Jealous much? Here's how to control it.
First, the standard conditional statement when talking about jealousy: It’s normal. Everyone feels some level of jealousy at some point. However the intensity and frequency of an individual’s jealousy is
Men and women feel and react to jealousy differently. I am going to talk about female jealousy here.
There are two categories of strategies for dealing with your own jealousy: Internal and external. Internal strategies are ways to handle jealousy from within yourself. These are private methods for controlling your thoughts and gaining better perspective. External strategies are ways of allowing other people to help including the person you are jealous about.
People who have what they believe is a ‘problem’ with jealousy generally employ 80% external strategies and 20% internal strategies. The most important thing to learn about handling jealousy is that ratio needs to be reversed. Handling jealousy effectively needs to be 80% internal and 20% external. Correcting your ratio will be the focus on this piece.
Handling your feelings of jealousy and insecurity internally means using new perspectives and ways of thinking about what you are feeling. The most common negative thought pattern jealous people have is imagining the worst-case scenario too often. “He’s late so he must me cheating on me.” “His cell phone just rang, it must be another girl.”
This is a really self-destructive and emotionally draining pattern. You must learn to remind yourself that the worst-case scenario almost never the case. If you: 1. Imagine the worst-case scenario too often and 2. Express it to your partner too often then there is one certain outcome: Your partner will leave you because you are awful to be around. No one will tolerate that for long.
The way to change your thought patterns is to begin intentionally imagining the best case scenario every time. And I mean every time. Then if you still have to obsess over it, imagine a slightly less than best-case scenario. If you still want to let the worst-case scenario drift across your brain, fine, but make sure the best-case scenario is equally represented. If you do this every day for a month you will have made a genuine shift in your thought patterns.
How do you imagine the best case scenario? Here’s how: “He’s late. Maybe it’s because he’s talking to his mom on the phone and telling her how much he likes me.“ Slightly less than best-case scenario: “He’s late. Maybe he’s really tired from work and fell asleep on the couch for a while.“
Aren’t these awesome scenarios compared to “He’s cheating on me.”? Try these types of thoughts on for a month. You’ll be a healthier person for the rest of your life.
To make up the rest of your 80% internal effort, think about these points from time to time especially when you feel jealousy beginning to rear its ugly head:
1. Remember the base word of jealousy is Lousy. Remind yourself that jealousy always feels lousy and therefore it is to your advantage to control it.
2. The situation I feel jealous about is probably not as bad as I am imagining.
3. I have overreacted before and it has hurt my relationships and embarrassed me.
4. Even if I do find out there is something to be jealous about, an impulsive external reaction is always the wrong choice.
So spend 80% of your efforts with these kinds of thoughts.
Here are a couple helpful external tactics to spend 20% of your effort on:
Talk to a friend whom you believe has a legitimate handle on her feelings of jealousy. Ask her about her philosophy about jealousy. Ask how she processes her feelings of jealousy. Ask enough questions until you understand her perspective. Some women will say they simply do not experience feelings of jealousy. Remember this is not true. Everyone feels jealousy. We all just process it differently. Your goal is to dig deeper to better understand how she processes her feelings of jealousy. Don’t challenge her tough exterior. Just ask your questions differently until you find a path to her genuine feelings.
As a last resort, talk to your partner about specific jealous feelings you have. When I say ‘last resort’ I mean it. Do not do this every time you feel the slightest tinge of jealousy. Do it only if you have exhausted all of the above and you still feel there is something to legitimately feel jealous about. Remember, you don’t get to have too many of these conversations. If you keep doing it just to make yourself feel better, your partner will leave you. If you know for certain your partner is being dishonest with you then use your jealousy to find the strength to move on.