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How to Break the Hold of Jealousy

Our society witnesses episodes of jealousy in every walk of life. Siblings vie for the love and attention of their parents, and become jealous of their brothers and sisters who they feel may be stealing affections that are rightly theirs. Workers are jealous of colleagues who receive rewards and recognition, while they themselves experience a loss of self worth at failed attempts to gain promotion and move forward. Couples seeking the approval and acceptance of ‘higher society’ become jealous of their neighbours who are easily admitted into all the ‘right’ places. Such couples end up feeling humiliated and embarrassed by their so called loss of prestige.

The most common jealousy is that found in romantic relationships, and it is this jealousy that we will explore in this blog article.

Jealousy is often referred to as the “Green Eyed Monster”. And rightly so. I am not too sure about the ‘green eyes’ but a monster it is! Anyone who has experienced the wrenching fear of loss, the anxiety laden debilitating thoughts, and the irrepressible bursts of anger, can easily justify this claim. You yourself know how horrible you feel as you lose your sense of self, and transform into a self doubting, accusing, hostile and belligerent individual.

According to a number of definitions jealousy can be described as “an emotion that is linked to the fear and anxiety of losing something that has value to the individual. Such feelings emerge due to the individual’s insecurity and failure to trust.”

The secret to the success of any relationship is the ability of both partners to trust each other. In a relationship you need to feel safe with your partner and know that when you share yourself emotionally, sexually and physically you will be treated with love and respect. You need to believe that your partner would never do anything to deliberately hurt you or to jeopardise your relationship. You need to have confidence in the strength of your relationship to deal with issues as they emerge.

It is when you begin to feel insecure in yourself and in your relationship that trust is weakened and the door is opened for fear and anxiety to walk in. This anxiety usually is linked to a thought pattern something like: “My partner does not like me and that means I am worthless. She/He will find someone else. I will lose them and be left alone. And this is too much to cope with.” Once these thoughts take hold jealousy can easily take control, and you are now subject to emotional swings, encountering a range of feelings such as fear, suspicion, sadness, anger and rage.

Jealousy is a powerful emotion. It can crumple any feelings of positive self esteem and can badly bruise one’s ego. But at no time is it an excuse for inappropriate and disrespectful behaviours.

If you experience the negative effects of jealousy you are not stuck as you can learn how to bypass this emotion and remove it from your repertoire of feelings.

If you look at this formula: INSECURITY >>EVENT>>IRRATIONAL THOUGHT>>JEALOUSY  you can see how jealousy is born. If you can make any changes to the above pattern then you have a good chance of breaking the hold jealousy has on you. Let’s look at some steps you can take to break the above links.

Tips on How to Break the Hold Jealousy Has on Your Relationship

Know Yourself

How would you describe yourself? Do you consider yourself to be a relatively confident individual, or do you hold yourself in low regard? Are you generally a trusting person, or do you have difficulty relaxing into relationships because of suspicions? Are you thoughtful and caring, or thoughtless and abrupt?

The answers to these questions will give you some insights into how resilient you may be to avoiding the green eyed monster. If you enter a relationship insecure in your self and what you have to offer your partner, you may over time become suspicious of their feelings towards you. Knowing your vulnerabilities may encourage you to be proactive and take steps to become less insecure in your self and more trusting in your relationship.

When Jealousy is Ready to Pounce- Check the Facts

Before allowing yourself to fall into the depths of anxiety at the fear of losing your partner, and before exploding at them in an accusing fit of rage or anger- check the facts. As jealousy approaches your rational mind is often replaced by a totally irrational one. One that sees the act of your partner going to the shops to buy a paper being blown out of proportion, to the point where you see your partner as actually meeting their lover.

To stop this from happening let your rational mind think logically of what your partner is doing, and ask any questions you need to reassure yourself – just make sure you ask clarifying questions and not interrogating ones. You just want to verify the facts so as to bring reason back into focus. Sometimes this will be enough to hold back the jealousy. At other times more strategies may be required.

Jealousy is your Problem, your Partner’s Problem and the Relationship’s Problem

Always remember that jealousy spreads its wings over a wide area. It effects you, your partner and your relationship. You may be the one suffering the fears, anxieties and bouts of anger, but it is your partner who is at the receiving end of these emotions, and the one who is constantly trying to reassure you, while at the same time fending off your suspicions and accusations.

And it is your relationship that suffers in silence watching both partners slowly grow apart.

Identify your Present Jealousy Triggers and Responses

As you get to know yourself you will be able to determine what events trigger your jealousy, and the different ways you respond to these events. One person’s jealousy may be alighted by their partner staying out late at a friend’s house. Their response may be to yell at their partner when they arrive at home. Someone else may feel threatened and insecure when their partner goes out drinking with their friends, and may use the silent treatment when their partner returns.

The more you know about your triggers the better able you are to discover strategies that may eliminate them altogether or minimise their impact, and thereby reduce your jealous behaviours. These strategies may not directly address the ‘why’ of your jealousy, but they may help reduce the number of episodes of jealousy, and so lessen relationship tension.

For example, if jealousy is aroused by one partner spending a lot of time txt messaging an ex lover and then denying it, the issue can be tabled for discussion. Both partners are then able to express their views in a calm manner. Using a problem solving process they can brainstorm different ways to resolve their concerns, and eventually they are able to come up with a resolution that suits them both. In this case it may be that honesty rules and that both partners inform each other of any contact they have either by txt messaging or face to face with their exes.

Once the trigger is removed the bouts of jealousy may begin to lessen until they are no more. But jealousy itself may not be gone and may just be lying low ready to pounce again.

Change the Thoughts that Create the Jealousy

Jealousy does not just pop into your relationship due to some fluke. Jealousy is created by you and your thoughts. Your relationship may be cruising along nicely when you suddenly notice that your partner is spending a few seconds more than normal talking to an opposite sex friend. Alarm bells begin to ring and you are introduced to the first pangs of jealousy. Thoughts suddenly emerge out of nowhere making you feel insecure and threatened by the possible loss of your partner. You get angry at the prospect of them leaving you, and you begin accusing them of all sorts of behaviours.

Jealousy has got you! What can you do?

If you created jealousy by your thoughts then you can ‘uncreate’ it by changing your thoughts. You can start by clearly identifying the beliefs that spring into your mind and trigger the anxiety, sadness and anger that define jealousy. Some of these thoughts could be: “ She thinks he is better than me and so will leave me.” “I am not good enough for him. How can I ever hold unto him?” “He wants to go partying so that he can find another partner.” “I just know that she is being unfaithful because I’m a lousy partner.”

Generally all these thoughts do reflect a common theme of poor self esteem, low confidence and feeling like a ‘loser’. Sometimes you respond to these thoughts by seeking reassurance from your partner that all is well and that these thoughts aren’t true. At other times anger gets the better of you, and you become offensive in attempts to discredit your partner and therefore discredit the thoughts you have. You point the finger at your partner’s alleged inappropriate behaviours and hurl accusations at them. The objective is to once again feel better about yourself.

Once you recognise those thoughts that stream through your mind prior to your bursts of jealousy, you can take steps to change them into more empowering and helpful ones: ones that will enable you to cope and survive jealousy.

And this is where the work really begins. Thoughts of low confidence and poor self esteem, lack of worth and rejection are subjected to an intense scrutiny in which they are eventually discredited and proved to be irrational and dysfunctional.

A space has now been created and a new belief can emerge – one that is more positive and enables you to avoid feelings of jealousy. Thoughts of low worth are now thoughts of self acceptance and emphasise your ability to cope with whatever situation is thrust into your relationship.

Accept the Thoughts that Create the Jealousy- but Send them into Space

For those who struggle with their thoughts and are challenged when it comes to discrediting them, there is another option. Rather than ‘fighting’ your thoughts you can begin to accept them for what they are- simply thoughts that float through your mind, and not a reflection of who you are. When thoughts of jealousy begin to rear their ugly head, you can chunk them altogether and label them as your “jealousy thoughts”, acknowledge that they do exist, but give them no credence and send them off in a space ship to Mars, or wherever you want by whatever means.

Once these thoughts are gone you can just leave it at that or you can create a positive statement about yourself. For example you could simply say: “I’m okay.”

Reaffirm your Relationship

At the end of the day the reason that you are suffering jealousy is that your relationship is important to you and you are afraid of losing it. Rather than giving your relationship the negative attention of jealousy, place your emphasis on its positive aspects. Sit down with your partner regularly and affirm the feelings you have towards each other, and emphasise the positive aspects of being together. A relationship that is strong and bonded by positive feelings may be able to withstand any attempts jealousy may make to destroy it.

Jealousy is a negative emotion which can cause much damage. If your relationship is a troubled one, and the facts indicate that there has been an abuse of trust, then more work than addressed in this article may be required for relationship recovery. However if your relationship has been a strong one then there is a good chance that you can take appropriate steps to squash jealousy before it takes a hold.