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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 June 24, 2019

Why Social Media Might Be Causing Depression

Why Social Media Might Be Causing Depression

A study [1] published in Depression and Anxiety found that social media users are more likely to be depressed. This was just one of the huge number of studies linking social media and depression[2] . But why exactly do platforms like Facebook and Instagram make people so unhappy? Well, we don’t know yet for sure, but there are some explanations.

Social Media Could Lead to Depression

Depression is a serious medical condition that affects how you think, feel, and behave. Social media may lead to depression in predisposed individuals or make existing symptoms of depression[3] worse explains[4] the study above’s senior author Dr. Brian Primack. So, the problem may not be in social media per se, but how we use it.

Signs You’re Suffering From “Social Media Depression”

If you feel like social media is having a negative impact on your mood, then you may be suffering from “social media depression.” Look for symptoms like:

• low self-esteem,

• negative self-talk,

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• a low mood,

• irritability,

• a lack of interest in activities once enjoyed,

• and social withdrawal.

If you’ve had these symptoms for more than two weeks and if this is how you feel most of the time, then you are likely depressed. Although “social media depression “is not a term recognized in the medical setting, social media depression seems to be a real phenomenon affecting around 50% of social media users. As explained in a review study[5] published in Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, if a person has a certain predisposition to depression and other mental disorders, social media use may only worsen their mental health.

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Social Media Could Crush Self-Esteem

We know that social media and depression are in some way linked, but why is this so? Well, according to Igor Pantic, MD, Ph.D.[6], social media use skews your perception about other people’s lives and traits. To explain this further, most people like to portray an idealized image of their lives, personal traits, and appearance on sites like Facebook and Instagram. If you confuse this idealized image with reality, you may be under the false impression that everyone is better than you which can crush your self-esteem and lead to depression. This is especially true for teens and young adults who are more likely to compare themselves to others. If you already suffer from low self-esteem, the illusion that everyone has it better off than you will just make you feel worse.

Causing Social Isolation and Other Negative Emotions

Another commonly cited reason for the negative impact of social media on mental health is its link with social isolation. Depressed people are more likely to isolate themselves socially and chose only to interact indirectly through social media platforms. But communication online tends to be superficial and is lacking when compared to real-life interaction explains Panic. What this means is not that social media leads to isolation but the other way around, possibly explaining why we find so many depressed persons on these sites.

Lastly, social media use may generate negative emotions in you like envy, jealousy, dislike, loneliness, and many others and this may worsen your depressive symptoms.

Why We Need to Take This Seriously

Both depression and social media use are on the rise according to epidemiological studies. Since each one has an impact on the other, we have to start thinking of healthier ways to use social media. Teens and young adults are especially vulnerable to the negative impact of social media on mental health.

Advice on Social Media Use

Although these findings did not provide any cause-effect explanation regarding Facebook and depression[7], they still do prove that social media use may not be a good way to handle depression. For this reason, the leading authors of these studies gave some suggestions as to how clinicians and people can make use of such findings.

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One suggestion is that clinicians should ask patients about their social media habits. Then they can advise them on how to change their outlook on social media use or even suggest limiting their time spent on social media.

Some social media users may also exhibit addictive behavior; they may spend too much time due to compulsive urges. Any compulsive behavior is bound to lead to feelings of guilt which can worsen depressive symptoms.

Having Unhealthy Relationship with Social Media

If you feel like your relationship with social media is unhealthy, then consider the advice on healthy social media use provided by psychology experts from Links Psychology[8]:

Avoid negative social comparison – always keep in mind that how people portray themselves and their lives on social media is not a realistic picture, but rather an idealized one. Also, avoid comparing yourself to others because this behavior can lead to negative self-talk.

Remember that social media is not a replacement for real life – Social media is great for staying in touch and having fun, but it should never replace real-world interactions.

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Avoid releasing personal information – For your safety and privacy, make sure to be careful with what you post online.

Report users who bully and harass you – It’s easy to be a bully in the anonymous and distant world of social media. Don’t take such offense personally and report those who abuse social media to harass others.

The bits of advice listed above can help you establish a healthy relationship with social media. Always keep these things in mind to avoid losing an objective perspective of what social media is and how it is different from real life. If you are currently suffering from depression, talk to your doctor about what is bothering you so that you can get the treatment you need to get better. Tell your doctor about your social media use and see if they could give you some advice on this topic.

Reference

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