Proven methods to recognize and overcome TOXIC JEALOUSY

Everybody feels a little jealous sometimes; however, it is how you deal with this jealousy that can either make or break your relationship. 

It is normal for feelings of jealousy to arise in relationships. Whether they are brought about by a perceived rival in the workplace or in your love life, it happens to everyone. While this is normal, it is important to note that your jealousy can become toxic. In other words, if you fail to control it, you can end up hurting yourself and your relationship.

How to recognize your jealousy:

Bianca Alexander has listed four ways your body responds to this poisonous emotion.

1. Your brain

According to the neuroscientist Hidehiko Takahashi, as soon as you begin to think of scenarios which ignite feelings of jealousy, “the neural nodes of fear, anger, and disgust swing into high gear”. That is to say, our brain experiences feeling hurt by others in social situations (social pain) similarly to how it would experience physical pain. What is more, jealousy also causes the brain to release stress hormones that activate our fight or flight response.

2. Your stomach 

Taking the previous point further, this fight or flight response affects your stomach too. You will find that when you feel scared of losing something or somebody to someone else, your adrenaline rises; this means that you may feel nauseous or lose your appetite.

3. Your eyes

Without even realizing it, your jealousy might be driving you to look at and compare yourself to attractive people who you see as potential rivals. This is often brought about by fear that your partner may be unfaithful or interested in them.

4. Your heart

Much like the nausea and loss of appetite, this sign is easy to recognize; when you feel jealous, your blood pressure rises and your heart begins to beat faster. This proves just how poisonous feelings of jealousy can be as they can result in hypertension and heart failure.

10 ways to overcome your jealousy:

1. Acknowledge your feelings

First and foremost, it is important to admit to yourself that you may be feeling jealous. If you fail to acknowledge your feelings, they may become toxic and destructive. Mark B. Borg Jr., Ph.D. explains this point further as he states that jealousy can be “acted out in exaggerated ways”. We often do this as an attempt to conceal our true feelings; however, acknowledging them is the first step in learning how to control them.

2. Communicate with your partner

This step is extremely important as your partner is most likely already questioning why you have been acting so odd lately. Communication will help in making both of you feel better as you will get these feelings off your chest and your partner will feel more connected to you. However, this should be done carefully as you may find yourself lashing out and blaming them instead; if this happens, you have most likely let your jealousy get the best of you.

3. Identify the cause

Ask yourself: Why do I feel this way? What lies underneath all of this? More often than not, the underlying cause of jealousy stems from not feeling good about yourself. You may have unresolved issues from your past relationships or your childhood. Alternatively, you might have low-self esteem. Dig deep – it is different for everyone. 

4. Examine yourself

Once you have identified the cause, you need to take a step back and make a plan of how you will go about working on yourself. For example, if the problem is your self-esteem, find out what you can do to address this issue. Talking things through with a therapist might be necessary if you find that you cannot do this on your own and require more support.

5. Practice self-care

Jealousy can drive you to having self-destructive thoughts and behaviors. Naturally, this will only fuel your negative feelings further and make things more difficult. Instead, find what makes you feel good and do things which promote happiness, confidence and security.

6. Let go of entitlement

Bianca Alexander notes that “as infants, we’re taught that the world revolves around us: all we have to do is frown or cry and our needs are met without having to lift a finger”. However, this feeling of entitlement can lead to numerous problems in our adult lives. For example, contrary to what you may believe deep down, maybe your coworker did deserve the promotion you felt entitled to. Let go of entitlement and realize that sometimes you just did not earn what you thought you deserved.

7. Practice detachment

In order to take control of your jealousy, you may have to practice detachment. This is true especially for those who find that their attachment to someone or something has become extreme. Feeling possessive can harm your relationship as you find yourself feeling like your partner belongs to you. Consequently, you may try to control them out of fear that you will lose them. Step back, give them space and practice detachment.

8. Work on building trust

It is unlikely that you will feel overwhelmed by jealousy if the trust in your relationship is strong. If you trust your partner, work on building this trust further. If you do not trust them, you may have to rethink your relationship.

9. Use a different perspective

Sometimes you might have to confide in a friend and see how things look from a different perspective. An objective point of view might make you feel differently and give you the reassurance that you need.

10. Stay away from social media

Today, this step can be seen as the most important one. Trying to catch your partner out or compare yourself to others will do you more harm than good. Put the phone down and practice some self-care instead.

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