Relationships

How to deal with jealousy

©iStockphoto.com/warrengoldswain Author: Canadian Living Credits: ©iStockphoto.com/warrengoldswain

Relationships

How to deal with jealousy

No matter how self-confident you may be, pangs of jealousy have a way of popping up out of nowhere. Your coworker gets a promotion, your friend goes on a dream vacation or your partner makes an offhand comment and, before you know it, the green-eyed monster has taken hold.

You might not be able to control your pangs of jealousy, but you can control how you handle them. We turned to Jennifer Schramm, a life coach and psychotherapist based in Oakville, Ont., for some tips on how to get control of a jealous streak for good.

1. Notice when you feel jealous
When a jealous pang hits, tune into your feelings. Acknowledge how you feel and ask yourself what it was that caused your jealousy.

"The most important thing is to be aware of when we are feeling jealous and our reactive behaviour that accompanies it," says Schramm. "Once we are aware, it gives us the power to make new, empowering and proactive choices in how we process, think and behave."

Becoming aware of your jealous thought patterns is the first step to mastering them.

2. Listen to what your emotions are trying to tell you
Rather than focusing on getting rid of jealous feelings, try investigating them instead. There's a reason they came about, after all. Your gut could be trying to tell you something.

"Jealousy is a feeling, and feelings carry messages for us," says Schramm. "Often our jealousy is an opportunity to give ourselves the love and acceptance we need. When we are feeling jealous we can ask ourselves what it is that we need right now -- love, acceptance, reassurance, comfort, compassion, self-respect?"

You may have to step away from and reflect on the situation to find the answer. Try talking about your jealousy issues with a friend or write your feelings down in a journal.
3. Think before you act
In the moment that jealousy strikes, we're not thinking with our rational minds. There is an automatic temptation to get defensive or to make a snide remark, which we know won't help the situation.

"Usually our natural reaction to jealousy is to have a hurried reaction," explains Schramm. "Slow it down. Breathe. Count to 10. Let yourself simmer down."

Letting your imagination run wild will only fuel the fires of jealousy, which isn't fair to you or the person you're feeling jealous of. Schramm also warns against letting negative emotions get the best of you. Remember to keep an overactive imagination in check and be sure to consider the facts.

"Give people the benefit of the doubt rather than jumping to a worst-case scenario," she advises.

4. Talk about it
When we harbour feelings of jealousy, they grow bigger in our minds over time and can eventually turn into resentment and other relationship-sabotaging feelings.

"Holding it in and making up stories in your head only fuels more jealous emotions," says Schramm. "Get out of your head and speak about it. Share and discuss [your feelings] with the person openly," she recommends.

Voicing your issues, as difficult as it is, is crucial to keeping the communication in your relationships healthy. In fact, in an close relationship, security can grow from vulnerability.

"Many of us are afraid to share our vulnerabilities and insecurities for fear of being criticized, yet by sharing these we create safety in the relationship. We understand one another better," says Schramm.

5. Build trust and healthy communication
Work with the other person to find a way to keep your relationship jealousy-resistant in the days to come, starting with regular communication.

"Don't be afraid to communicate and ask for what you need from that person," says Schramm. "Speak using ‘I' statements and do not blame or accuse the other person. Remember, it is your emotion. Tell them how you are feeling."

Don't know where to start? Voicing your issues to the other person can be as simple as naming your emotions and the events that trigger them, says Schramm.

"Your friend or relationship partner may have no idea how you are feeling, and these honest communications can bring you closer and more able to take care of each other's needs," she explains.

Acknowledging your jealous feelings, identifying their source and talking about the issue are all effective ways to combat jealousy. But to cure a jealous streak for good, you must first cultivate a trusting relationship with yourself.

"If you cannot trust yourself, you cannot trust another," says Schramm. Cultivate that solid foundation and you'll be more equipped to keep negative thoughts at bay and learn to trust your instincts.
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How to deal with jealousy

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