In my book Feeling Good and Living Great (being released July 20011), I dedicate one whole chapter to the feeling of jealousy and show you how to master it. Along these lines I have learned from a couple clients who struggled with intense jealousy issues. What I discovered surprised me, and it may surprise you.
On the positive side jealousy is mainly a sign of what it is you are longing for or desiring in life. That is why I teach people to turn
their jealousy into fulfillment and give you exercises and advice in my book of how to do that. For example, if you don’t feel good about the way you look and feel jealous of someone who looks attractive to you, you can stew in jealousy, or you can get busy fulfilling your dream to be attractive yourself.
On the negative side jealousy is a form of self-abuse. By stewing in your jealousy you prevent yourself from moving forward to have what you really want in life. You prevent yourself from having a fulfilling life. Having said this, I have learned there is actually a darker side to jealousy, both in regards to those who are jealous of you, and those who accuse you of being jealous
But, first let me share some insights I learned after working with an intensely jealous client for years that may surprise you. This client was intensely jealous of the women he was with and was constantly accusing them of wanting other men instead of him. For a long time I helped him deal with his insecurities and anxieties especially as even he learned to rationally see that none of the women he was with were unfaithful or wanting other men in the least. And, then the bomb hit. Maybe it finally came out because I had won his confidence as a counselor. That is why he finally confided in me, “Dr. Lisa, I have a confession. All these years I am the one who has been sleeping with and flirting with other women.” I was floored.
In psychology we call this projection. You project onto someone else behaviors, thoughts, and feelings that are really within yourself. Because my client was so busy cheating, lying, hiding and flirting with other women, he assumed the women he was with were doing the same thing. He assumed they would be just as awful as he was being and so he was constantly jealous and vigilant attempting to make sure they weren’t. Eventually with my help he cleaned up these deceitful behaviors. As he did so, his jealousy calmed down. As he learned to become trustworthy, he was able to more easily trust others.
Which brings me back to the title of this article. When someone accuses you of being jealous because you ask questions about who else they are with, what their intensions are, or share your insecurities know that these behaviors in and of themselves do not constitute jealousy. It could be that there is a valid reason for your feeling this way, especially if your partner is being dishonest with you by lying, hiding, cheating, and flirting around on you in ways you do not feel comfortable with. That isn’t jealousy. It is just trying to get people to be real!
However, it is jealousy if you have proof that your partner is not lying, hiding, cheating and flirting with others in disrespectful ways. And, no partner likes to have to endlessly reassure you that he/she is an honest human being. In fact, constantly accusing people who are honest of being dishonest flat our wears them out. As I told my client who did this it even becomes a form of abuse.
Now, how do you know if your partner is telling the truth or lying, hiding, cheating, and flirting? Usually, you do. Chances are you have caught him/her in these behaviors at least a time or two (or three, or four, or five or more). If you catch them in these behaviors and they accuse you of being jealous, know this, you are not! They are playing the classic blame game of trying to divert attention away from their own dishonesty by making you feel the problem isn’t them, it is you. Don’t let them get away with it. Don’t own an issue that isn’t yours.
And, if you don’t catch them in these behaviors (lying, hiding, cheating, flirting) no matter how hard you look? Then it is your issue. You are being a jealous human being and it is time to get professional help. Maybe you are like my client, maybe your jealous behaviors are a cover up for your own lying, hiding, cheating, or flirting behaviors. Then you are projecting. You are being a hypocrite. Or, maybe you are just being insecure. Then it is time to clean up those insecurities as well. It is time to turn your jealousy into fulfillment and learn how to go constructively for what you want. That can include being a confident, full of integrity, honest, loving, and loved human being. And, why not go for this? After all you are worth it.
Love and blessings,
Copyright 2011 by Dr. Lisa Love. All rights reserved.
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