Today I want to talk about jealousy.
Yuck, I know. And of course we never feel jealous, right? So why am I even bringing this up? Because the truth of the matter is that we DO feel it. We feel it more than we want to admit.
Throughout my life, I have found that when we bring our vulnerabilities to the light, we can closely examine them, admit them, feel them, and start to let them go. This process can feel so crappy, and so painful, and eventually, so, so necessary and hopefully, freeing.
The first thing we’ll need to do is to understand why we feel jealous. The good news is that it’s perfectly normal, and our biology is already programmed to feel it to a certain degree. This is because back when women couldn’t get a great job with a 401K and health insurance, we needed our man to kill our dinner and bring it back to the cave. Our very survival depended upon them. Imagine if he decided to start visiting another cave? (To make matters worse, the other cave woman is probably doing Pilates six times a week and has a pin-worthy kitchen…).
And men are programmed for jealousy as well, but in another manner. Before the ability to buy paternity tests at a local drug store for $22.99 (or Jerry Springer), men had no way of knowing if they were the biological father of their children. This is a problem because humans are wired to continue the human race.Not knowing if your woman is scoping out someone who may be a better hunter with a higher sperm count was a serious threat to the possibility of passing on your genes.
Fast forward to modern times, and we’d love to think we’ve evolved past this part of our biology, but we haven’t. It just looks different.
Women are still sizing up men, albeit subconsciously, based upon their ability to provide. And even though their “ability to provide” (on a rational, sensible, logical level) in modern times is earning potential, we’re still attracted to men based upon their physical attributes. If you don’t believe me, let me know how many calendars you can find of shirtless IT guys holding kittens, versus firefighters. The IT guys make way more money, but biologically (and again, subconsciously), the firefighter appears to have a better shot at killing dinner.
This is the reason that men feel jealous when they see a guy they fear you may find more physically attractive. They’re protective of their ability to be your provider, your knight in shining armor, your caretaker, and your baby daddy.
The same is true for women. We also feel jealous but not for physical reasons. Our jealousy is steeped in the fear that our man will become emotionally invested in someone else. Someone they feel connected to and would prefer to replace us with. Our jealousy comes from a deep-rooted need to be cared for, and in prehistoric times, could have meant the difference between life and death for us and our children. This is why, even though through societal evolution we are able to make our own money and care for ourselves and our children, we still fear being abandoned.
Being emotionally abandoned, even just the idea of it, is very scary, and it’s very real, and that is the reason for the jealousy. It’s common for women to struggle with this, and most of us do to some degree. The very simplest explanation is that it’s because of our fear of not being enough.
I so desperately wish that I could wipe away all of our fears about being enough. If I had one wish (okay, let’s make it three wishes, because if I had one wish I think it would involve a beach house) I would wish that everyone knew they were enough! So many of our problems are caused by our own selves because we fear that we don’t measure up in myriad ways. This is what holds us back from pursuing bigger dreams, from taking risks, from asking questions, from saying what needs to be said, from standing up for something we believe in. It’s because we’re afraid someone will say, “Who are you to (fill in the blank)? You are not enough!”.
When we talk about jealousy, we’re normally talking about romantic relationships. Let’s be honest, it’s a pretty huge deal, and it creeps in at all different levels for most of us. But, jealousy spreads its nasty claws out into all of our relationships. The relationships we have with our family, our friends and acquaintances, and ourselves.
I know! I wish I were wrong (but that almost never happens, ask my husband).
That is the twisted irony of jealousy, and so many of us fall into the trap. Our fear of not being enough, the very fear that causes us to be jealous in the first place, the fear that holds us back, is the same fear that other people are feeling too, and so we’re like this giant collective of people living stuck and insecure. Those who get out of the collective are, you guessed it, the ones we’re jealous of. They’re a (not actual) threat to our survival.
There are Things We Can Do (About Jealousy)
I recently learned this exercise at a class I took on wellness (I know, a wellness blogger taking classes on wellness, its sheer madness). When we are beating ourselves up over things (so in this case we’re going to use a situation wherein we feel jealous), there are some things we need to ask ourselves:
- Is this true? Actually true? Is my husband going to meet my attractive colleague and instantly want to leave me for her? Have I seen him do this in the past? Has he sent text messages, made phone calls, and sneaked around with colleagues of mine in the past? If so – yes, you have every reason to be jealous (however I may use the term legitimately concerned) and you probably need to confront the situation immediately. However, if it is not true, and you have no proof it’s true, and you rationally know in your mind that you have nothing to be worried about, ask yourself why.
- Why am I jealous about this? Have you at some point in your life experienced a loved one abandoning you for a colleague at the office? Or, in the interest of honesty, do you feel like you are somehow not the person you’ve decided they wish you were? Try to keep in mind that they wouldn’t be in a relationship with you if they truly thought you weren’t “enough” for them and would like to take a look at all of your colleagues’ LinkedIn profiles.
- What absolutes can you tell yourself about this situation? When your mind is on the worry train, and you can’t get off because you’re really making up a gem of a tale about how your spouse is about to leave you for the cover model of this months Hot Bodies of Corporate America Monthly (which isn’t a real thing, btw), go ahead and worry your little head off about it. You have 15 minutes. And then it’s time to quit and get back to the real world (where that cover model wears dirty sweats and hasn’t been airbrushed) and take a look at what’s real. The real story is that your spouse/partner/significant other has found a zillion things about you endearing enough to want to be in a committed relationship with you. Tell yourself what is true about that story. Are they physically attracted to you? (Most likely, yes.) Do you laugh together? Do you love each others company? Do you share goals, ideals, plans for a future? Are you great parents to awesome kids? Do you make a great team? This is your true story, and this is the story you need to tell yourself regularly. Every day if that’s what it takes.
A Jealousy Truth Bomb
So, what about the “Who are you to (fill in the blank)? You are not enough!”? The truth of the matter is that some people will say that, or ask that, or think that, or post it, or tweet it, or re-Gram it, or not “like” it. That is true. This is not a product of you not being enough for some people. It’s a product of being too much.
Sweet friends, what we need to remember is that bringing on everyone else’s insecurities and fears and jealousies is easy. It’s the easy way out of living our fullest lives. It’s the easy way not to put yourself out there. It’s the easy way to stay scared, and safe, and without others’ judgment.
[Tweet “You are fierce, and fierce never takes the easy road.” – Jessica Barrett]
You’re going to feel jealous from time to time. But, as we stare down jealousy green-eyes to green-eyes, we need to be ready to tell ourselves some absolute truths. One, it’s natural to feel jealous. Two, we can starve that monster in a hurry if we tell ourselves our real story. And if you are struggling with how to write your story, I’ll get you started: You are enough. You have a lot to offer your relationships, your community, your world. You are brave, you are strong, you are capable. You are created to be uniquely beautiful. You are good at (fill in the blank with 100 things). You love and are loved. You are more than enough.