How to Stop Being Jealous
Jealousy is when you react negatively towards someone else having what you want, whether it's money, love, success, or the attention of someone you care about. It's an unhealthy habit that can make any kind of relationship crumble; if you're a jealous person, you've probably already seen how much damage it can do. But at the core of jealousy are some fears and expectations that are hard to shake, unless you make a conscious effort to cast them away.
1. Observe what triggers your jealousy. Certain situations will trigger an image or possibility in your mind that you dread. What are the images and possibilities that pop into your head when jealousy strikes?
o romantic partner interacting with others (co-worker, ex, friend, etc.) - fear of partner cheating with someone who is "better" than you in some way
o child seeming to prefer the company of another adult - insecurity about whether you're doing a good job as a parent
o parent paying attention to their new partner - fear that the parent will not spend any time with you anymore
o friend spending time with other people - fear that the friend will prefer the other people and will not want to spend time with you anymore
o someone else (stranger, co-worker, friend) having good fortune (winning the lottery, getting married, getting pregnant, getting a promotion) - insecurity over unmet expectations
2. Bite your tongue. When you feel jealousy taking over, don't react in a destructive way. Don't accuse, don't give the silent treatment, don't roll your eyes, and don't show any signs of displeasure. Try to do the opposite of what a jealous person would do. If a friend is going to spend time with someone else, for example, recommend a good movie or restaurant. If your partner is talking to someone else, leave them be. Do what a completely trusting person would do in your shoes, even if it makes you feel crazy. Jealous behavior can bring any kind of relationship to its knees, so nip it in the bud.
Jealousy builds walls--literally. This wall was built by a man to block view of his brother's home, who he believed was having in affair with his wife, who he imprisoned for 30 years.
Recognize that jealousy is a self-fulfilling prophecy. When you behave jealously, you don't respond to someone's behavior--you respond to what you believe someone's behavior implies. In other words, you're reacting to a scenario in your mind that you fear, but that hasn't happened yet, and might not happen at all. By playing with another adult, for example, your child isn't doing something inherently wrong. Neither is your friend who's marrying the person they love, or your partner who calls to offer condolences to their ex whose mother just died. But your negative reaction to what you believe their behavior implies (that someone else is somehow better than you) will make the person feel defensive and paranoid, because they're being accused of doing something bad. The more defensive and paranoid they get, the more suspicious and jealous you get. It's a vicious cycles that's difficult to reverse.
4. Build self confidence. Jealousy is usually a by-product of insecurity and low self-esteem. Whether you feel bad about yourself because others have something you don't, or you have a deep-rooted fear of abandonment that someone will leave you because you're "not good enough," you need to learn that other people's behavior and lives are not a reflection on you. Confident people know that even when they are rejected or ridiculed, it's not always because they failed; sometimes people are just short-sighted. And even if they do fail, it doesn't reduce their worth; it simply means they need to learn something new.
5. Stop comparing yourself to other people. Some people seem to have it all, but be realistic--does anyone really lead a problem-free life? They might seem to lead a comfortable life (as many wealthy people do) but it's not always a fulfilling life. And even beautiful, successful celebrities have emotional breakdowns, get cheated on, struggle with addictions, get arrested, and lose their fortunes. Make friends with someone who you think has it all--sincerely take an interest in their lives--and you'll eventually discover that they have their hidden struggles. And if you do find someone who really does seem to have it all together, don't feel threatened by them. Learn from them. Be happy for them.
6. Stop feeling entitled to all of a person's time. If you get jealous when you see someone you care about interacting with or spending time with someone other than you, then you need to consider "How much of this person's time do I really want?" It's understandable if you want to spend a certain amount of quality time with your partner, child, parent, or friend. If they're not spending any time with you, then your concerns are valid. But if they spend a good deal of time with you but you never feel like it's enough, and deep down you'd prefer it if you were together all the time, then it's not healthy. Find other activities, and other people to do them with, to fill your time.
7. Trust. If you get jealous easily, you've probably had your trust broken. Most of the time, the trust was broken in the past, and you inadvertently project your fear of being hurt again onto someone else. The question you need to ask yourself is whether this person (the person who you worry will hurt you) has ever done anything to break your trust in the past. If the answer is no, then it's important to give them credit for that, and not treat him or her like a criminal. If the person has broken your trust in the past, then it's time to forgive, or else jealousy will ruin the relationship. Period.
o In a relationship, boundaries need to be set so you both know what's appropriate and what's not in terms of interacting with other people. This is a difficult subject for many couples, but addressing it will prevent arguments down the line. Ask your partner where they draw the line (flirting? kiss on the cheek? peck on the lips? shoulder massage? dancing?) and see if it matches up with yours. If not, talk it over until you can find common ground.
8. Be positive. Ultimately, jealousy is a fear-based behavior. You're spending a lot of time worrying about something bad that hasn't happened yet, and might not happen at all. In doing so, you're increasing the likelihood of bad things happening by fostering suspicion and distrust. Try to focus on the positive, instead. Be thankful for what you have. And remember that if someone is going to hurt you, there's nothing you can do to stop it anyway. No amount of nagging, monitoring, accusation, snooping, or guarding will prevent you from being hurt. If you believe in someone, believe in them completely; give them all your trust. The benefit of the doubt is essential for any relationship to work. And if you really don't trust them, if you really feel that the person is weak, deceptive, or otherwise untrustworthy, then don't associate with them. You deserve better.
• Always examine your jealous thoughts for a sense of entitlement. Whatever it is that someone is getting and you're not (thus sparking jealousy) is something that you feel entitled to; something that you feel is rightfully yours. Instead of trying to convince someone (through jealous behavior) that they should give you what you want, think of ways you can earn it. Focus on being a good person