Jealousy used to haunt me constantly: Even during my sex coach training.
I knew I treated my partner well and was great in bed. My partner even told me so on a regular basis. But no matter what he said, I found myself incredibly jealous of his previous partners. I knew he had no more desire for them and he was incredibly loyal to me, but it just the thought of them still drove me insane.
The feeling was so irrational! He obviously chose to not continue dating them for a reason, so what was there to be jealous of?
He is an amazing human being, so he was incredibly patient with me. But at the end of the day, I knew that this was a problem with me and not with him.
I did a deep-dive into the land of jealousy. What I found floored me.
There are countless unpleasant emotional experiences out there, but jealousy is a particularly bad one if you have a strong Judeo-Christian background. No matter what you currently believe, the commandment “Thou Shalt Not Covet” has wired you to feel guilt and shame of having this particular unpleasant feeling. You get to feel bad and then feel bad about feeling bad. Great.
In addition to being an additional dollop of emotional pain, this double-whammy keeps you pendulating back and forth between being jealous and feeling guilt and shame for feeling jealous. All of this spinning back and forth saps away the energy and clarity you need to find and heal the root of the issue.
We also have a cultural narrative that insecurity is a fundamental flaw and is the kiss of death for relationships. But that just creates a narrative that you must be insanely confident all the time no matter what the context, which is pretty toxic.
Periodic insecurity is totally ok and human. If you didn’t doubt yourself or your relationship at least sometimes, you’d probably have some type of chemical imbalance or personality disorder.
When you feel insecurity, it’s just a deep part of your heart asking for an extra portion of love and attention. Humans need love like plants need the sun. It’s ok to need a bit more sometimes.
However, you are ultimately responsible for meeting your own emotional needs. You can ask your partner to help you (see communication tips here), but it is impossible for them to love you the way you need to be loved 100% of the time. When it comes to getting the love you seek, the primary responsibility always lies with yourself.
When freed from the narratives of “jealousy is a sin” or “jealousy is unsexy”, it’s an incredibly useful emotion.
This is because it points straight to your deepest desires. Desire is another emotion with a lot of baggage around it, but at its core, it isn’t bad or greedy. It’s a beautiful arrow that points you in the direction of your deepest thriving. It is nothing more than the primordial urge to grow. Desire is the seed of action that holds the Universe together.
So how do you take the raw emotion of jealousy and transform it into an actionable understanding of your deepest desires? How do you use this uncomfortable feeling to benefit yourself?
Emotions come in layers. Layer after layer of thought and story and conditioning and trauma and more thought and more story…
Most times, you have to wade through many layers before you can find the core wound that is causing the jealousy.
Wading through these emotions is a process I call Emotion Mining. It is a simple process of
1. Allowing yourself to feel the emotion completely. (tears, punching pillows, screaming profanities at a wall, etc. are totally acceptable.
2. Ask yourself “what’s underneath that?”
3. Allow any thoughts, emotions, sensations, or memories to bubble up.
4. Feel the next thing completely.
5. Repeat until you find clarity. Once you find a deep desire that makes everything suddenly click like a lightbulb, your work is done.
For example, here was my process when I did some Emotion Mining of my jealousy over a particularly artsy ex of my partner:
First, I allowed myself to feel the jealousy completely. It was like a clawing, scratching sensation all over my body. I seethed with anger and let myself wallow in the irrational hate. After a few minutes when it felt like I’d let off some of the pressure around it, I asked myself, “What’s underneath that?”
A deep fear cropped up that my partner doesn’t really love me. I let myself feel it completely, even though it was like an explosion in my chest. After a few minutes, I asked myself again, “What’s underneath that?”
A feeling of unworthiness, of being fundamentally flawed and broken bubbled up. I let myself feel the shame completely, like bugs crawling on my skin. I let my body curl up into a little ball. After a few minutes, I asked myself again, “What’s underneath that? Why is she worthy and I’m not?”
I felt incredibly small as I visualized this artsy woman that I’ve never met. In my mind’s eye she was passionate, creative, and expressive in ways I could never be. I felt jealous in a whole new way. “What’s underneath that?”
Then I hit pay dirt. Regret for dropping out of art school in college filled my heart. I could feel my hands longing for paintbrushes, my nose longing for the smell of turpentine. At the core, my jealousy wasn’t about my partner and her at all.
It was a deep desire in my soul to start creating art again that I’d been shoving to the side for so long I could no longer feel it. It was a longing for the creativity that I’d abandoned for a more pragmatic career path.
The next day, I went to the store and bought a small, cheap set of art supplies. I spent an hour or two doodling. I didn’t make anything beautiful or brilliant, but that part of me was satisfied for the first time in a long time. My jealousy of my partner’s ex completely vanished.
By using this tool regularly, my relationships with both my partner and to jealousy are completely transformed. Now when jealousy pokes my heart with pain, I know it’s a signal that there is valuable insight into myself that is now available to discover.
By taking the time to really listen to jealousy, you have an enormous opportunity for growth. Listen to jealousy and her wisdom and you’ll always be taken toward wholeness and thriving.