The monster ... with green eyes
We often hear people talk about 'the green eyed monster' whilst referring to someone feeling jealous or feeling it ourselves.
It can seem, that some people simply do not ever feel jealous and of course that may be true. However, it may be that they have never experienced a situation/relationship that has felt 'threatened' before. A person that has always described themselves as non-jealous, can suddenly find themselves overwhelmed with destructive, irrational thoughts and emotions. They may find themselves saying things and acting in a manner that seems alien to their personality.
Jealousy, ultimately, comes about through FEAR. Fear of loss, fear of not being good enough, of change or rejection. Of course, this does not cover the whole of jealousy but if we try to understand what 'jealousy' is trying to say to us, we may have a better chance of understanding it, taking some control over it and dealing with it in a more positive way. In that, not only are you taking care of yourself when you are feeling very vulnerable and threatened by something/someone (FEAR) but equally, you take care of those around you. Those closest to you, who may possibly end up being hurt emotionally even physically through your jealous feelings. They may also begin to withdraw from you, as jealousy has a terrible way of breaking down positive communication in a relationship. Ironically, feelings of jealousy, can often result in creating the situation the person was initially fearful of. Finding themselves being rejected, abandoned, isolated and alone.
Left unchecked, jealousy can destroy, in the same way anger can. Both jealousy and anger can have many hidden emotions underneath but fear enters those emotions time and again. We have to ask ourselves, what are we fearful of?
If you find yourself feeling jealous, it can feel like one layer upon another, building and building until finally, it can explode. Equally, it can fester for a very long time internally, with the jealous person drip feeding a punishment on the other in a relationship or into a life situation because they are not facing the jealousy. On another important note, some people simply do not realise or recognise they are feeling jealous. They may have never experienced it before or they will not accept it because their logical mind will step in and quite reasonably explain that you have no reason to feel like this. Your partner is trustworthy. You are a lovely person, well liked with no need to feel this. You are intelligent and jealousy only happens to ‘out of control’ people etc. Unfortunately, we can't always think logically and jealousy can take us on a stomach churning ride, with us feeling we have no control over the off-button. It can be hell and turn us into that ... green eyed monster that no-one wants around.
For clients coming into therapy, it can often be a real eye opener when they discover, they are in fact, feeling jealous. Once that has been uncovered, in therapy, we can then go about gently peeling off the layers, to get to the vulnerable part, hidden within. This can be scary, challenging and leave us feeling even more vulnerable. It can kick up some more of those strong emotions of anger, frustration, sadness and fear. However, by having the courage to look at this and knowing you have the support of someone there who will help you to understand and see those emotions as messages, you can then develop a healthy response to them, learning how to take care of yourself in those moments.
Within therapy, you can also examine your relationships in a confidential setting, looking at them honestly and openly. What relationships/situations can stay in your life and what needs to change. Understanding that some relationships are unhealthy and you may even have a partner who wants to make you feel jealous/resentful/angry. Making informed decisions that are right for you. Ultimately, the more willing and honest we can be with our emotions, including jealousy, the more we learn about ourselves. In that, we can move forward, with less fear. We can develop the ability to manage that fear, when the unwelcome 'monster' turns up at our door.
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About Jayne Phillips
Jayne is a fully qualified, professional Integrative Psychotherapist and Counsellor. A Registered member of the BACP, working in private practice in the city of Bath.