My jealousy is really ugly. Not a bit ugly, like unpleasant to look at, but really disgustingly ugly. It is dangerous too. It is covered in a contagious chemical that you can’t smell, taste, feel, see nor touch. It contaminates anyone that comes close to it by making small, insidious remarks about anyone it is jealous of. And sure enough, those around it start to look a little less positive on that person.
I need to protect others from it. I need to hide it and make sure it doesn’t see the light of day. It is too dangerous to even talk about.
True, I have more unpleasant feelings. Like anger, rage, sadness, loneliness, shame. But they all try to support a beautiful, precious, human need. Not always so skillful, and still: a beautiful, precious need. My anger and rage help me to take a stand for myself, to make sure I get respect. My sadness helps me to grief and to make positive changes in my life. Loneliness wants me to find connection, community, closeness. Shame, my dear friend shame, longs for acceptance, love, belonging. And Jealousy? Jealousy just wants to destroy, slash out, get rid of those people who get the resources I want, who get the care and appreciation I long for. The people who matter to my loved ones.
Wait a minute?
My jealousy actually tries to support a precious need? My need for care? For appreciation? To matter?
I could actually work with my jealousy, instead of against it? I could listen to it? I could try to understand the pain behind the jealousy? Maybe, baby, I could even ask it to help me formulate a request to relieve some of my suffering and meet my needs?
“Those with a coaching philosophy accept the expression of all feelings – including anger, sadness, and fear. In emotional situations, these family members often help one another solve problems and cope with difficult feelings.” (Gottman, J, The Relationship Cure, 2001, p. 145)
What if I take an emotion-coaching strategy with my Jealousy and empathize with it? Wouldn’t that change the whole situation?
You want to learn to coach your own unpleasant feelings? Contact me 512-589-0482 for a free discovery session to see how I can help.
She is quiet. Her eyes are closed. “I want to talk about my jealousy…. I feel shame around my jealousy…. As if there is something wrong with me…. It is hard to talk about it…. I am so afraid I will be rejected when people know about my jealousy….”
She looks down, her head slightly turned away.
“I feel jealous of you…. As soon as I saw you walk in, I felt this surge of jealousy overwhelm me…. Out of the blue…. It has nothing to do with you, I like you….”, she says with some sadness, “You just have something I want…. It is always about wanting something I don’t have….. I’m gonna be quiet now, I don’t want to get into stories, I’m gonna self-connect….”
After 50 seconds, “The way the group listened to you, with so much empathy, care, compassion. Ferociously protecting space for you to express yourself, to share your pain…..”
She looks at me. “It has nothing to do with you. I can be jealous of anyone who seems more successful, lovable, attractive than me.”
“My jealousy is harmful. I want other women to fail, to be less popular, less loved.”
She starts crying. “My jealousy is like a child with bloodshot eyes and a hot, iron rod in her hand, chasing other children to poke out their eyes.”
Tears roll down her cheek. “She is not the kind of child you would put up on stage. She is not the adorable five-year old in a tutu, doing a pirouette, who keeps twirling, till she finally loses balance and falls down, and when she gets back up, looks at her teacher with wide-open, blue eyes full of wonder about the next step…. My child wants to cripple that girl, harm her.”
She is quiet. “I understand that everyone is afraid of her and wants to get rid of her.”
She sobs. “Don’t take her away from me…. Don’t put her in an asylum.” She looks at me, “Please, form a circle around me, …. and let me learn how to be a good mother to my child. How to take care of her, surround her with love and compassion, hold her closely, and prevent her from harming others.”
Her breath is deeper and slower. I see a shimmer of peace on her face, her muscles relaxed. “Let me just practice the first Buddhist principle ‘Do no harm’. And then, maybe, I will learn to connect with her, understand her, support her, so that my jealousy can calm down.”
There is something amazing when you create a safe container of radical, unconditional acceptance of someone’s experience. People learn to accept themselves, look at their pain with compassion, and find their own solution from a place of empowerment.
You want help to hold your jealousy with care and compassion? Contact me for a free, discovery session. I would be delighted to help, 512-589-0482.