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Alcohol and Mental Health

How To Overcome Jealousy

September 16, 2023
17 min read
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Reframe Content Team
A team of researchers and psychologists who specialize in behavioral health and neuroscience. This group collaborates to produce insightful and evidence-based content.
September 16, 2023
17 min read
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Certified recovery coach specialized in helping everyone redefine their relationship with alcohol. His approach in coaching focuses on habit formation and addressing the stress in our lives.
September 16, 2023
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Recognized by Fortune and Fast Company as a top innovator shaping the future of health and known for his pivotal role in helping individuals change their relationship with alcohol.
September 16, 2023
17 min read
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Reframe Content Team
September 16, 2023
17 min read

Your partner has been spending a lot of time with a new coworker on a work project. This particular coworker is very intelligent and good looking, and you start worrying your partner might find them attractive. Pretty soon, these worries turn into bitterness and anger, and you start scrolling through social media for signs that your partner is cheating on you. 

Jealousy is a powerful emotion that can be difficult to tame. It can quickly create a whirlwind of chaos, drive a wedge in relationships, and prevent us from living a happy, healthy life. If you’re wondering how to overcome jealousy, how to handle a jealous partner, or how to stop jealousy for interfering in your relationships, it’s time to dig deeper. In this post, we’ll explore what jealousy is and why it can be so problematic. We’ll also explore tips for managing jealousy in healthy, effective ways. Let’s get started! 

What Is Jealousy?

We’ve all experienced that green-eyed monster, otherwise known as jealousy. We’ve likely been warned of its destructive nature or told something to the effect of “jealousy ruins relationships.” Maybe we’ve even told others, “Don’t be jealous!” 

Jealousy is a complex emotion that usually arises when we’re worried about losing someone or something important to us. It’s different from envy, which involves wanting something that belongs to someone else. For instance, we might envy our friend’s brand new car, or envy a colleague’s career success. 

But jealousy is often accompanied by feelings of resentment, anger, hostility, inadequacy, and bitterness. It typically stems from insecurity, low self-esteem, or a fundamental fear of unworthiness. It can also range in intensity. In severe cases, jealousy can lead to paranoia, distrust, abuse, or even physical violence.

How Jealousy Happens

Jealousy is most often associated with romantic relationships. For instance, feelings of jealousy might arise if our partner spends time hanging out or talking at length with someone who seems threatening to the relationship. Studies show that men tend to feel jealous over a third party’s dominance and are more concerned about sexual infidelity, whereas women tend to feel jealous of a third party’s attractiveness and are more concerned about emotional infidelity. 

But jealousy can also show up in our professional environment, within friendships, families, and elsewhere. For instance, if a sibling accomplishes a major feat and receives a lot of attention for it, we might experience jealousy. Or when a coworker receives a promotion or reward that we thought we deserved, we might become jealous. 

Tracking with studies about relationship jealousy, one study found that women are more prone than men to get jealous over their employers’ physical attractiveness. Men, on the other hand, are more prone to feel jealous over their employers’ physical dominance.

Is Jealousy Really All That Bad? 

For as negative a reputation as it has, jealousy is actually a very natural emotion. In fact, research suggests that jealousy is not inherently bad: in small doses, it can serve as a reminder to cherish a close relationship. For instance, one study found that friendship jealousy — which arises when a person is threatened by their friend’s romantic relationship or new friend — can help protect and maintain friendships. 

The main problem with jealousy isn’t that we feel it; the problem is what it does to us when we don’t know how to deal with it. When we don’t control our jealousy, it can overpower or shape the way we feel about ourselves and the world. 

In other words, while it’s not an inherently bad emotion, unchecked jealousy can be problematic, preventing us from maintaining healthy relationships. It can even cause physical symptoms, such as headaches, stomach aches, chest pain, high blood pressure, weight gain or loss, insomnia, heart palpitations, and weakened immunity. 

Pathological jealousy can be particularly dangerous. This type of jealousy is often irrational; it may result from an underlying mental health disorder, such as anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, schizophrenia, or a mood disorder. Usually this type of jealousy requires professional treatment. 

Healthy Ways To Deal With Jealousy

How To Get Over Jealousy

Now that we have a better understanding of what jealousy is and how it can become problematic, let’s look at how to handle jealousy effectively. Understanding where our jealousy comes from and learning to control it in healthy, adaptive ways improves many areas of our lives, from our relationships to our careers and personal goals. 

So if you’re wondering how to combat jealousy effectively, here are 10 effective ways.

1. Acknowledge Your Feelings

The most important step in learning how to handle jealousy is to acknowledge that you’re having jealous feelings. We can’t fix a problem unless we admit there’s a problem! When you notice jealousy creeping in, ask yourself what, exactly, you’re jealous about. But don’t judge yourself! Doing so will only increase jealousy’s power over you. Instead, recognize that you’re having jealous feelings and tell yourself it’s ok — because it is! Jealousy is a normal part of the human experience. There’s power in naming our emotions, even the uglier ones.

2. Reflect on the Root of Your Jealousy

What lies at the root of our jealousy? One of the best ways to deal with jealousy is to recognize where it’s actually coming from. For instance, maybe you realize that your friend’s new relationship is causing jealousy because you haven’t had much luck dating, and you worry that you’ll never find the right person. Or maybe you realize that when your partner starts spending a lot of time with a new friend, you feel jealous because that was the first sign you noticed when a previous partner cheated. Whether our jealousy stems from insecurity, fear, or past relationship patterns, knowing more about the causes can help us confront it.

3. Voice Your Concerns

If someone’s actions trigger jealous feelings, it’s important to discuss this with them as soon as possible. Opening up about our jealousy can help the other person understand where we’re coming from, and they might decide to adjust their behaviors to help us feel more secure. Voicing our concerns opens communications that keep our relationship strong. Remember not to “attack” the other person with an accusatory tone. The goal is to calmly and rationally explain our feelings. 

4. Identify Your Needs

Jealousy can teach us about ourselves and our needs. Instead of thinking of jealousy as something “bad” that we should ignore or eliminate, consider it a source of information. For instance, jealousy can tell us there’s a difference between what we have and what we want. Try asking yourself what need isn’t being met, and how you can work to fulfill it. For instance, maybe you feel jealous of your best friend because they’re pursuing a career as an artist, while we’re afraid to take that step. This might be a sign to rethink your career path. Remaining curious about our emotions can lead us to greater insights and truths. 

5. Cultivate Self-Love

Jealousy often correlates with low self-esteem and can be caused by insecurity. It can also come from harsh inner criticism in the form of negative self-talk. Self-compassion and self-love can boost our self-esteem and counter feelings of jealousy. How do we do this? By reminding ourselves of our positive traits, strengths, and skills; speaking gently to ourselves as we would a friend; practicing daily affirmations; and making time to engage in the activities we enjoy. 

We might also consider writing down all of the things we like about ourselves and our life, such as our relationships, job, or how much we’ve grown in the past few years. Whenever we’re feeling jealous, we can turn to this list to help us feel more confident and secure. 

6. Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness techniques help us pay attention to our thoughts and feelings without judging or criticizing them. Increasing our awareness around jealousy can help us notice any patterns it follows, including our jealousy triggers. Mindfulness can also help us accept our jealousy as part of our human emotional experience and move on, rather than letting it consume us or turn into self-blame. (We can’t say this enough: don’t judge yourself!)

7. Practice Gratitude for What You Have

Counting our blessings can go a long way in reducing feelings of jealousy, in addition to boosting our mood and mental health. When we’re struggling with jealousy, it can be difficult to see the good things in our life. Try keeping a gratitude journal and listing 3 things you’re grateful for every day. These can be both big and small things, like the fact that we have a roof over our head, access to nutritious food, a partner who loves us, or a new pair of gloves. Appreciating small things can help us realize that we have a lot to be grateful for, diminishing our jealousy of others.

8. Take a break

It’s important not to avoid making rash decisions when feeling jealous. Choices made and words spoken during a heightened emotional state can have long-lasting negative consequences. Sometimes, it’s helpful to take a break from our feelings, gain some perspective, and self-soothe. We can do this by journaling, meditating, or exercising. Physically moving our body or “walking it off” can have a calming effect and bring a renewed perspective. 

9. Talk to a Trusted Friend 

A trusted friend can give us a healthy outlet to vent our frustrations. Keeping things in, suppressing them, or trying to deal with them on our own is usually ineffective. Ask to sit down with a loved one to tell them that you're struggling. Be open and honest. Simply voicing concerns out loud can provide a sense of relief and help us gain some perspective. 

10. Talk to a Therapist

Sometimes, it helps to talk things out with a licensed counselor or therapist. There’s nothing wrong with this! A trained provider can help us uncover the root cause of our jealousy and offer strategies to help us overcome it. Jealousy usually sends us a message about the unhealed parts of ourselves, and a therapist can help guide us through the process of inner healing

Sometimes, jealousy is rooted in events that happened in our early childhood. For instance, if we constantly struggle with self-worth and feel like everyone is going to leave us, we might have an insecure attachment style. Therapy can help us become more confident to prevent this from becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. 

We should probably consider therapy if our jealousy leads to obsessive, fixated or uncontrollable thoughts, compulsive behaviors, violent thoughts or urges, or prevents us from functioning normally day-to-day.

The Bottom Line

Jealousy is a normal human emotion; we all experience it from time to time. The problem arises when our jealousy overpowers us and prevents us from maintaining healthy relationships. This is why knowing how to handle our jealousy can make a world of difference. The most important thing we can do is acknowledge whenever we’re having jealous feelings. Ignoring, suppressing, or denying jealousy only makes it worse. 

If you’re using alcohol as a way to deal with jealousy, consider trying Reframe. We’re a neuroscience-backed app that has helped millions of people reduce their alcohol consumption, develop healthier lifestyle habits, and enhance their well-being.

Summary FAQs

1. What is jealousy?

Jealousy is a complex emotion that usually arises whenever we’re worried about losing someone or something important to us. It typically stems from insecurity, low self-esteem, or a fundamental fear of unworthiness.

2. Why is the problem with jealousy? 

While it’s not an inherently bad emotion, unchecked jealousy can be problematic and prevent us from maintaining healthy relationships with others. 

3. What are some tips for overcoming jealousy? 

We can deal with jealousy in a healthy, effectively way by acknowledging our feelings, reflecting on the root of jealousy, voicing our concerns, identifying our needs, cultivating self-love and self-compassion, practicing mindfulness, developing a gratitude practice, talking to a trusted friend, or turning to a therapist for professional support. 

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