Do you get crazy with jealousy? Are you embarrassed to admit your behaviors? Is your significant other constantly checking up on you and putting you through a weekly interrogation?
Take a breath. We all have our demons to slay. Jealousy is a primitive and common emotion that, if not explored with mindfulness, can wreak havoc in your world, but it doesn’t have to.
Jealousy can also be a profound teacher. I have found it beneficial to treat this emotion with tenderness and curiosity. Romantic jealousy has a different texture than situational jealousy (IE: coveting your neighbor’s new Tesla or your friend’s MFA in creative writing.) People who experience romantic jealousy often had unreliable caregivers during early childhood. This form of jealousy stems from core wounds such as “I’m not good enough” or “I am afraid you are going to leave me.”
Usually jealousy is connected to other emotions such as anger, fear, humiliation, and insecurity. Relationship insecurity leads to an ugly downward spiral. Symptoms of insecurity are possessiveness, anxiety, incessant suspicion, intimidation and control tactics. Suspicious and insecure people will dig for dirt. They’ll check your text messages, browser history and silently stalk you on Facebook. In worst cases, untethered jealousy leads to stalking and violence.
6 Steps to Successfully Navigate Jealously
1. Sit with your feelings and feel them fully but don’t wallow. Realize that you are not your emotions. You are feeling insecure and jealous. You are not insecure and jealous. The mind likes to make up stories. It runs on assumptions and creates scenarios that are often far from the truth. You do not have to react to the way you feel. You have a choice to consciously respond instead of retaliating in anger. Unfortunately, literature has romanticized the desperate intensity and zealous infatuation of obsessive love and jealousy. Don’t let pop culture fool you. There is a whopping difference between real love and fixation and obsession. True love gives you room to breathe and grow and change. It doesn’t seek to possess or control.
2. Pause and turn the focus from outward to inward. Become an observer of your thoughts and not their slave. Learn to doubt your thoughts. Find a practice of mindfulness, even if it’s simply breathing deeply. Have a few tools for self-soothing in your back pocket that don’t include intoxicants. Two of my favorites are the Emotional Freedom Technique and the Six Healing Sounds, a Taoist practice to remove negative emotions from the body.
Give me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
3. Make jealousy your teacher. Examine it through journaling and reflect on the roots of your jealousy in a sitting or walking meditation. Don’t allow your mind to run on autopilot and loop repetitive negative thoughts.
4. Communicate your fears and concerns with your partner. If you are still stuck or triggered, talk first with a mentor, counselor or good friend. Communicate with kindness and avoid making accusations or placing blame. Be transparent. Use “I” statements. Try counting to ten before you open your mouth in anger. Regardless of which end of the stick you’re on, agree to listen to one another with a compassionate and open heart. Talk openly about your insecurities and ask for reassurance. Reassurance builds trust. Trust builds intimacy. Intimacy is the cure.
5. Ask yourself questions and journal for answers. Are my behaviors truly loving or obsessive? Is my jealousy unfounded? How can I get back on track? What are the lessons in this? What do I need to feel safe and secure? What can I do to build my self-confidence? Am I with a trustable partner? Am I in a relationship built on love, trust and respect? Does my lifestyle and my relationship model (IE: open, monogamous, polyamorous) match my needs or exacerbate my fears and insecurities?
6. Let go of habits and patterns that no longer serve you. If jealousy continues to rear its ugly head seek professional help or take a break from the relationship. Know what events and situations trigger your jealousy and how to counteract them. Be good to yourself and committed to change. Come back to the present moment. Remind yourself; I am not what I am feeling right now. This too shall pass.