What's Your Relationship to Jealousy?
Depending on your history and proclivities, your relationship to jealousy may look like any one of these statements:
“I hate it, don’t put me in any situation that brings it up. And f*ck you for making me feel this.”
“Argh!! I don’t like it all. But I know it’s something I have to deal with and I’m still figuring it out.”
“Jealousy? I’ve had an evolving relationship with it and it’s been a powerful teacher. I’m not fond of it, but I’ve grown because of it.”
“When people say the word ‘jealousy’ and I have to stretch my imagination to understand what they are talking about.”
Me? I’m somewhere in the middle, I’ve definitely had rounds of it and I’ve definitely grown from it. In my experience, jealousy (when handled with awareness) can be a potent teacher on how to value myself more deeply. And while I can’t say this is always the case, I’ve gotten to a place where I can appreciate the gifts jealousy has uncovered (sometimes.)
An Encounter with Jealousy
Let’s get into this by exploring a classic scenario:
Samantha is at a party with her partner. She sees him across the room laughing, having fun and seemingly flirting with a woman ten years younger and 2 sizes smaller than her. He’s lit up, the woman he is with is lit up. They’re clearly having a great time. A wave of fear washes over Samantha. Now she is distracted from the fun she was just having with her girlfriends. She starts trying to figure out what they are up to.
What is Sam to do? What would you do?
We could continue down this scene and explore various forms of unpleasantness. The jealous rage and shut down versions have been thoroughly explored in movies and TV, so I don’t feel the need to unpack those scenarios.
One scenario that doesn’t get much press is where one meets their jealousy with shame.
In that case Sam’s self-talk could sound like:
“I shouldn’t be feeling this way. He’s free to connect with anybody he wants to. I should be celebrating their connection. Clearly they are having fun. I should be more enlightened than this. Stop feeling this way Sam.”
A Case of "Shoulds"
Notice all the shoulds? Ouch. Feels painful doesn’t it?
Let me say now that I don’t believe that the path to finding value in jealousy is paved with ‘shoulds’. I know it’s tempting to judge yourself against your deepest aspirations (I’ve certainly done it myself), but putting a bunch of ‘shoulds’ on yourself won’t get you what you really really want.
Adding shame to jealousy is kinda like adding alcohol to a flame. Love is what you are afraid of losing-- love is what you need. Please try to give yourself some love and compassion wherever you are with your journey with jealousy.
Finding the Value
Now let’s get back to the business of finding value in jealousy. Let’s explore another scenario with Sam:
Sam greets the jealousy with curiosity and looks within wondering what it has to teach her.
There is no right or wrong way to meet an experience with curiosity. That said, I would recommend employing the sort of curiosity that is genuinely open to learn something new, rather than the interrogator version of curiosity.
Below are three questions that can help get the ball rolling in your inquiry around jealousy. I’ve put them in a class I’m creating that explores six different skills of self-love. Here is a taste of the first three skills:
1) “Is love available even here?”
Sam feels what she is feeling and rather than reject herself, her partner and the situation altogether she asks herself this question and directs her attention to the Source of Love. (That formless, timeless something that millennia of spiritual seekers have talked about.) She asks the above question and calls Love into her experience from something bigger than her scared, small self. She begins to soften feeling more connected to the Source of Love itself. She is reminded of a love that is always available to her, no matter what her man is up to.
2) “Am I in my sphere of sovereignty?”
When Sam asks herself this question, she notes if her energy is leaking out of her personal space and trying to control something that is not hers to control. With her energies now back inside her own sphere, she gets curious about how she is creating the experience she is having right now. She notices that she was focusing her attention on a potential loss and thus leaping out of the present moment. She also sees how the women’s age and body touch a place in her where she judges herself for her own age and weight.
3) “How can I take in more goodness?”
With this question Sam can redirect her attention to what is sweet and good. She thinks of last night’s gorgeous love making and the way her man touched her with such deep appreciation. A feeling of relaxation and settling grows inside of herself. Her heart space opens up more. She is tuning into how much he loves her body and practices truly taking in that love. She notices how her own judgments about her body are blocking her ability to receive his love, so she asks Source to help her out in appreciating her own weight and age just as they are. She feels the support and starts feeling more comfortable inside her own skin. She is now able to pay attention to the fact that she is surrounded by dear friends. She practices taking that goodness in. Now Sam’s ability to see her man and his flirtation shifts. She sees their laughter and their pleasure and she begins to feel the inherent goodness in that. She smiles feeling her love for him and the beauty of his joy. She gives herself permission to reality check with him later to see if there is anything she really needs to be concerned about. In the meantime, she is enjoying herself at the party.
A Jewel Uncovered with Alchemy
A gift was created in this experience with jealousy. The fact that Sam took ownership of her experience helped her become aware of how she was not valuing herself. She took responsibility for the self-judgment and called in more love to meet that aspect of her that felt unlovable. When that self-judgment was held by a greater love it helped her love herself all the more deeply. Thus a jewel was created in this alchemical encounter with jealousy.
So there you have it-- a path to finding value in jealousy. Much easier said than done, but at least we have a trail map and we don’t have to be totally lost all the time. Each one of these skills of self-love are so much easier to do at a party and in a flash if you’ve been practicing them regularly while not under duress.
Connect to Source daily, take ownership of your experience as often if not more often than you brush your teeth and consciously take in the goodness of life as a matter of habit. Your whole psyche will be less and less inclined towards jealousy and all manner of drama in general.
The three other self-love skills in the class that I’m crafting could help Sam and her man grow even closer and more deeply connected from this experience of jealousy. Imagine that?! I’ll save that for another time.
If it feels impossible to connect to Source, because you are too f*cking jealous to find any semblance of presence and what your partner is doing really is wacked, I would recommend dancing out your anger, fears and tears. Put that drama into movement until you’re spent and then try reconnecting with curiosity and love. I’ve done it a number of times and it’s helped me not blow up my love life to smithereens.