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How to Overcome Your Struggle with Jealousy by Paying Attention to It Rather Than Ignoring It

Jealousy signals to us the nature of our true thoughts. Our jealousy is like receiving an important encoded message from our soul. To decode it, we may have to become more aware of our inner world (mainly our thought life) but its message to us is important

First, let's start by building a foundational definition so you and I are from the same page for what I am referring to when I am talking about jealousy. I would like to share my own personal definition of what I believe jealousy is and what it feels like in us and to us. I do realize that there are differences between envy and jealousy so this can get very technical and complex, so here is how I define it:

My definition of jealousy:

The sense that something very important to us is being threatened.

Not threatened in a physical sense, but rather, that "important something" is put at risk or feels vulnerable.

To take this out of the abstract, let me give you a few examples. A marriage can feel threatened. A promotion can feel threatened. A friendship can feel threatened. Most of us are familiar with the feeling of jealousy that arises when they do feel threatened.

The times in my life when I felt jealous, I have attempted to dismiss it as a negative emotion. I never tried to pay attention to it. My actual goal was to ignore it. I did not know how to get rid of it. I did not want to express it. Who wants to be known for being jealous? So, if I could not fix it and I did not want to express it, ignoring seemed to be the only logical option. It was the only option, until I learned to think about it a new way.

Why We Should Pay Attention to Our Jealousy

Previously, as I mentioned, that jealousy sends us important encoded messages. If we began to ask our jealousy questions, what would it say?

Emotions are signaling information to us and communicating with us all the time. They tell us what is going on inside of us at a soul-deep level. We often ignore them, but maybe we shouldn't. Emotions can feel uncomfortable. We don't know how to process them. We never spend enough time with them to get to know them and to figure out why they have truly come. Jealousy is no different.

If you take the time to listen to your jealousy, it will tell you two things. Message one: Something is important to you. Message two: It feels threatened.

And this friends, is useful information.

First, we must deal with the second message before the first message.

We need to determine whether something truly is threatened or if we just perceive there is a threat. Is it real or is it imagined? This one will require some self-awareness. Next, we need to determine whether is is appropriate for us to feel threatened.

An example of an appropriate time to feel jealous/threatened is a woman is texting your husband late at night.

Why? Likely, because in your marriage, you vowed to be exclusive to one another. Someone else threatens that. You have a right to try to protect your marriage.

In this case, jealousy could be signaling us to take sensible action. Set some boundaries of what is and is not appropriate within friendships with the opposite sex.

However, for example, it is not necessary to feel jealousy if a peer at work may be up for the same promotion as you. Yes, the jealousy might reveal to you that the promotion feels important and that it does feel threatened by the peer, but when it comes down to it, you are not entitled to a promotion. With that being the case, you can determine that the jealousy is not appropriate. You can give the jealousy up and think about the promotion in a better and more productive way that will bring you more peace and joy, otherwise, jealousy will truly make you miserable.

So, in example one, the jealousy is appropriate and legitimate, so take some action. Create a boundary. Have a hard conversation. Do something.

Even if the jealousy is not appropriate, here is why we should pay attention to it:

It reveals what we think is important. It reveals desire. It reveals longing. Often times, they are desires and longing that we had no idea existed. We have never given them a voice or words. We pass over them like we do a lot of things going on in our inner worlds. The nice thing about emotions though, they ask for our attention. We feel the emotion before we know the longing, desire, or thought that caused it. Simply put, it is easier to notice an emotion than it is to notice a desire. This friends, is why we should pay attention to jealousy.

Deciphering Jealousy's Message

It is necessary to keep in mind that our jealousy is communicating to us what we feel is important, but we should dig deep and not take every message presented to us at face value.

For example, you see another beautiful woman. You may feel that you do not compare to her beauty and begin to feel jealous.

If you apply my previous philosophy then you might conclude that being beautiful is important to you. It may be, but I would like to go a little deeper. It may not be her beauty that you are truly jealous of, but rather the husband, friends, or influence. What you truly want are those things even more than the beauty. That is why it is import to take that extra step. Taking the extra step allows you to take action toward what you truly want.

Saying Goodbye to Your Jealousy

So here is what you do: you pursue those things that matter in a healthy way. That is what the jealousy has always been about, right? It desires to help you get what you want. When you begin to take action then your jealousy is no longer necessary. It has completed its job. Personally, I am thankful for what my jealousy reveals about my boundaries or my priorities, but afterwards, I tell it, "Thank you, but you are no longer needed. I will be leaving you right here."

At the end of the day, we do not want to keep our jealousy. Jealousy is uncomfortable and when we indulge it, makes us feel miserable.

Here is the one thing your jealousy needs to know: you can get what you want in life without being pitted against others or needing to take it from them.

So, all of this to say, when jealousy first arrives pay attention and don't ignore it. Once you have paid attention to it and taken some action on its message, then overcome it. You don't want to live in it, but this is an unconventional approach to looking at your jealousy and I hope you find value in it.

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