Jealousy is such a tricky and deceptive emotion, that I think the major reason it is so difficult to overcome is that we don’t want to see it in ourselves and admit it. It mixes well with other feelings, such as anger, disappointment and fear, making it easier to either ignore or justify it.
I remember when I got jealous for the first time – I didn’t want to admit that I’m jealous (even though I’m usually very honest with myself), instead I told myself that I’m rightfully angry and suspicious, because my boyfriend did something wrong. He didn’t agree that what he did was wrong, which really surprised me, because for me it was an undeniable truth and I insisted that my opinion was right. (No, he didn’t cheat).
This made me think, however. I realized that my boyfriend has a different view on things and doesn’t get jealous in the situations, which would get me jealous. Then I remembered other examples of jealousy, sometimes extreme ones, from people I know – men who would not allow their wives to go out anywhere without them, even with their female friends for a girls’ night out or shopping. Women who would be suspicious of every phone call to their boyfriends and who would get almost hysterical if he talks to a girl on a corporate party. They all also thought that they’re right in their behavior and didn’t see any possible alternative to it.
So, given the same situation, different people will react differently – someone will get jealous if their partner is talking to a person of opposite sex, and someone else won’t. It follows then, that jealousy doesn’t depend on the situation outside, it depends on what’s going on in the person’s head.
Where was the fine line between reasonable, “normal” and “acceptable” jealousy and the ridiculous one? Somehow we all grew to believe that there is a difference, there is a fine line, there is a type of jealousy that is normal. Turns out that everyone has different opinion on where this line is, though.
Finally, I decided that unhealthy jealousy starts at the point, when you feel the need to somehow control and manipulate the other person to avoid being jealous of them. But with the effect it has on relationships and our general well-being, I think it’s safer to believe that any form of jealousy is dangerous and unhealthy.
So that’s how I came to the conclusion that jealousy:
a) hides itself behind other feelings
b) springs up from our belief systems and values
c) doesn’t depend on external stimuli as much as we want to believe
d) is unhealthy if it pushes us to control others
That was the first stepping stone in understanding how to deal with jealousy. Since it is caused by very strong and mostly subconscious core beliefs, they need to be realized and brought to the surface first and then thoroughly explored and challenged, if we want to stop being jealous. There is really no other way to do it and thinking that someone else has to change for us to stop being jealous is an illusion – it will never happen, and even if it happens – it won’t help.
If you want to know how to deal with jealousy, follow to my next post about 3 common beliefs that jealous people have, which automatically trigger them to painfully react to common situations and act unreasonably, as it may seem to others.