Jealousy. Just hearing the word has enough charge to create a physical response in the bodies of many people, mine included.
Jealousy can elicit many different reactions from the person who is feeling it, as well as from the person who the focus of said emotion might be focused on.
When I think about times when I have felt jealous, I want to crawl out of my skin with anxiousness. It gives me a feeling of tightness in my jaw, as if I’m holding something back and preparing for disappointment.
Jealousy is another one of those "four-letter words" not easily accepted by the general population, but is still a valid emotion that deserves its fair share of space.
When I think about the fear that comes with jealousy, I think about how, when it is directed at me, I might not be able to carry on with whatever it is I’m doing, which could also mean I might lose some part of my freedom if I give into the other person’s jealous feelings and insecurity.
If all of this is happening in the background of my mind (in other words, reacting to each other’s reactions without any consciousness), then empathy will definitely be taking a backseat to our communication in that moment.
Jealousy is defined as an emotion and typically refers to thoughts and feelings of insecurity, fear, concern and anxiety over an anticipated loss of status or something of great personal value, particularly in reference to a human connection. A loss of status, meaning the status of you as your partner’s most special person, is a valuable role to fear losing.
I’ve been able to pinpoint my experiences of jealousy as something I want but am not receiving, and then seeing the thing I want being given elsewhere.
Shame is attached to this feeling of wanting and not receiving and seeing someone else receiving it. If we can look underneath those feelings, it might have something to do with not being worthy of receiving our heart’s desire or our needs not mattering.
When I read the definitions of jealousy, the phrases “fear of loss” and “needs not mattering” really resonate with me. I can feel the connection of “needs not mattering” to a “fear of loss,” because if my needs do not really matter then I must not matter. That’s my storyline at least. Maybe it sounds familiar?
Perhaps the next time you feel this jealousy monster poking its head around the corner you will remember that empathizing with its existence (either in yourself or someone else) does not need to equal a loss of freedom or self-worth, or any of the other stories you carry around.
Niseema Emery is a certified intimacy and relationship coach in Powell River.