“I wish I had a body like that.”
Jessica was surprised that she said those words out loud as she and her boyfriend Chris were out together on a lunch date. When she noticed the stunning and fit woman walking through the restaurant, Jessica felt envious. She looked down at her own body which, in her opinion, is lumpy, weird and ugly in comparison.
Chris didn’t even try to contradict or comfort Jessica. He’s heard her complaints and criticisms of how she looks too many times before. He’s given up trying to comfort her. Chris braced himself for another round of Jessica’s jealousy and envy.
THAT, Chris finds unattractive. Her insecurity is starting to wear on him.
Jealousy and envy creep up and come out into our thoughts, words and actions– sometimes when we least expect them to.
Do you fear that your partner will leave you for someone more attractive/successful/sexy/funny?
Are you envious of the “good luck,” passionate relationship, prosperous bank account, creative talents or amazingly fit body of friends, family or strangers?
This “duo of destruction” can wreak havoc and ruin your confidence and your relationship too. They can cause you to have a meltdown and accuse or even spy on your partner. Distance and conflict are the inevitable after-effects that can lead to breakup or divorce.
Trying to keep a relationship together when you are weighed down by habitual jealousy or envious thoughts is nearly impossible. You’re constantly bogged down by fears and worries as you wait for the one you love to betray you or leave because you don’t believe you have what someone else has– even if that’s not true.
Recognize jealousy and envy.
When you notice an uncomfortable thought like “I’m nowhere near as pretty as she is,” don’t ignore or push down your feelings. Denial won’t make the feelings or beliefs go away.
Instead, acknowledge them. It’s always easier to tend to destructive habits early, before they intensify and solidify. Even if you catch yourself in the middle of a sentence or taking action, catch yourself and pause. Don’t make yourself “wrong” or even “right” or “justified” for thinking and feeling this way. Just notice what’s real for you in the moment without judgment and without continuing down that habitual path.
Listen for the lessons.
Next, get curious. Thoughts like, ”I wish I had a body like that,” don’t just form from nothing. There is always a deeper story and set of beliefs and desires at work. Put-downs, criticisms and comparisons usually indicate places where you are possibly hurting, insecure or wanting a change.
Instead of merely brushing off your jealousy and envy– because it’s more comfortable to do so– take a second and deeper look at what your thoughts, words and actions are trying to tell you.
What is possibly unresolved and yet to heal from your past?
What is going on right now that is not in alignment with your values and goals?
What do you want to change about yourself or to experience differently?
What is (at least) one thing you can do to challenge your limiting beliefs and start to make a shift?
Really listen and learn from your jealousy and envy and then decide what your next move will be.
Talk about it.
This inner work is vital if you’re going to stop letting jealousy and envy take over your relationship and life. It’s also helpful to communicate with your partner about how you’re feeling and your process to make this important change.
Take ownership for your jealousy instead of blaming other people or past experiences. If there are things that you’d like your partner to do differently, create agreements and make sure you both feel good about the plan you’ve decided on.
The next time Jessica puts herself down in front of Chris, they both respond differently. Chris takes a deep breath and calms down. He doesn’t rush to tell Jessica how beautiful he thinks he thinks she is and he also doesn’t let his annoyance build. Jessica apologizes for her comment. She says to Chris, “I bet you’re tired of hearing me say things like that, aren’t you?” He laughs and agrees. Jessica tells Chris that she’s decided to work with a life coach to improve her self esteem and body image. They talk about some specific ways that Chris can support Jessica in the future when she gets jealous. Even though Jessica knows that jealousy and envy won’t magically vanish, she feels better about herself than before. She also feels closer to Chris and more hopeful about their relationship.
Relationship Coaches Susie and Otto Collins have been called the world’s leading experts on how to keep the spark alive forever in a relationship. Together they’re the authors of over a dozen books, audios and programs on relationships including Magic Relationship Words, No More Jealousy, Should You Stay or Should You Go? and Stop Talking on Eggshells. To get their free e-book “7 Jealousy-Stopping Secrets,” go to www.NoMoreJealousy.com