In her column dealing with life’s challenges, life coach Karen Campbell gets face-to-face with the green-eyed monster.
Most of the time jealousy happens because we feel threatened either by someone else’s behaviour (a work colleague getting more praise than you, for example) or that we feel that someone is better than us (if your partner is suddenly hanging around with Mr or Mrs ‘I’m so good looking/funny/clever’ and you just want them to fuck right off).
Jealousy ignites a fire within us that is at times uncontrollable and in the very worst cases, deadly (Othello, anyone?), and concocts a heart-wrenching combination of possession, rage, humiliation and possessiveness, causing us to feel threatened and have low self-esteem.
Don’t get me wrong, some incidents of jealousy are justified and can signal that there are issues in a relationship that need to be addressed. A bit of rational jealousy is also fine: if your colleague gets that promotion you really wanted or your friend gets the guy and you’re still single, it’s perfectly natural to feel a bit jealous because that doesn’t take away from the fact that you’re genuinely happy for them.
Irrational jealousy is the powerful one here, and it needs both understanding and addressing. We all know, or have known, those people who kick off if their partner even looks at someone, making it difficult for the two of them to build a solid, trustworthy relationship (and awkward to be around them as a couple at times). This is the sort of jealousy that can really get out of hand and lead to those people losing partners, friends and colleagues – alongside a huge dollop of self-respect.
First, it’s good to understand why we can feel this overwhelming jealousy. Nearly all jealousy stems from insecurity and worry that others are better than us; whether that’s better-looking, cleverer, funnier, have nicer shoes, are married to Jamie Dornan…
“Realise that each person is different and cannot be compared to others. Just because we had one bellend in the past does not mean that we only attract bellends in the future.”
Let’s look at a common example: when we go out with someone, we tend to feel that, because we adore them, everyone else fancies them and that all these other people would be all over him/her like a pigeon on chips given half the chance.
However, the reality is usually that, even though in our eyes our current squeeze is the hottest thing on two legs, they probably aren’t (unless you’re the aforementioned Mrs Dornan). And even if they are, if they’re anything worth their salt, they are devoted to you as you’re the one they’re in the relationship with.
What happens is that Mr/Miss Jealous is projecting their insecurity within their relationship onto the other person – and by doing that is heading into dangerous territory. That’s not to say that their other half might not have contributed to this lack of confidence within the relationship, but by being jealous of others, there’s the risk that their behaviour will overshadow the real crux of any issues and, in worst cases, steamroller the relationship altogether.
Jealousy can also be hugely apparent between siblings, with one feeling resentful and pushed out in favour of another. This may be through parental attention, e.g. one being seen to receive more financial or emotional support than the other, or a general feeling of being left out. Such situations can spark huge resentment and jealousy that manifests over years, culminating in explosions, arguments and serious damage to relationships.
The key in both scenarios is communication and expressing both to ourselves and each other how we are feeling and why. Easier said than done, granted.
There are ways to try to curb the green-eyed monster.
Be honest with yourself
Ask yourself, is your jealousy rational or irrational? If it’s irrational, look into your past and see if there is a pattern of this previously and in what situations it arose. Was it with ex-partners? At work? Write these incidents down, along with how this jealousy made you feel.
“If – worst case scenario – your partner is looking at someone else in a romantic way then you being jealous won’t stop them doing that.”
This will showcase the triggers of when you get jealous. Learn those triggers and try to recognise them in the future. For example, if your partner is going out with work and will be home late, does this make you feel uneasy and jealous? Why is this – is there an incident in your past where something happened that you can connect to this current feeling?
Try to join the dots. Then realise that each person is different and cannot be compared to others. Just because we had one bellend in the past does not mean that we only attract bellends in the future.
Look at the facts
We can all be guilty of an Oscar performance now and again but really look at the facts here and ask if your jealousy is justified. Is it based on fact or feeling? Have you always been jealous? Is this just something you do? Do you secretly like the drama?
We all have to accept that uncertainty is part of our lives and that to trust is the biggest thing we can offer someone we care about. It’s also very cool to be cool.
Try to increase your confidence
Stop comparing yourself to others, as I have no doubt you’re pretty damn ace. There’ll always be someone better looking, funnier, more successful etc ETC out there but that’s life and the only life you need to worry about is yours. If – worst case scenario – your partner is looking at someone else in a romantic way then you being jealous won’t stop them doing that. That’s their thing and you deserve better. Dignified silence is wonderful.
Focus on you and how you can feel better about yourself. Surround yourself with people you love, do things you enjoy and be comfortable in your own skin.
You know those situations that you really worry about and dread… and then you speak to that person and it’s absolutely fine. If you are experiencing jealousy then try to speak to the other person or persons involved. This can be done in a respectful and dignified way and, a lot of the time, the other person may have the same feelings. A problem shared and all that…
Catch up on Karen’s previous columns here.
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Karen Campbell is a life coach at www.your-dreamcatcher.com. She likes gin, James McAvoy and pretending she's not from Scunthorpe.