Suzanne was at her wits end. When she and Jordan first met, it felt as if they had known each other forever. They clicked instantly and quickly fell into a sizzling relationship. She loved the attention, the passion, and the togetherness. She felt cherished as never before.
Almost as quickly, little cracks began appearing in their utopia. At first, it was little things. Suzanne was an outgoing, friendly woman by nature, something Jordan had seemed to like. He had even teased her gently about never meeting a stranger. Now his teasing was becoming increasingly sharp and mean. Casual conversations in public, with colleagues, or even an older male neighbor resulted in accusatory confrontations. When she failed to answer his text messages during a job interview, he accused her of deliberately slighting him. Her desire to spend time with friends or family, even if only occasionally, got two wildly disparate responses: either “I worry that something might happen to you” to make it seem to both of them as if it was about caring for her or “I know you are lying and meeting someone else.”
The noose continued to tighten. Things finally reached Suzanne’s limit when she and her teenage daughter attended a concert together for a band Suzanne had enjoyed when she was a teen. The fun night of sharing a blast from her past with her daughter was marred by a single casual comment. “The guitarist looks just as cute today as he did 20 years ago.”
That was all it took to send Jordan off into a tailspin of accusation – That sounded like the comment of a woman who would cheat. She must be looking around. He would never trust her again.
Suzanne was stunned.
There Is Only Love or Fear
...and Jordan’s jealousy is all about fear. Fear of losing Suzanne. Fear he isn’t worthy of her. Fear he isn’t the center, the totality, of her universe.
This is a true story with the names and a few details changed for anonymity. Have you know someone like Suzanne or perhaps been in a similar situation yourself? Then it’s time to get to the bottom of what jealousy is really about. Trust me – it isn’t about love.
What Is Jealousy
Free Online Dictionary defines jealousy as: “Fearful or wary of being supplanted; apprehensive of losing affection or position. Resentful or bitter in rivalry; envious: jealous of the success of others. Inclined to suspect rivalry.”
Fear. Suspicion. Resentment. Bitterness. Envy. No good outcome can be built on these words.
Let’s look at this from the perspective of the jealous person, keeping in mind that we have all felt jealousy at some point. Let’s acknowledge that fear of any kind makes us feel insecure and the knee-jerk temptation is to act on that fear and insecurity. Let’s agree that jealousy is not limited to romantic relationships. Let’s take a deep breath and dive in...
Jealousy Is Not Limited to Romantic Relationships
Have you ever envied someone’s business or financial success? Been jealous of their toys? Have you resented the perceived ease of that success? Have you grumpily dismissed their success as a fluke? Have you justified your own excuses for not matching or exceeding that success?
Have you resented how effortlessly some people get into shape and stay fit?
Do you envy people who never seem to encounter conflict?
Does it bother you that some people make and keep friends easily? That “everyone” likes them?
Jealousy is nothing more than a misguided approach to protecting your fragile ego. It doesn’t really matter what type of relationship – lover, family, friend, colleague – and the specific circumstances are irrelevant. It’s always your ego crying out for love like an anxious little child. That’s the fundamental truth of insecurity. Jealousy is fear.
8 Ways to Overcome Jealousy When It Appears:
1. Love Yourself
All emotions fall into one of two categories – love or fear. Anything that isn’t a form of love is fear. Love nurtures, encourages, and magnifies. If what you are feeling doesn’t fit that profile it is fear.
All genuine love starts with self-love. If you are devoid of self-love, you are just a vampire sucking it out of someone else in a misguided attempt to make yourself feel better. Learning to accept yourself exactly as you are, warts and all, is the first step to being able to love another. People who feel comfortable and secure – or are focused on learning to feel comfortable and secure - rarely let jealousy get in the way, even though they may occasionally feel a twinge.
We never know exactly why another person loves us and that is just as well. Instead of trying to pattern ourselves after what we think others love in us, we are free to become what we love best in ourselves, and by doing so, call in someone who loves that in us.
2. Step Back
As you learn to love and accept yourself, you will become secure enough to step back and look at jealousy rationally, realizing that it is “just” fear rearing its ugly little head. That gives you the ability to look at the fear and see whether it is real or imagined. Often, it is imagined. Stop believing everything you imagine is real. Sometimes, it’s just a miscommunication. That pause, that step away from the fray, allows you to take a better look and get off the autopilot response.
Things are almost always worse in our imagination. Your Beloved may not be doing one single thing to warrant being treated this way, but you will drive him/her away nevertheless with your fear and jealousy. They will feel suffocated and either escape or die emotionally.
3. Break the Habit
Jealousy is a habit, a learned response that rarely helps you. A little of it occasionally can be a good kickstarter, helping us get moving in life and serving as a barometer for what is possible. A lot will paralyze us and destroy our relationships and goals.
Is anything really threatening you? Why are you feeling insecure? What are you afraid of losing? Getting to the root cause is the first step in forming a better habit. The feeling is real even if the cause is imaginary, so dealing with the cause is the best way to relieve the feeling.
Instead of telling yourself you are “wrong” to feel it, search out the underlying “why” and face it. We can get so caught up in the negative feeling we can completely lose sight of the bigger picture. You may even consciously realize that your Beloved is trustworthy, but old fears from past relationships are intruding. Hear this - Your Beloved can never live small enough to counter the old fears you are carrying. It’s your job to tackle them.
Trust in an act of faith. Give your Beloved (or whoever the other person might be) the space in which to just be themselves, warts and all. Trust them to behave honorably. Engage in conversation (not confrontation) when it looks as if they have acted less than honorably.
Trusting someone builds their self-esteem and their desire to be trustworthy. That brings a bonus effect for you - the better they feel about themselves, the more they are able and willing to love you. You become the magnet they want to come home to because they trust you to act in their best interest.
What if you offer trust and receive deceitfulness in return? What if your Beloved really is lying and cheating? Then why would you want to be in a relationship with them? Calmly state your concerns and give them space to make better choices. If after giving them a few chances they still choose to act badly, move on. What’s the most awful thing that could happen to you? Embarrassed? Alone and starting over? Is that really worse than being with someone you must keep prisoner? If you are really more afraid of being embarrassed for a bit or starting over, what does that say about you? Would you really rather be with the wrong person than be alone? Hmmmmm.....
5. Stop Comparing
Nithyananda said, “Comparison is the seed and jealousy is the fruit.” Comparison focuses on what “they” have that you “don’t.” It’s competition run amuck. Whether in relationships or business, collaboration beats competition hands down.
When we learn to pool our resources, we create strong, multifunctional, and multifaceted relationships that can withstand life’s ups and downs. Celebrating the differences, seeing them as assets to the union and essential parts of the whole, is a key element. Focusing on the differences as dividers causes us to miss out on the true magnificent nature of the qualities and benefits.
6. Find the Real Source of Your Fear
Jealousy may come from your own low self-esteem. It can also come from fear of loss or a false sense of ownership, treating people as property. It may be a need to be the center of attention and not share. Maybe you were spoiled as a child. Maybe you were deprived as a child. You may have been betrayed or suffered a great loss. What these things all have in common is that they are rooted in the past. None of them has anything at all to do with your Beloved. None of them is a reason to mistrust your Beloved. Every single one is spilling out of you.
In most cases, jealousy says more about your feelings regarding yourself than about the behavior of your Beloved. The key is learning to manage your own feelings, not in managing your Beloved’s imagined behaviors
7. Avoid Games
People do goofy things when they are hurting. Doesn’t matter if the hurt is real or imagined. Never, never, never try to “help” your partner understand how you feel by trying to make them jealous in return. Games have no place in a happy healthy relationship, and trying to make your Beloved jealous for any reason is a game.
8. Don’t Blow Up
Yelling, throwing a tantrum, starting a fight – all of those barriers to finding a solution. Keep your cool even if your Beloved loses his/hers.
Anne Wade is Teacher, Writer, Mentor, and Coach for courageous women in midlife and beyond who want to disrupt their own status quo and design life on their own terms, even in turbulent times. She has developed the Becoming Found process of going within to find and address the inner barriers we have all inadvertently built up against love, happiness, health, wealth and any other desires of our hearts. Teaching women to unapologetically shine like a superstar and live their legacy is Anne’s mission.
You can follow her on her Facebook page “Anne Wade – Becoming found” or join her “Becoming Found” Facebook group.