Liberate Yourself from Jealousy… Here’s How

Let’s look at what is going on when you are jealous and how you can handle it.

Jealousy is angry agitated worry.

When we are jealous we worry that our partner might find someone else more appealing and we fear that he or she will reject us. Since we feel threatened that our partner might find someone more attractive, we may activate jealousy as a way to cope with this threat. We may believe that our jealousy may keep us from being surprised, help us defend our rights, and force our partner to give up interests elsewhere. Similar to worry, jealousy may be a “strategy” that we use so that we can figure out what is going wrong or learn what our partner “really feels”. We may also think that our jealousy can motivate us to give up on the relationship—so that we don’t get hurt any more. If you are feeling jealous, it’s important to ask yourself what you hope to gain by your jealousy. We view jealousy as a coping strategy.

Similar to other forms of worry, jealousy leads us to focus only on the negative. We interpret our partner’s behavior as reflecting a loss of interest in us or a growing interest in someone else: “He finds her attractive” or “He is yawning because I am boring”. Like other forms of worry, jealousy leads us to take things personally and to mind-read negative emotions in other people: “She’s getting dressed up to attract other guys”.

Jealousy can be an adaptive emotion.

People have different reasons—in different cultures—for being jealous. But jealousy is a universal emotion. Evolutionary psychologist David Buss in The Dangerous Passion makes a good case that jealousy has evolved as a mechanism to defend our interests. After all, our ancestors who drove off competitors were more likely to have their genes survive. Indeed, intruding males (whether among lions or humans) have been known to kill off the infants or children of the displaced male. Jealousy was a way in which vital interests could be defended.

We believe that it is important to normalize jealousy as an emotion. Telling people that “You must be neurotic if you are jealous” or “You must have low self-esteem” will not work. In fact, jealousy—in some cases—may reflect high self-esteem: “I won’t allow myself to be treated this way”.

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Liberate Yourself from Jealousy… Here’s How

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