Unless you “walk on water”, you have probably been jealous of someone at some time. For some people, it may even be at the heart of their inability to fully experience love in a relationship.

Jealousy, unlike feelings of fear, anger, sadness and joy, is learned. It can be disarmed by starting with some basic understanding of its process.

Jealousy is a clear signal that we need or want something we do not have. It is most often associated with (or misinterpreted as) a fear of not getting that thing and anger that someone else seems to have it instead.

Living in an imperfect family we learn to believe that there is a scarcity of approval, love, satisfaction, and material resources. We learn to measure what we want by what someone else has (or we think they have). We try to hold on to, or control, whatever we have and take more whether we need it or not.

Our drive to control the uncontrollable can override our ability to examine our own needs and tastes and to figure out if certain resources are really in short supply at all.

As an exercise, take some time to think about what you would put into your life if you were starting over from scratch. Would you need and want the same things you think you do now? This exercise may take some practice to begin to surface your genuine needs and wants.

Jealousy will become a signal to you to tune in to yourself. Ask yourself whether the person you are jealous of is getting something you need or want (or think you “should” have). Get specific about what the item is and then start finding our how to get that need met yourself — possibly in a new way.

If you want time or attention from a special person, try two steps. First, ask for what you want. Negotiate for it instead of expecting the person to read your mind. If you get it, fine; nothing more is needed. If you don’t get it, at least you know that it is not available. You can free your resources to look elsewhere.

It is a common misconception that only attention (strokes) from one particular person will fill a particular need. Second, see if you can fill that need with strokes from other sources.

If you will practice asking, negotiating and persisting until you find someone who is willing to provide what you want, eventually your child self will be convinced that there are more than enough strokes to go around. You may even discover that the most important things in life are not scarce after all. Knowing that you can get what you need will reduce the number of times you feel jealous.

In the meantime, when you feel jealous, recognize that it is something you have been taught to feel. You don’t need to act on your jealous feelings. Instead, go through the steps mentioned here instead of kicking yourself for feeling the way you do.

Remind yourself that you are simply responding to old, erroneous messages. If you let yourself experience the feeling, it will subside much faster than if you try to stop it because it is “wrong”. Be gentle with yourself! Concentrate on figuring out how you can identify what you need and ask people who care about you to help you get it — whatever it is.

Excerpted from I Don’t Need Therapy, but Where Do I Turn for Answers?

[tags]Personal Growth, Relationships, Self Help,CoDependency, Emotional Problems[/tags]