Jealousy: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

Plus, a seven-step program for overcoming it

Finally, you need to change your behavior and this is where we start the seven steps:

  • Every single time you have a jealous thought, write it down and rate how strongly you believe it on a scale from one to 10. Ex: My boyfriend is having an affair with a girl from work: Nine (I'm certain this is true).
  • Underneath the sentence, list all the reasons why you believe it is or isn't true, no matter how silly they sound. Ex: "He's working late a lot." "He wore his lucky pants to work."
  • Wait two minutes and dwell a bit longer on how upset and angry you feel. Deliberately stay in the "rage" state of mind a little while so every single one of those suspicious thoughts surfaces for you to write down.
  • Wait another two minutes, but now try to come out of the "rage" state and calm down. Breathe deeply, remind yourself of how you felt after the last jealous rage (unjustified). Then force yourself to challenge each and every point you've listed with a logical explanation. If you find this difficult, imagine your best friend is there with you. How might she challenge those thoughts? Write down the explanations even if you don't believe what you're writing. (He's working late because he wants a promotion. He wore his lucky pants because he had an important presentation.)
  • Read through what you've written, focusing on the logical explanations—and re-rate how strongly you now believe the initial thought is true. Accept that there's as much possibility the logical statements are true as it's possible your jealousy-inspired accusations are true.
  • Don't rejoin your partner until you've reduced your initial rating (example: nine) at least one point. Don't be alarmed if the minute you walk out of wherever you've been hiding, it all comes flooding back and you shoot back up to nine. Just congratulate yourself that you regained a small amount of control when normally you would have just stormed out without thinking.
  • If you still feel out of control, repeat the exercise or leave. Go back and go through the steps one more time. If it's not working, go home—with or without your partner—and try it again there.
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