By NANCY STEPHANI

Jealousy. The green-eyed monster. Just hearing the word can get your guard up, and perhaps it should. We are going to look at jealousy from two sides — when we feel jealous and, in next week’s article, how to handle life when someone else is jealous of you.

Jealousy at its root indicates a lack of self-esteem on the part of the person feeling jealous. The first step is to recognize that we are jealous and that it comes from something we need in our own self. We have to figure out how to be happy with the life we have. There will always be someone with more money, a better car, a thinner figure, a nicer house, a better job — fill in the blank. Being happy in our own skin and liking who we are lets us be free to enjoy others and the gifts that they have.

Start or end each day with a grateful journal — list three things that you are grateful for or that you like about yourself. Recognize situations that have led to jealousy in the past and avoid them, or at least rehearse them in your mind while giving yourself positive reminders of how awesome you are, because you are an awesome person!

If you have any doubts, make a list of all of your accomplishments. It can be as mundane as how many times you got up and went to work all the way to major milestones like a graduation or a birth. But you do so much more that is right and good than any little errors you may make. And the only things that are mistakes are actions that don’t help you learn to do something differently. I like to call them growing edges.

Jealousy happens in relationships. We are worried our partner is paying too much attention to someone else or might wander. While relationships have been discussed in other columns, we all know they take work to keep healthy and we need to be secure in our relationships in order to live a full life. I vividly recall a friend of my mother warning me of the young, single women where my husband was working a new job. My initial reaction was “anyone who can get him that easily can have him!” Not that I did not love my spouse very much, but we had been married for years, enjoyed being together and had two children at the time who we loved dearly. Why in the world would someone think he would turn his back on it all?

A very wise person once told me that you cannot love anyone else until you first love yourself and you learn to let go. So if you find yourself jealous of others, some time spent reflecting on YOUR gifts, talents and assets may be in order. I come back to the ABCs of Affirmation — make index cards that list a different letter of the alphabet with the phrase “I am” on it and then go through and make your list. “I am Able,” “I am Brave,” “I am Caring,” “I am Daring,” and so on. Then read them several times a day until they become a part of who you are and what you love about yourself.

Another personality trait to cultivate is curiosity. If you are really into acquiring a particular item, first do some research: Talk to others and find out more information. Whether it be money, clothing, a car, a home, or a job, it is important to do the homework and not focus on the person and emotion.

If you or someone you love is having a difficult time “getting over yourself,” as a grandmother once advised, consider seeking the help of a behavioral health professional to assist you in finding ways to get beyond the emotion of jealousy and on with the business of loving yourself and others while living a fuller life.

Stephani is a licensed independent social worker supervisor. If you have a mental health question, please write to: Mental Health Moment, The Courier, P.O. Box 609, Findlay 45839.

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