Overcoming Jealousy

There’s a lot of advice out there about overcoming jealousy and much of it focuses on self-analysis and understanding what’s at the root of your feelings of jealousy. If it were that simple, we could think jealousy away and we wouldn’t need the advice!

A popular idea is that jealousy comes from insecurity and/or the fear of rejection. I believe it’s also about feeling “safe”. When someone feels unsafe, a kind of survival instinct kicks in and they think of ways to neutralize whatever or whomever appears to be threatening their safety. Many try to control their external environment, and some control their internal environment by denying or avoiding the attachment altogether – creating a “nothing to lose” situation.

The first step to getting rid of your jealousy is to take responsibility for it: your jealousy is about you, not the other person.

The specific experiences that drive a person’s jealousy are unique, and their triggers are often inconsistent. At a conceptual level, though, there are only a few themes. In my experience, a common theme is avoiding pain, which is (to a degree) another way of feeling safe.

Jealousy can be a big problem because it’s self-reinforcing. Usually, there’s some painful feeling(s) that we’re avoiding, and whenever someone or something brings that pain closer to the surface, we will often go to great lengths to push it back down. Control brings relief, and the cycle continues.

The simple, but not easy, answer is to choose to experience the pain. And that’s where a therapist often comes in. (If you could easily do it on our own, you’d probably have done it long ago.) It’s sort of like Neo in The Matrix movies… letting go of old, limiting ideas and learning to fly and dodge bullets. Heh, maybe I should change my name to Morpheus!

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