Jealousy, what is it? And can it be overcome? Jealousy – we all know the feeling. For some people, it is a lousy feeling that comes with a sense of mild annoyance, anger, sadness, resentment, and fear. And then there are the close cousins of these like: betrayal, blame, distrust, hurt, and devastation. For others, if left unchecked, it leads to hostile resentment, interpersonal violence, physical violence, and sexual coercion. Especially when alcohol or problematic drinking is involved.
What is jealousy?
Jealousy is a fear of losing something that we already have; whether it’s a partner, a degree of closeness, or another important aspect of our relationship. It’s the feeling of insecurity and anxiety that comes with the risk that something special could be taken away from us by someone or something else.
For those of you who know me, I like to make neuroscience easy. When we first get one of the emotions that come with jealousy, like anger, sadness, or fear, then we start to think about these emotions. This is when we start calling it jealousy. So jealousy is not an emotion, it is a thought.
It isn’t just about romantic relationships. It is also something that can be inside the parent-child relationship, between siblings, friends, etc. I train a lot of women for instance, in their empty-nest feelings, actually develop jealousy of their child who is starting to be more involved in new romantic interests, and friends, in addition to school, sports, and hobbies.
Jealousy is not envy
I used to mix up the word jealousy when I actually meant envy. In the Dutch language (my native tongue) I do exactly the same as in English. It is amusing that I notice many other people also mix up the two. Envy is very different. It happens in a situation where we want something another person has. I usually feel it when I lack something that someone else has. It is actually a big reason why I stopped watching coaches, personal development trainers, and motivational speakers who embellish their success on Social Media. This is especially true on Instagram, where people are willing to tell half-truths or downright lies to sell you their service or product so you can achieve the same success. To hold what people present us as truths, and then feel the emotions that come with envy is probably a good reason why we should avoid social media altogether.
10 techniques to beat jealousy?
Working on self-image and self-esteem
People are more prone to jealousy when they have a poor self-image and low self-esteem. Focusing on topics like self-image, self-esteem, self-actualization, self-compassion, and self-regard.
Positive psychology technique:
Write the story of your life from the perspective of a hero, rather than a victim.
Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) technique:
From an NLP perspective, NLP Master Practitioner tools and design skills are required to create a proper custom intervention. I think a simplistic way to start cultivating self-image and self-esteem is to imagine a person who deeply loves you and thinks the world of you. What does this person look like? Sound like? Make the hologram of this person as real as possible. Float your awareness into this person’s shoes, and look at yourself and your whole life from this perspective. From a place of love, acceptance, compassion, forgiveness, etc.
Confronting your fears
Fear is often the underlying reason for jealousy. You could confront or lean into these fears.
A technique from cognitive behavioral therapy and NLP:
Look at the situation where you experience jealousy from a different perspective. Ask yourself: What else could this mean that is a more positive explanation?
A technique from the world of NLP:
Float your awareness out of your body and out of this you who has fear, and see yourself on a movie screen. Do this from a place of non-emotion. Dim the colors of the screen, while moving the image further into the distance and making it smaller.
Accuracy in reality testing and setting correct expectations
Relationships don’t run themselves. This means you may have to adjust your expectations to make them more realistic. If someone isn’t able to meet your needs, don’t go pointing fingers. Instead, make an effort to work together and reset some more reasonable expectations so everyone wins.
Technique from the world of psychology:
One tool that can help with this is setting boundaries and communicating them effectively. Having a conscious awareness of what you expect from each other, such as how much time you can spend together or how often you need communication, is essential to avoid misunderstandings and disappointment. Additionally, having regular check-ins to ensure you are both on the same page can help keep expectations in check.
A technique combining the definition of “reality testing” from the world of Emotional Intelligence science with NLP:
Float your awareness out of your body, and observe yourself and the other person. What is it that you know to be factually true from a place of non-emotion? What specifically is the difference between the fantasy of what you think is going on, versus what is actually going on?
Practicing gratitude & hunting the good stuff
Rather than looking through a lens of reality, train your brain to focus on gratitude and the good things that you do have. Gratitude and noticing what is positive are learned behaviors! And behaviors you can cultivate over time.
A technique from the world of positive psychology:
Before bedtime, write down 3 things you are grateful for, and why.
An NLP technique:
The same technique as above but augmented using NLP. Float your awareness into the you who feels grateful in the specific context of your gratitude journal. Imagine living or re-living the moment of gratitude, as seen through your own eyes. You see what you would see, hear what you would hear, and feel what you would feel. Ask yourself the question: what specifically am I grateful for?
Loving-kindness meditation (LKM or Metta) is the practice of cultivating feelings of acceptance, understanding, and compassion towards ourselves and others. It involves taking time to pause, reflect, and consciously direct our thoughts, words, and actions in a way that fosters love and kindness.
This meditation technique has scientifically been proven to change the brain, and cultivate loving-kindness.
Love & Kindness Meditation technique
Enhance the LKM using NLP
Enhance or augment the intensity of the visual qualities, the sound, and the emotions. Make it larger, brighter, and more surround sound. Locate the feeling inside your body and make it bigger.
Mental illness and problematic alcohol use
After training over 2.5K people in NLP, a topic that comes up with regularity is extremely jealous partners. Making the right decisions in approaching this issue requires you to not look at your jealous partner from a space of jealousy, but instead by asking yourself the question if there isn’t more at play that you should want to resolve instead.
Mental health issues can be underlying jealousy such as anxiety disorders, attachment issues, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and trauma.
There is a direct correlation between problematic jealousy and the use of alcohol.
Jealousy should never be an excuse for assault, abuse, or sexual coercion.
Please note I earn a small affiliate commission when you click on the link below and purchase the books below. This is at no extra cost to you.
Insecure in Love: How Anxious Attachment Can Make You Feel Jealous, Needy & Worried & What You Can Do About It – Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD