Unlearning jealousy is a tricky thing to learn and do for most of us. I know it is because I’ve also had to deal with it when I learned that I have unhealthy ways of coping with jealousy at times. Often times, I am faced with an ugly version of myself. A version which I’m not really particularly proud of and someone whom, if sober me would find, I would probably think is a bit crazy.
Now, I’m not saying that jealousy is inherently a bad thing but neither am I saying that it is something that people should not feel at all. It is a normal feeling that any human being will experience. It’s more of having excessiveness of it that is problematic, especially when it makes us act irrationally that we hurt ourselves and/or other people.
Thankfully, I’m not one of those who turn violent when I am jealous. I just probably become extra annoying and become instantly manipulated by my insecurities that I feel I become a burden to my partner.
I am no expert at unlearning or healthily coping with jealousy, nor do I claim to have a complete grasp on how to do it. But I’ve been trying, and here’s a couple of step-by-step things that helped me manage it:
Understand the deeper meaning of why you are jealous in the first place. Be brutally honest with yourself and why you feel that way. Typically, you’ll find that the issues are not external but more internal. I am jealous because I have a lot of insecurities that weren’t properly addressed and managed when I was growing up. I was often compared and judged, so I feel competitive about the prospect of other people in my partner’s life. I also realized that I am a hoarder of attention and when the spotlight isn’t on me, I become bratty. I easily feel threatened that I am easily dispensable and that there are so many better people around me, that my partner wouldn’t think twice about dumping me.
Focus or observe how you act when you are jealous. I know I start to act unlike my sober self when the jealous face is on. I become aggressive with words and my thought process travels ten times faster than normal. I usually say something I do not mean. I become crass and do not care about the consequences of my actions. I become irritable, and put people on a hot seat unnecessarily. I try to make the excuse of “I Care, Hence Why” which is not helpful at all because there’s this sense of entitlement that our partners are our property and they’re only ours, when it is absolutely not true.
Compartmentalize. They say it’s not really a good habit to practice and I’d say in some cases, it is not good to pack your feelings in a box and ignore them like they’re not there. It is often times better to address the issue head on, but I think it’s also a good exercise to take yourself away from the person and from the situation to cool down so we can think more rationally. What I mean by compartmentalize is to keep your feelings in check, and refrain from making rash stupid decisions or actions which you won’t be able to take back once the situation has fizzled out.
Idealize. Along with compartmentalizing, you also have to take yourself away from the situation as much as you can. Having time to think things a little bit more clearly is definitely helpful. I know it can be of help as well to speak with the other person to get their perspective, but it might be better if you can work out on the issues with yourself at first. How would your sober self have reacted or responded if you weren’t jealous?
Speak with your partner openly. In this department, I’m quite lucky enough that my boyfriend is the most understanding human being in the world and could tolerate my jealousness more than the rest of my previous partners. I can openly talk to him about what is making me jealous, or why I feel that way, or why I even act all bratty when it happens. And he understands, and he listens. Throughout this, I try to speak as honestly as I can, even if that puts me in a very vulnerable position. Even if it makes me feel like he has all the advantage after confessing my innermost wounds, I feel freer because I faced my own faults and I owned up to it.
Work on your issues. Now that you have patched things up with the person and the situation has been mended, it’s time to work on the internal issues that you have. You just have to go through the steps as often as you would like, and try to slowly work on things one-by-one. Find out what solution works best for you, and what can be changed in your life or maybe in your thought process.
Now of course, situations are always case to case basis. I’m not completely dismissing the fact that maybe there are actually situations when it is warranted to feel a little bit jealous. But that’s where the last step of my process comes in. Maybe there are things that you can change, or persons you can leave behind, so that the feeling doesn’t come back or doesn’t occur anymore.
I have had my fair share of that situation before wherein I didn’t feel at ease with the person, and that I just knew I could never ever trust him, no matter how hard I try. I had it in my gut that he is capable, and he knows he is, of breaking my trust over and over. There is an undeniable part of me that could not commit with the person because of the facts. When the relationship ended, it became clearer that the problem was the person themselves. It is no rocket science to admit that it is vital to trust the person you are with, and that is just something that was lacking in my past relationship/s.
I don’t think it is an easy feat to unlearn jealousy. Often times we talk about it in a sense of our partners not being monogamous to us. I don’t think it should be limited to that. There are more and more people nowadays who choose to be with more than one partner but still experience situations wherein they are jealous. I think jealousy comes in so many forms when it comes to relationships, and people have various definitions and reasons why they feel that way. The most important thing at the end of the day is being able to manage it as healthily as possible, and to channel that energy into something else other than potentially sabotaging your valued relationships.