Ah, the green-eyed monster. We all get jealous from time to time, and that’s normal. But there’s a line, one that exists somewhere between a pang of jealousy when your significant other checks out a leggy girl passing by, and getting enraged because he spent the family dinner catching up with his cousin – who happens to be female. These feelings can apply to a number of situations, including jealousy over colleagues, friends, and family. But if your jealousy is crossing the line, it may be time to take charge and tame the monster.
Where’s the line?
The first thing is identifying that line of healthy jealousy. A good way to gage this is by asking how long you feel that nasty sensation in your stomach. If it’s fleeting, you’re good. If it’s still there hours later, niggling in the back of your head, there’s something wrong. The other rule is if it results in a fight, it’s a problem.
Find the root of the problem
It’s rarely about the thing you’re actually jealous about. Most of the time, it stems from insecurity. Maybe you don’t feel attractive enough, so you’re paranoid about your boyfriend even glancing in the direction of another woman. Maybe you don’t feel successful enough, and you seethe for days when your friend announces her fabulous new job on Facebook. You have to pinpoint the real problem, and be painfully honest with yourself. Sometimes we don’t like admitting certain feelings of adequacy, but we can’t move forward without shining a light on it.
Change your internal dialogue
We all have conversations with ourselves, and it can be a hard thing to change. Start by making notes of the negative comments you tell yourself. Write it down. Record it on your iPhone. Thoughts are fleeting and easy to ignore, but once they’re written down, they become a lot more blatant. Now take what you’ve written, go to a quiet space, and write down the opposite. If you wrote “I am ugly,” write “I am beautiful.” Now start reading the positive sentences out loud. It may feel silly, but changing your habits verbally gives it more conviction.
Make a plan
Next you have to identify how you can achieve specific goals based on your insecurities. If you’re jealous over your friend’s new job, is it because you need to change your own career path? If you feel unattractive, do you need to connect with your physical self? Set actionable goals to improve these areas, whether it’s trying yoga or signing up for classes to learn a new career skill. This isn’t about making big, life-altering changes, but rather about exploring areas that are currently a sore spot and turning them into something positive. Start small. You might be surprised at how much impact even the little things can have.
Talk it through
It’s a good idea to share your feelings with someone you trust. Let them help you go through these steps and keep you on course. It’s easy to fall back into old habits, so you’ll want a cheerleader to positively reinforce any steps you take in the right direction. Choose someone who you haven’t directed your jealousy towards to keep it less complicated.
Changing the way you think and feel is never easy, but if jealousy is becoming a serious problem in your life, it’s time to take action and do the work. Just remember, it’s normal to feel a little jealous; it can add excitement to a relationship, or motivation to a career. But it’s not normal for jealousy to paralyze you or keep you from enjoying healthy relationships. And if that’s the case, it’s time for a little honesty.