Jealousy: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

Plus, a seven-step program for overcoming it

  • 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.
  • Keep repeating this exercise. If you're an extremely jealous person it will have little effect during the first few weeks. However, one month in, you'll notice a small improvement. Two months in, you'll see a significant change. Three months in, you're well on the road to living life as non-jealous people do. Please don't give up. Keep writing things down until you can do the exercise mentally, without needing the pen and paper. Once you've trained your mind to challenge silly thoughts with logic, it will start working through the process subconsciously and automatically. This is how "non-jealous" people's brains work. If there is legitimate reason to be jealous, the thought will filter through. So don't panic: You won't suddenly stop seeing real threats; you'll just stop seeing those that aren't.

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