the inner critic inside your head becomes particularly active. Remind yourself that just because you can imagine a horrible scenario doesn’t mean it’s actually true. Be recognizing and talking back to this voice, you can start to reprogram your mental state towards more positive perceptions.
- Communicate directly – Share jealous thoughts openly and honestly with the relevant party, a trusted friend, or a therapist. Rather than getting upset or making accusations, frame it as something you’d like some help working through.
- Practice self care – Take a bubble bath, write down a list of your positive traits, practice meditation or yoga, go for a long walk in the park, or do anything else that helps you feel good.
- Consider therapy – If jealousy regularly impacts your health and relationships it may be time to seek professional assistance. A therapist can help you process the past experiences that may underlie your jealousy, help you better understand your attachment style, and provide you with additional tools to feel more secure in close relationships.
The real pain, the real losses that happen in this life, come to us unbidden and unexpected. There are so many things we can’t avoid or foresee–but we can keep from inflicting this form of self-torture under the false belief that its self-flagellating properties are protective in nature or make us smarter or safer or wiser. They don’t.