A few months ago, we got a request from one of our readers to delve into the topic of jealousy: “I have never seen a goop on the issue of jealousy, but I think advice on how to combat this pervasive emotion would be very relevant.” We asked Monica Berg to take on the topic.
On Jealousy in Relationships
Let’s face it, although it’s not our intention, sometimes we are most jealous of those we love… but if we realized what is at stake, we would make a conscious effort to shy away from this negative feeling. At some point in our lives we all feel jealous or envious towards other people, but it is when we start acting on those jealous feelings that it becomes unhealthy and potentially dangerous.
“Since the dawn of time, jealousy has been as prevalent an emotion as love.”
Since the dawn of time, jealousy has been as prevalent an emotion as love. It is a central and common theme in many films, fiction (Shakespeare called it the green-eyed monster), and other art forms throughout history. Biblically, jealousy is a common narrative, too. Think about Cain and Abel, the two sons of Adam. Cain killed his younger brother in a jealous rage. Perhaps not quite as romantic to talk about or express if you possess it, but it is inevitably something we all feel—to some degree—but prefer to keep silent about. When we become consumed with the pervading idea that we lack things, we slowly become blind to what we already have, and we become ungrateful for those gifts.
“When we become consumed with the pervading idea that we lack things, we slowly become blind to what we already have, and we become ungrateful for those gifts.”
Let’s stop to define jealousy, which is either resentment of someone enjoying success or advantage, or is the fear of losing something you feel is yours (rightly or wrongly) to someone else—your spouse, your best friend, etc. Ralph Hupka, Professor of Psychology at California State University says that, “Jealousy is an anticipatory emotion. It seeks to prevent loss.”
“Maybe he’ll fall in love with his bubbly receptionist and leave me,” “She’s going to lunch with her ex-boyfriend, obviously she’s still attracted to him,” “He’ll come home and tell me he wants a divorce,” “Obviously she’ll get the promotion! She is such a brown noser…” Whatever movie we have created in our heads, we will always find people or situations to support our story. What is the story you tell yourself? Do you believe that you are unlovable and soon your partner will find you out? What is at the core of your jealous feelings?
“Nothing can ruin a relationship faster than jealousy.”
No one wants a jealous partner, sibling, colleague, or friend—and nobody enjoys feeling jealous or living out his or her jealousy with bizarre and hurtful behavior. Nothing can ruin a relationship faster than jealousy. The ever-pressing question is: How can we overcome it?
Solution 1: COMMUNICATION. Be emotionally intelligent with yourself first and those that are important to you, because no one can read your mind. If you are feeling jealous, be open with yourself about your intentions. Do you feel more deserving to be in that new position at work? Do you have cause to think your partner is cheating? Have you been cheated on before? Very often we are unaware of what is going on subconsciously. It is up to you to find the root of your insecurity and then address it. Don’t hide what it is—it doesn’t have to be a deep secret that you carry.
Solution 2: TRUST. Jealousy comes out of a lack of trust; lack of trust in the process of life, in your partner, in yourself. Lack of trust breeds insecurity, which creates jealousy; we stifle these feelings because they are uncomfortable. It’s a vicious circle, and as long as our thoughts and energy are clearly focused on what we could lose, that is exactly what will happen. This is the cold hard truth about jealousy: It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.
“It’s a vicious circle, and as long as our thoughts and energy are clearly focused on what we could lose, that is exactly what will happen.”
Solution 3: TAKE ACTION. It is paramount that we prevent ourselves from fixating on what we don’t have and rather shift our perspective to the fact that our desires can and are revealing themselves through our daily actions. The big question and hard truth is, “How are we spending our days?” What we desire should be a source of inspiration, which provides us with the power, motivation, and ability to work toward and manifest (no matter how big or small).
If the green-eyed monster shows his face, remember that jealousy can be an extraordinarily powerful tool if we use it to propel ourselves to get what we most desire. Instead of being afflicted with envy, rather use this powerful energy of envy to help you work towards what will actually bring you more of what you desire and less of what you feel you lack.
“Emotions are simply something we experience, but we do not have to become them.”
Emotions are simply something we experience, but we do not have to become them. See the jealousy you feel as a signal that something in you warrants your awareness, bring it to your consciousness and use it to bring about positive change; be it in your relationships with yourself or those you hold dearest to you.
—Monica Berg is a spiritual teacher, writer and guide who specializes in assisting people as they identify and overcome life’s challenges so they can reach their greatest potential. Monica is one of the founders of Raising Malawi, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping orphans and challenged youth throughout Malawi.