Jealousy is an age-old concept and was even mentioned in the Bible where, depending on what version of it you are reading, it either compares it to a cancer or warns that it will rot your bones.
However, you can thank Shakespeare for the literary notion of it as a green-eyed monster. He first mentioned it in The Merchant of Venice (1596); and again in Othello (1604) but, the term has probably been around for a lot longer than that.
Jealousy occurs in all cultures around the world, regardless of their ideas on relationships.
Scientists have even identified the area of the brain responsibly for it – it’s the same part of the frontal lobe that detects real, physical pain, which is possibly why jealousy hurts so much.
As an emotion, however, it can twist you into so much more than a green-eyed monster. It can make you a ruthless tyrant, a tantrum-throwing child, a paranoid schemer and more.
Jealousy shouts and accuses, plots and sulks and clings and rejects in equal measure.
Jealousy then is a human being who is holding some very irrational beliefs about the relationship they are in.
Hardly surprising though, as love is not the most rational of emotions.
Most therapies make a distinction between healthy (or rational) and unhealthy (or irrational) jealousy. Both emotions are concerned with a possible threat to your relationship.
But, what’s the difference? After all, if you are in a relationship with someone you love and are concerned that they are paying too much attention to another, or that another is paying too much attention to them, is it not quite natural to be worried?
However, it’s how you view that worry and how you deal with it that matters.
Typically, the irrationally jealous think and act in ways that has their partners treading on eggshells. They feel insecure both about themselves and their relationship and see threats (usually imagined) to it everywhere.
They feel that things are forever teetering on the brink, hear sexual and romantic overtones in the most ordinary and everyday of conversations, vividly construct images of their partner’s cheating and will descend like the wrath of heaven if their other half should so much as admit to a passing attraction to someone else.
As a result, the unhealthily jealous often indulge in all sorts of wonderfully frantic behaviours: seeking constant reassurance that they are loved; assessing their partner’s every thought, feeling and behaviour; monitoring (and even restricting) their partner’s movements; looking for evidence of cheating and usually looking for it in places that (morally speaking) they should not be looking, to name but a few.
The healthily jealous, if you’ll pardon the pun, are a much more relaxed affair.
They tend not to see threats around each and every corner (or at each and every party), feel secure in both themselves and their relationships, do not misconstrue the ordinary conversations that their other half has, aren’t constructing vivid images of their loved ones with somebody else, and accept (albeit grudgingly, sometimes), that they do indeed find other people attractive.
As a result, the healthily jealous do not seek constant reassurance, do not assess their partner’s thoughts and feelings, and do not monitor or restrict their movements – in short, they free their partner up to be themselves.
Also, you can usually trust the healthily jealous person to not hack into your email account.
In short, healthy jealousy can help you to maintain your relationship, whilst unhealthy jealousy will rip it to pieces.
As a therapist, you will encounter many relationships problems that have their roots in jealousy.
That’s why we’ve developed this master class on how to help solve one of the most destructive emotions there is.
On it you will learn how to not only profile and help the jealous person, but also help those that suffer from their jealousy; you’ll discover how to separate unhealthy jealousy from healthy and learn the roles that anger, anxiety, depression and, even, envy can play. More importantly, you will learn how to help people re-forge a happy and harmonious relationship with the person they love the most. This master class is also open to those interested in personal development.
The green-eyed monster can never be slain, but it can be controlled.
You can find out more on www.cbttherapies.org.uk.