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How to Deal with Insecurity and Jealousy in Relationships

How to Deal with Insecurity and Jealousy in Relationships

We’ve all been there. You know what I’m talking about – when the little green monster of jealousy rears its ugly head.

No one likes feeling like this, so how can we overcome these awful feelings and have a successful, happy and healthy relationship?

It’s not always easy, but the good news is that jealousy in relationships can definitely be overcome.

What Causes Insecurity and Jealousy in a Relationship?

There can be many causes of insecurity and jealousy in relationships, but they are all rooted in one basic problem – not feeling good about yourself.

Sure, there are the exceptions where you might have great self-esteem and you just happened to pick a loser who cheats on you. Well, it could happen. But typically, people with a high sense of self-worth don’t choose romantic partners who will treat them badly.

One of the leading causes of low self-esteem (and the resulting insecurity and jealousy) is having a problematic or traumatic childhood.

When a baby is born, its brain is like a blank computer. Nothing has been programmed into it yet. However, as the years go by, everything that is said – and done – to the person gets ingrained into their psyche and creates who they are.

I always say that a parent’s “voice” becomes their child’s “voice” later in life. In other words, if your parents told you that you are a loser, lazy, and no-good, then you will end up believing that too. But if they told you how much they love you, are proud of you, and that you can do anything in life, then you’ll believe that.

As you can see, if you grow up in a household with parents who weren’t loving and didn’t give you positive messages about yourself, well, then you will subconsciously choose romantic partners to match that self-fulfilling image of yourself.

How to Deal with Insecurity and Jealousy in Relationships

Just because you have a track record of being jealous in relationships doesn’t mean that you are doomed to feel that way your entire life.

There are things you can do to try to overcome these insecure feelings so you can have a healthy relationship. Let’s take a look at them.

1. Observe Your Jealous Thoughts and Behaviors

First of all, you can’t change what you don’t recognize. You might think that being jealous and insecure are obvious feelings. While they typically are, just knowing you have them won’t automatically change them.

What you need to do is try to look at your thoughts as objectively as you can. And from there, temporarily accept them.

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Pretend like you are a friend of yours giving you advice. It’s much easier to give other people advice than it is to ourselves, right? If you can re-frame your thoughts from a logical point of view, that is the first step to changing them.

2. Examine Your Past and Try to Figure out Where These Insecurities Come From

These feelings come from somewhere. They don’t just magically appear in your mind for no reason.

For example, they could be rooted in your childhood. Perhaps your dad had a string of affairs on your mom, and so that’s what you saw growing up. If this is the case, then it’s natural that you would think that “all men cheat.”

Or maybe the insecure feelings come from your own experiences. You might have been burned by your first love, and because of that, you find it difficult to trust people.

It doesn’t matter where these thoughts come from, but it will help you if you can pinpoint the underlying cause.

3. Just Because You Have These Thoughts Doesn’t Make Them True

One main problem people have in life is believing every thought that goes through their mind.

Just because you think something, that doesn’t make it true! For example, you might believe that the government is spying on you, but that doesn’t mean it really is. (Perhaps, but maybe not.)

So, you need to acknowledge that these thoughts of insecurity and jealousy might, in fact, be false.

Try to examine them and see if you can eliminate any of them based on that theory

4. Don’t Act on Your Feelings All the Time

Many people don’t have a “filter.” In other words, if they have a thought, it immediately comes out of their mouth. Or if they have a negative emotion, they will act upon it without giving it any rational thought.

I’m sure you’ve heard the term, “think before you speak.” Well, that’s brilliant advice!

Think before you speak – and act. Try to have enough self-control to not say or do anything you will regret because you might make the situation worse if you do.

5. Remember That Uncertainty in Relationships Is Normal

Hey, we are all human. We all have insecurities, and because of that, they will inevitably creep their way into our relationships from time to time. That’s normal.

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Uncertainty is just a way of life because we can’t control everything. The only thing we can control is ourselves.

However, there is a continuum of uncertainty. Some is normal and healthy, but other kinds can be toxic to a relationship.

So, make sure that your level of uncertainty is at a lower level if at all possible.

6. Examine Your Assumptions About the Relationship and About Human Nature in General

If you grew up in a dysfunctional family, you might have learned some very negative patterns for being in relationships. For better or for worse, we learn how to behave in relationships from observing how our parents did it. They are our role models.

Therefore, if you had parents who did not have a happy marriage and they were constantly suspicious and jealous of the other person, then you will probably grow up with the assumption that most people are untrustworthy. Of course, this is far from the truth. However, it may have accidentally become your truth.

7. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

There is no shame in admitting that you are feeling insecure or jealous to your partner. As I said before, we’re all human and will feel this way from time to time.

But maybe your partner doesn’t know you’re feeling that way… they are not mind readers! So, it’s important to share your feelings.

You need to do it in a calm, rational, and peaceful way. You can’t yell, scream, and name-call because it will have the opposite effect.

When you talk about things in a positive manner, you both can take steps in the relationship to try to alleviate your insecurities.

8. Watch His/Her Behaviors and Body Language

Sometimes all of our insecurities and jealous feelings are in our heads. But sometimes it’s not. Sometimes you really do have a valid reason for feeling the way you do.

It’s important to keep your eye out for any suspicious behaviors your partner might have. For example, do they keep their phone away from you and or hide it when you walk in the room? Are they acting weird?

If so, then you might have a rational reason to feel insecure. But if not, maybe you’re just making it all up in your head.

9. Don’t Keep a Tight Rope on Him/Her

It’s almost instinctual to try to limit your partner’s actions when you feel jealous or insecure. You want to know where they are, when they are coming home, and who they are talking to.

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But this will only drive them away from you. No one wants to feel like they are controlled and not trusted.

Even though you are jealous, let them live their life freely. Don’t be a micromanager of their life.

10. Take Action If Something Is Really Fishy

Even though you shouldn’t treat your partner like a caged animal and should give them their freedom, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be on the lookout for any suspicious behavior. You can be observant without being obvious.

If you see strange behaviors, or experience anything that makes you uncomfortable, bring it up for conversation. People who have nothing to hide…hide nothing.

If you talk to your partner about their “suspicious” behavior, they should be able to come clean very easily if they’re not doing anything wrong. And if they don’t, then you probably have your answer.

11. Talk to a Therapist

Many people think that going to a therapist makes them weak. But that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Acknowledging that you need to work on yourself, your self-esteem, and insecurities is a brave and noble thing to do.

If you can afford it, seek help. A good therapist can help you identify the reasons you are jealous, how to overcome them, and can put you on the path to healing – and a healthy relationship.

12. Write down Your Positive and Negative Qualities (And His/Hers)

Our insecurities come from thinking we are not “good enough” for the other person. But everyone has good qualities, you just need to take the time to recognize them.

Write down everything about yourself that you consider to be good. That will help you realize all the reasons that you don’t have to be insecure or jealous.

Do the same with your partner. When we are jealous, we tend to focus on negative thoughts – not only about ourselves, but about them too. So, write down all the good qualities they possess. That way, your mind won’t wander into unwanted territory.

13. Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

Another huge way that we arrive at our insecurities is comparing ourselves to other people. We look at other people and think how much more attractive they are, or that their personality is better, or they make more money than us.

You have to stop comparing yourself to others because you are uniquely YOU. Embrace yourself!

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If you absolutely have to compare yourself to others, then compare yourself to people who you perceive to be worse off than you. Not to judge them, but to put your thoughts into perspective. If you do this, you will be able to appreciate yourself and your life a lot more.

Learn more about how to stop comparing yourself to others:

The More We Compare, the More We Lose Ourselves

14. Love Yourself Enough to Be Brave Enough to Lose Them

One last thing at the core of our jealousy and insecurities is not loving ourselves, and that leads to the fear of being alone.

In fact, many people would rather stay in toxic relationships than be alone. Why? Why would you want to be treated like crap from someone else just so you can be in a relationship?

You shouldn’t do that.

Here’s Why Trying Hard to Stay in an Unhappy Relationship Is Not Love, but Fear.

Love yourself enough to have higher standards. Once you are comfortable in your own skin and won’t settle for anything less than you deserve, that’s when you will become more confident. And then your fears and insecurities will slowly disappear altogether.

Bottom Line

As you might suspect by now, getting rid of insecurities and jealousy in a relationship has very little to do with the other person, and everything to do with you.

You need to love and value yourself. If you do, then you will most likely attract higher quality people who are naturally trustworthy.

And even if you don’t, you won’t hesitate to walk away from anyone who isn’t treating you with the respect you deserve.

Featured photo credit: Justin Follis via unsplash.com

More by this author

Carol Morgan

Dr. Carol Morgan is the owner of HerSideHisSide.com, a communication professor, dating & relationship coach, TV personality, speaker, and author.

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Published on May 18, 2021

How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

We have two ears and one mouth for a reason—effective communication is dependent on using them in proportion, and this involves having good listening skills.

The workplace of the 21st century may not look the same as it did before COVID-19 spread throughout the world like wildfire, but that doesn’t mean you can relax your standards at work. If anything, Zoom meetings, conference calls, and the continuous time spent behind a screen have created a higher level of expectations for meeting etiquette and communication. And this goes further than simply muting your microphone during a meeting.

Effective workplace communication has been a topic of discussion for decades, yet, it is rarely addressed or implemented due to a lack of awareness and personal ownership by all parties.

Effective communication isn’t just about speaking clearly or finding the appropriate choice of words. It starts with intentional listening and being present. Here’s how to improve your listening skills for effective workplace communication.

Listen to Understand, Not to Speak

There are stark differences between listening and hearing. Listening involves intention, focused effort, and concentration, whereas hearing simply involves low-level awareness that someone else is speaking. Listening is a voluntary activity that allows one to be present and in the moment while hearing is passive and effortless.[1]

Which one would you prefer your colleagues to implement during your company-wide presentation? It’s a no-brainer.

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Listening can be one of the most powerful tools in your communication arsenal because one must listen to understand the message being told to them. As a result of this deeper understanding, communication can be streamlined because there is a higher level of comprehension that will facilitate practical follow-up questions, conversations, and problem-solving. And just because you heard something doesn’t mean you actually understood it.

We take this for granted daily, but that doesn’t mean we can use that as an excuse.

Your brain is constantly scanning your environment for threats, opportunities, and situations to advance your ability to promote your survival. And yet, while we are long past the days of worrying about being eaten by wildlife, the neurocircuitry responsible for these mechanisms is still hard-wired into our psychology and neural processing.

A classic example of this is the formation of memories. Case in point: where were you on June 3rd, 2014? For most of you reading this article, your mind will go completely blank, which isn’t necessarily bad.

The brain is far too efficient to retain every detail about every event that happens in your life, mainly because many events that occur aren’t always that important. The brain doesn’t—and shouldn’t—care what you ate for lunch three weeks ago or what color shirt you wore golfing last month. But for those of you who remember where you were on June 3rd, 2014, this date probably holds some sort of significance to you. Maybe it was a birthday or an anniversary. Perhaps it was the day your child was born. It could have even been a day where you lost someone special in your life.

Regardless of the circumstance, the brain is highly stimulated through emotion and engagement, which is why memories are usually stored in these situations. When the brain’s emotional centers become activated, the brain is far more likely to remember an event.[2] And this is also true when intention and focus are applied to listening to a conversation.

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Utilizing these hard-wired primitive pathways of survival to optimize your communication in the workplace is a no-brainer—literally and figuratively.

Intentional focus and concentrated efforts will pay off in the long run because you will retain more information and have an easier time recalling it down the road, making you look like a superstar in front of your colleagues and co-workers. Time to kiss those note-taking days away!

Effective Communication Isn’t Always Through Words

While we typically associate communication with words and verbal affirmations, communication can come in all shapes and forms. In the Zoom meeting era we live in, it has become far more challenging to utilize and understand these other forms of language. And this is because they are typically easier to see when we are sitting face to face with the person we speak to.[3]

Body language can play a significant role in how our words and communication are interpreted, especially when there is a disconnection involved.[4] When someone tells you one thing, yet their body language screams something completely different, it’s challenging to let that go. Our brain immediately starts to search for more information and inevitably prompts us to follow up with questions that will provide greater clarity to the situation at hand. And in all reality, not saying something might be just as important as actually saying something.

These commonly overlooked non-verbal communication choices can provide a plethora of information about the intentions, emotions, and motivations. We do this unconsciously, and it happens with every confrontation, conversation, and interaction we engage in. The magic lies in the utilization and active interpretation of these signals to improve your listening skills and your communication skills.

Our brains were designed for interpreting our world, which is why we are so good at recognizing subtle nuances and underlying disconnect within our casual encounters. So, when we begin to notice conflicting messages between verbal and non-verbal communication, our brain takes us down a path of troubleshooting.

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Which messages are consistent with this theme over time? Which statements aren’t aligning with what they’re really trying to tell me? How should I interpret their words and body language?

Suppose we want to break things down even further. In that case, one must understand that body language is usually a subconscious event, meaning that we rarely think about our body language. This happens because our brain’s primary focus is to string together words and phrases for verbal communication, which usually requires a higher level of processing. This doesn’t mean that body language will always tell the truth, but it does provide clues to help us weigh information, which can be pretty beneficial in the long run.

Actively interpreting body language can provide you with an edge in your communication skills. It can also be used as a tool to connect with the individual you are speaking to. This process is deeply ingrained into our human fabric and utilizes similar methods babies use while learning new skills from their parents’ traits during the early years of development.

Mirroring a person’s posture or stance can create a subtle bond, facilitating a sense of feeling like one another. This process is triggered via the activation of specific brain regions through the stimulation of specialized neurons called mirror neurons.[5] These particular neurons become activated while watching an individual engage in an activity or task, facilitating learning, queuing, and understanding. They also allow the person watching an action to become more efficient at physically executing the action, creating changes in the brain, and altering the overall structure of the brain to enhance output for that chosen activity.

Listening with intention can make you understand your colleague, and when paired together with mirroring body language, you can make your colleague feel like you two are alike. This simple trick can facilitate a greater bond of understanding and communication within all aspects of the conversation.

Eliminate All Distractions, Once and for All

As Jim Rohn says, “What is easy to do is also easy not to do.” And this is an underlying principle that will carry through in all aspects of communication. Distractions are a surefire way to ensure a lack of understanding or interpretation of a conversation, which in turn, will create inefficiencies and a poor foundation for communication.

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This should come as no surprise, especially in this day in age where people are constantly distracted by social media, text messaging, and endlessly checking their emails. We’re stuck in a cultural norm that has hijacked our love for the addictive dopamine rush and altered our ability to truly focus our efforts on the task at hand. And these distractions aren’t just distractions for the time they’re being used. They use up coveted brainpower and central processes that secondarily delay our ability to get back on track.

Gloria Mark, a researcher at UC Irvine, discovered that it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds for our brains to reach their peak state of focus after an interruption.[6] Yes, you read that correctly—distractions are costly, error-prone, and yield little to no benefit outside of a bump to the ego when receiving a new like on your social media profile.

Meetings should implement a no-phone policy, video conference calls should be set on their own browser with no other tabs open, and all updates, notifications, and email prompt should be immediately turned off, if possible, to eliminate all distractions during a meeting.

These are just a few examples of how we can optimize our environment to facilitate the highest levels of communication within the workplace.

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Effective communication in the workplace doesn’t have to be challenging, but it does have to be intentional. Knowledge can only take us so far, but once again, knowing something is very different than putting it into action.

Just like riding a bike, the more often you do it, the easier it becomes. Master communicators are phenomenal listeners, which allows them to be effective communicators in the workplace and in life. If you genuinely want to own your communication, you must implement this information today and learn how to improve your listening skills.

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Choose your words carefully, listen intently, and most of all, be present in the moment—because that’s what master communicators do, and you can do it, too!

More Tips Improving Listening Skills

Featured photo credit: Mailchimp via unsplash.com

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