“In a world that teaches us we are unworthy of love, we have forgotten that we are love.” Bo L. Arnold
We were out to dinner with another couple a few years back near Winchester, England. A friend of ours was dating someone new and wanted us to meet her. Her name was Adele. After the initial hellos, the conversation turned to interests. Of course, pets came up and I mentioned I had two dogs before I met my partner but, “My one dog, Pookie, fell in love with my partner and they have this amazing relationship that is beautiful to watch.” Adele looked at me and asked, “Aren’t you jealous that your partner is so close to your dog?” I said, “That never crossed my mind” because it hadn’t, but I could see in that moment how so many of us can find any reason to become jealous of anything. I could also see that being jealous seemed like a natural reaction to loving another. It is not. Jealousy and love do not go together, but jealousy and fear do.
Jealousy has nothing to do with the other person or the other thing. The blame we lay on others for feeling jealous is misplaced. In fact, no one is to blame. The truth is jealousy is about us. It’s about our fears, our misperceived shortcomings, our insecurities and our lack of self-love.
We have a belief deep within us that we are not good enough. To us, this means there is something missing or something wrong with us. But, this is a lie. There is nothing wrong with any of us .¨ there is nothing missing. However, the belief in that lie doesn’t allow us to love ourselves. Who would love someone who has isn’t pretty, who isn’t young or who isn’t perfect?
This kind of thinking forces us to create unhealthy attachments to others as we depend on them to make us feel better about ourselves and to love us since we can’t love ourselves. And when that love is threatened, we react with jealousy .¨ out of fear. The unhealthy attachments turn people into commodities, as we see others simply as a means to an end .¨ a way to end our pain of not loving ourselves. Because of this dynamic, we treat people as property, as if we own them and no one else can have them. They can’t look at someone else or talk about someone else. This is fear, not love.
We must realize that expecting another person to make us feel good enough, to feel validated, secure and loved is not only a powerless, vulnerable position to be in, it is an impossible order for others to fill for us. No one can make you feel secure and loved if you don’t love yourself. It might seem like they can for a little while, but soon the wall of compliments and affection will begin to crack. The source that was feeding our own lack breaks down the longer we know someone. That is because the initial draw is usually based on fear, not true love. Anything that is not sourced from love is temporary. It can only break down.
At this point, your mind might tell you that you have a right to be jealous of a partner who you think is cheating on you or that it is normal to be jealous of another person who catches the eye of your beloved. But, this is old, archaic, painful thinking that doesn’t really solve the problem .¨ which is lack of self-love. Don’t be tempted to repeat the old, conditioned thinking about jealousy. It won’t help you break free from it. It only takes the light off the real issue as does blame, anger, resentment and desperation .¨ the real issue being a lack of self-love. If you felt secure in yourself, if you knew that you are good enough in every way and that there is nothing wrong with you, a shift in attention wouldn’t send you spiraling out of control in a fit of desperation and despair. If you truly loved yourself, you would be able to deal with the relationship issue rationally and make the necessary changes. Change and love are the only two constants in the universe.
Awareness, Acceptance & Love
In order to move away from jealousy as a standard response for what looks like non-love from another, feels like a lack of attention from one person or a group or seems like a threat to what we think we own, we must start with awareness and follow that with acceptance. Acceptance is then followed by the practice of self-love as much as possible each day.
- Awareness. It is important to understand that jealousy is not a healthy reaction to anything. When we feel stressed, desperate, rejected, resentful, angry or unlovable, it is a red flag to let us know we are fully involved in the lie we have been taught about ourselves. Next, we have to be willing to do something other than feel jealous. In other words, we have to be willing to let go of feeling jealous in lieu of the truth. We have to be open to the truth about where jealousy comes from and how to correct our misperceptions about ourselves so we can see and handle all situations clearly and without fear.
Be aware, too, that it is not always a cheating partner that makes us jealous. We are capable of being jealous of anything – our partner’s long hours at a job, a hobby or even another’s affection for our pet. Anything that threatens us is an unhealthy attachment to something. The outcome of that unhealthy attachment is often jealousy. We must be aware of this to uncover what keeps us from loving ourselves.
- Acceptance. When we accept the above as the truth, we are able to begin healing our hearts and begin to love ourselves. We may have to remind ourselves of the truth to help us through times when we feel like we are automatically reacting with jealousy, but that’s okay. Your mind might tell you, “She spends too much time working. She must think work is more important than me.” Check this to see if there is an unhealthy attachment there. Are you dependent on someone else to entertain you, make you feel important and special, do you need to feel like you are number one? These are more red flags to help us see the truth about jealousy. Tell yourself, this is not about the other person. It is about you. Accept that without judgment and allow yourself to heal.
It is not easy to accept that this is about you. But, accepting this doesn’t mean you are a bad person or that there is anything wrong with you. Accept yourself. Know that these thoughts come from your training when you were little .¨ training that said “you are not good enough”. Then, let it go.
- Love. The antidote to jealousy is love. Self-love. Self-love is, above all, the one thing that is worthy of practice each and every day. We are not taught to love ourselves so many of us don’t even know where to start. Starting with items one and two above will help. Beyond that, we can:
Gain control of our thoughts and emotions by not following them. For most of us, every thought seems like it is real, important and true .¨ as if we have to pay attention to them and then do something about them. But, most thoughts are made up from the fears we have. This means they are not true. If they are not true, you don’t have to do anything about them. You don’t have to ignore them, but you can just let them sit there. It is an option. Park them without getting involved. You can just say, “I feel jealous and angry right now. Okay, so what. There is nothing to do right now. It’s okay.” This is more powerful than you think. Allowing yourself to do nothing about irrational, fear-based thoughts is freedom from your mind. That is love.
Practicing this will give you the freedom to see the truth about your thoughts. Our mind has a tendency to run wild on just a kernel of information. Once we are swept away by our irrational thoughts, it is hard to stop that locomotive. But, if we see our thoughts for what they are, we don’t have to get dragged away by them as often, if at all.
Be kind to yourself. Since jealousy is driven by our fear of not being good enough, there tends to be a lot of negative self-talk that goes with jealous thoughts. There is nothing loving about any of that.
Don’t use any negative words against you. That means to stop saying things like, “I’m not good enough”, “I’m a loser”, “I never win” or any other statement that leaves you powerless and feeling unloved. Remember, it is up to us to learn to love ourselves. We must stop depending on someone else to do our job for us. Letting go of expecting others to fulfill us will feel scary at first, but it is okay. The freedom to love yourself will encourage you to continue down that path. So, give it a try and know that I am rooting for you. You can do it.
Treat yourself with respect. Be gentle with yourself, compliment yourself and focus on the fabulous things about you .¨ there are many, by the way. Go get a massage. Turn off the TV. Unplug from the internet for an hour a day. Get away from your old routine .¨ the same routine that keeps the stories in your mind that hide the truth about you and your life from you.
When we are so busy, caught up in the thoughts and emotions of jealousy, there is no time for peace in the mind. When we have peace in the mind, we are more focused on the real issue and can find true solutions. The mind doesn’t want solutions because it won’t be able to keep you hooked into the thoughts if you actually solve the issues. How do we solve the issue of jealousy? With self-love.
Loving ourselves sets us free from attachments and we are able to love others purely without fear and then without jealousy. We are worthy of giving love, receiving love and of loving ourselves.