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What Causes Jealousy and How We Can Handle It

What Causes Jealousy and How We Can Handle It

The green-eyed monster can rear its head in many forms. While it’s synonymous with romantic relationships, jealousy can come in many forms: sibling rivalry, other people’s success compared to our own, or even within friendships.

Whatever area it pops up in, jealousy is an emotion that can be hard to handle and can leave us with a sense of inadequacy, lack of worthiness, and anger. These negative emotions can eat us up unnecessarily, and while a lot of jealousy can be for a good reason, most of the time it’s something that we need to control and comes from incorrect assumptions and perceptions about ourselves and others’ intentions.

Jealousy Comes from Your Unmet Childhood Needs

Jealousy is defined as a strong negative emotion stemmed from insecurity, fear, concern and anxiety over a potential loss of something of great personal value. Sound familiar?

Why is it some of us are more easily prone to assuming the worst and quick to jump to conclusions while others don’t seem affected at all?

The answer could lie in our early years and the relationship we had with our parents or caregivers. As humans we are quite contradictory – while we praise being an individual and the idea of self-reliance, we are also highly social creatures who thrive on acceptance.

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The attachment theory [1] explains how the quality of our early attachment experiences highly influence the way we operate with our adult relationships. If our affection needs are unmet while in childhood by those we have close bonds with, this leads to a sense of insecurity and jealousy with those people we go on to form relationships with.

It’s this insecurity that breeds a strong sense of possession and a fear that we are not good enough. It’s this mislead expectation of others, formed at a young age, that leads to a jealous tendency. This fear of losing someone or their affection, results in hostility towards a rival despite this largely being an incorrect belief or perception.

But Is Jealousy Really That Bad?

Jealousy has been around since the dawn of time. It was Shakespeare who coined the term ‘green-eyed monster’ which conjures up a person who is not typically understanding of a situation, often angry and destructive to themselves and others. But is this always the case?

When you’re on the other end of jealously, albeit a mild case of it, it can elicit feelings of flattery. When a partner expresses slight jealousy because you talked a little too much about your bond with a work colleague, it can feel almost comforting and we often associate it with a feeling that they care.

Animals such as chimps and bluebirds [2] also exhibit the behaviour of jealousy leading us to think it could be more of an advantage in our evolution than we think. It could effectively be a wake up call; a way to indicate to us that we need to regain affection – affection necessary for building our social bonds.

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Jealous Thoughts Can’t Be Removed, But You Can Express Them Properly

So if jealousy is potentially an unavoidable trait, then keeping it under control is the key to harmonious relationships. Depending on our early attachment experiences, many of us will have varying degrees within us so how can we effectively curb any damaging jealous behaviour?

The key lies in the way we build and work on our connections with the people we are in relationships with and working on understanding and dealing with the insecurities that lie beneath our jealousy.

This doesn’t mean eradicating them altogether – after all, it’s hard to undo a lifetime of beliefs and attachment issues. Instead, it’s important to work on managing the negative emotions surrounding jealousy such as fear, unworthiness and anxiety. Research suggests expressing these feelings in the right way is a much better way of managing jealousy and envy than trying to get rid of it altogether.

Effective Strategies to Handle Jealousy

Speak Up

If you’re feeling anger, insecurity and jealousy, the best way is to express this to the other person. Keeping it inside will cause it to fester and will manifest in a potentially toxic way. Remember to keep calm and keep in mind that how you view things may not be the whole story.

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Manage Your Stress

Stress and anxiety can be a big factor in feelings of jealousy so make sure you counteract this with stress management strategies. Exercise, meditation, eating well and anything that supports your mental and physical well-being will help towards all forms of negative emotion.

Ask For Reassurance

Don’t do this in a needy way. Just be honest about the situation and accept what the other person has to say. If they are understanding, they’ll do what they can to make you feel a bit more secure but make sure you don’t overdo it. Accept their answer and don’t focus on the issue. Cultivate a feeling of openness that will encourage a sense of relief and trust between you.

Ask Yourself ‘Is This Relationship Really For Me?’

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If you constantly need reassurance from another person then it might be a red flag that this isn’t a healthy relationship for either of you. There are sometimes reasons why you feel jealousy and if you’ve tried your best to overcome them but are still experiencing envious feelings there could be a good reason. Don’t dismiss your gut feeling but make sure this is done with a clear and healthy mind.

Get to the Root of Jealousy – Insecurity

If jealousy is an underlying manifestation for insecurity, making yourself feel more secure from within is the number one way to combat it.

Don’t compare yourself to others. Remember that your self-esteem takes a dive when you start comparing yourself to your ‘rivals’ and most of the time it is only self-created rivalry. Realise that your negative perceptions are largely untrue.

Question your negative thoughts. Always be conscious of your negative thought patterns. Whenever they arise ask yourself why this is and try to replace them with better feeling thoughts.

Remind yourself that you deserve affection. You are worthy no matter what and understanding this will go towards centring yourself more fully. Self-love and knowing you are enough as you are, will slowly shift your thinking to that of stability in your emotions and will allow you to realise you deserve affection and love.

So don’t beat yourself up for feeling jealousy. It happens to all of us and learning from the destructive nature of jealousy can be a steep learning curve. Remember to start from within and focus on yourself and your worth. Slowly over time you will build up a mindset that will lessen the green-eyed monster within you and help you create more harmonious relationships.

Reference

[1] Developmental Psychology: The Origins of Attachment Theory
[2] LONDNR Magazine: The Science of Jealousy

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Jenny Marchal

A passionate writer who loves sharing about positive psychology.

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Last Updated on April 19, 2021

How to Deal With Anger (The Ultimate Anger Management Guide)

How to Deal With Anger (The Ultimate Anger Management Guide)

We all lose our temper from time to time, and expressing anger is actually a healthy thing to do in our relationships with others. Expressing our differences in opinion allows us to have healthy conflict and many times come to an agreement or understanding that works for everyone. However, there are times when anger can become overwhelming or damaging, and during these times, it’s important to learn how to deal with anger.

Expressing anger inappropriately can be harmful to relationships, both personal and professional. You may express too much anger, too often, or at times that are only going to make things worse, not better. In this article we will look at anger management techniques that will help you better control your emotions.

Let’s take a deeper look at how to deal with anger.

Expressing Anger

Anger is a natural and normal part of almost any relationship. This includes relationships with your significant other, kids, boss, friends, family, etc. Anger provides us with valuable information if we are willing to listen to it. It clues us in to areas where we disagree with others and things that need to be changed or altered.

Unhealthy Ways to Express Anger

Here are some common yet unhealthy ways to express anger that you should avoid:

Being Passive-Aggressive

This is a term many of us are familiar with. Passive-aggressive behavior happens when someone is angry but uses indirect communication to express their anger.

Some of the more common passive-aggressive behaviors include the silent treatment, making comments about someone behind their back, being grumpy, moody, or pouting, or simply not doing tasks or assignments that they should.

This is a passive-aggressive person’s way of showing their anger. It’s not very productive but extremely common.

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Poorly-Timed

Some people get overwhelmed and express anger in a situation where it can’t really do any good.

An example would be getting angry at one person in front of a crowd of people. All that does is make people uncomfortable and shuts them down. It’s not a healthy way to express anger or disagreement with someone.

Ongoing Anger

Being angry all the time is most often a symptom of something else. It’s healthy and normal to express anger when you disagree with someone. However, if someone is angry most of the time and always seems to be expressing their anger to everyone around them, this won’t serve them well.

Over time, people will start to avoid this person and have as little contact as possible. The reason being is no one likes being around someone who is angry all the time; it’s a no-win situation.

Healthy Ways to Express Anger

What about the healthy ways[1] to adapt? When learning how to deal with anger, here are some healthy ways to get you started.

Being Honest

Express your anger or disagreement honestly. Be truthful about what it is that is making you angry. Sometimes this will entail walking away and thinking about it for a bit before you respond.

Don’t say you’re mad at something someone did or said when it’s really something else that upset you.

Being Direct

Similar to being honest, being direct is a healthy way to express anger.

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Don’t talk around something that is making you angry. Don’t say that one thing is making you angry when it’s really something else, and don’t stack items on top of each other so you can unload on someone about 10 different things 6 months from now.

Be direct and upfront about what is making you angry. Ensure you are expressing your anger to the person who upset you or you are angry at, not to someone else. This is very counterproductive.

Being Timely

When something makes you angry, it’s much better to express it in a timely manner. Don’t keep it bottled up inside of you, as that’s only going to do more harm than good.

Think of the marriages that seem to go up in flames out of nowhere when the reality is someone kept quiet for years until they hit their breaking point.

Expressing anger as it occurs is a much healthier way of using anger to help us guide our relationships in the moment.

How to Deal With Anger

If you feel angry, how should you deal with it right at that moment?

1. Slow Down

From time to time, I receive an email at work that makes me so angry that steam is probably pouring out of my ears.

In my less restrained moments, I have been known to fire off a quick response, and that typically has ended about as well as you might imagine.

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When I actually walk away from my computer and go do something else for a while, I am able to calm down and think more rationally. After that happens, I am able to respond in a more appropriate and productive manner. Doing things that helps you learn how to release anger can make an uncomfortable situation more manageable before it gets out of hand.

2. Focus on the “I”

Remember that you are the one that’s upset. Don’t accuse people of making you upset because, in the end, it’s your response to what someone did that really triggered your anger. You don’t want to place blame by saying something like “Why don’t you ever put away your dishes?” Say something more like “Having dirty dishes laying on the counter upsets me—can you work with me to come to a solution?”

When you are accusatory towards someone, all that does is increase the tension. This doesn’t usually do anything except make your anger rise higher.

3. Work out

When learning how to deal with anger, exercise is a great outlet. If something happens that angers you, see if you have the opportunity to burn off some of the anger.

Being able to hit the gym to get a hard workout in is great. If this isn’t an option, see if you can go for a run or a bike ride. If you are at work when you become angry and the weather permits, at least go outside for a brisk walk.

Besides working some of your anger out through exercise, this also helps to give your mind a chance to work through some ways to address what it is that upset you.

If you’re not sure where to start with an exercise routine, check out Lifehack’s free Simple Cardio Home Workout Plan.

4. Seek Help When Needed

There are times when we could all use some help. Life can be stressful and overwhelming. It’s perfectly fine to seek some help from a mental health professional if it will help you get back to a healthy balance.If you find that you are angry all the time, it might be a good idea to go talk to an expert about learning to control intense emotions. They can give you some sound advice and ideas on how to get your anger to a more manageable and healthy level.

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5. Practice Relaxation

We all seem to lead incredibly busy lives, and that’s a good thing if we are loving the life we are living. That being said, it is very beneficial to our physical and mental well-being to take time out for relaxation.

That can mean spending time doing things that help us calm down and relax, like being around people we enjoy, practicing deep breathing or listening to music. It could be making time for things that help bring us balance like a healthy diet and physical activity.

Many people incorporate techniques such as yoga and meditation to calm their minds and release tension when learning how to deal with anger. Whatever your choice is, ensure you take time out to relax when warning signs of anger start to bubble up.

6. Laugh

Incorporating humor and laughter on a regular basis will help keep anger in check and help you get over a bad mood and feelings of anger more quickly. This isn’t part of formal anger management techniques, but you’ll be surprised by how well it works. Remember, life is a journey that’s meant to be enjoyed fully along the way through healthy emotion. Make sure you take time to laugh and have fun.Surround yourself with people that like to laugh and enjoy life. Don’t work at a job that just causes you stress, which can lead to anger. Work at something you enjoy doing.

7. Be Grateful

It’s easy to focus on the bad in life and the things that cause us negative emotions. It’s vitally important to remind ourselves of all the wonderful things in life that bring us positive emotions, things that we easily forget because we get caught up in the whirlwind of day to day life.

Take time out each day to remind yourself of a few things you are grateful for in order to help you learn how to release anger and invite in more positive feelings.

Final Thoughts

Life can be overwhelming at times. We seem to have constant pressure to achieve more and to always be on the go or motivated. People we are around and situations we are in can cause stress, anger, and negative emotions. At times, it can seem to be too much, and we get angry and our emotions start to get out of control.

During these times, keep in mind that life is an incredible journey, full of wonder and things that bring you joy. When you find yourself angry more often than is healthy, take time out to remember the good things in life—the things that we seem to forget yet bring us so much positive energy and emotions.

Use some of the tips included here to help with how to deal with anger and better control your emotions.

More Resources on Anger Management

Featured photo credit: Andre Hunter via unsplash.com

Reference

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