Jealousy is a form of self-sabotage. It rarely helps you get what you want. Jealousy usually is a sign that something is “off” in you. Not necessarily in others; but in you.
Sure, you may have reasons to be concerned about a friend, job or lover. But being concerned isn’t the same as being jealous.
Being concerned is a reality-based strategy. Concerned people communicate calmly and rationally about their concerns and work with others for mutual solutions. Jealous people are rarely calm or rational. Jealousy is usually irrational.
A former client of mine had a girlfriend, let’s call her “Sandra”. Sandra and my client had a great relationship, except for one little problem: Sandra was incredibly jealous and imagined her girlfriend was unfaithful, would leave her, wanted to sleep with other women, etc. When talking with Sandra, she realized that her jealousy was all too familiar. She told me, “I can see that my jealousy is driving my girlfriend crazy. If I keep this up, I’ll push her away. I am my own worst enemy.”
Bingo. Sandra was smart enough to see what she was doing. And she is not alone. Jealousy is a hot topic (seen any reality shows lately?) so let’s address it. Here are some ways to stop being your own worst energy:
Determine if there’s any basis for your jealousy. There’s a big difference between being neurotic and being naïve. If you have reason to not trust someone, that’s one thing. But if you have had this problem with other relationships, it is likely your problem, not the other person’s.
Acting out jealousy pushes the other person away. Imagine what it’s like to be continually mistrusted and questioned. It would drive anyone away, given enough time, frustration and invalidation. In fact, I’ve heard clients say, “If she thinks I’m having an affair, no matter what I tell her, why not just go have one then?” (This happened to two clients of mine – their partners got so fed up with their insane jealousy that they went out and proved them “right”).
Jealousy may be an indicator that your self-esteem is down the tubes, e.g., you can’t accept a great partner because you don’t think you deserve one.
Jealousy can also manifest in issues of control. What some people call “love” is actually “control”. Most people need to control because they’ve been in past situations where they had little or no control. So they overreact and want total control in the present. This makes other people crazy. Get to the source of your controlling behavior and take a good, hard look at it. You may want to talk with a therapist about your past, to stop acting out your out-of-control childhood in your adult relationships.
Are you so you desperate to be with someone that you cling on desperately? By doing this, you often create the very thing you fear. You expect your partner to leave you and, unless your behavior changes, they probably will.
Realize that jealous thoughts are not your friend. They whisper paranoid thoughts in your mind, encourage you to make crazy 2AM phone calls and send accusing Emails that you’re likely to regret the next day.
You can begin to control this kind of self-destructive behavior and stop being your own worst enemy. Take action to get a grip on your paranoid/jealous feelings, and when jealousy rears its self-destructive little head, develop a repertoire of skills to keep that nasty demon under control. If you find yourself saying, “Oh, I can’t do control my jealousy.” You’re lying to yourself. You can, but you may not want to.
No one enjoys being jealous, neurotic, controlling or smothering, and it may seem beyond your control. But it’s not. If jealousy is making you your own worst enemy, please use the above as a starting point to get to the root of your jealousy, and, if you need more help, get yourself to a good psychotherapist.
Don’t suffer; take action; get help.