Once I was casually dating someone who chose another woman over me because she would rage with jealousy whenever she heard about me. He thought it meant she cared more.

I foresaw a high conflict relationship ahead for both of them (which I didn’t want) and wished them well!

What makes someone jealous? How can you free yourself from jealousy?

That’s our focus on day 2 of the “Letting Go for 365 Days” challenge. If jealousy is a problem for you, see if you can let that go for just one day.

Recognizing Jealousy

If you are going to free yourself from jealousy, you have to be able to recognize it when it shows up. Here are some telltale signs that you’re experiencing jealousy.

  • The emotion is preceded by something that makes you feel insecure, overlooked, small, less than, or forgotten.
  • Your body might respond with a stress response that elevates your heart rate, raises your blood pressure, and releases stress hormones. If it’s extreme enough, your vision gets distorted and don’t see things accurately or objectively. You may also lose your appetite.
  • You may respond on the inside with anxiety and questioning everything. You could doubt yourself or become suspicious. It’s common to read hidden meanings into every gesture, text, or word. Your imagination could go wild with possible humiliating outcomes. Anger typically erupts. Some people find ways to put down the “competition.”

Coping With Jealousy

If you want to cope effectively with something, you first have to know what you’re dealing with.

Jealousy is about insecurity. You feel possessive over someone or entitled to someone, and you feel it slipping away. You desire to hold on to them.

The underlying thought is something like, “What about me?” or “I’m not good enough.”

Here are some tips to help with the immediate issue.

  • Let go of your possession! People are sovereign. We do not own to each other. Everyone can choose to do what they want. This is a boundary issue. (If you have a monogamous understanding, you can certainly have a conversation about that however).
  • Lean into your feelings. Let yourself feel them. When you are feeling your feelings, you are less reactive.
  • Do the opposite of what you are feeling. If you feel like attacking the object of your jealousy, do something sincerely nice instead if you can. You will feel better for it.
  • Practice half smiling. This is a Mona Lisa smile with just a slight turn up at the corners of the mouth. The mind and body are connected, so if your body is saying, “I’m content, and maybe slightly amused” it will lift your mood.
  • Change your thoughts around what provoked the jealousy. Something as simple as, “His behavior is not about me” might help or “I’m just as __(pretty, smart, capable, etc.)___ as everyone else.”

All emotions have a positive purpose. Humans are social creatures. We need to belong. Jealousy alerts us that we may be separating from our source of safety or comfort. It urges us to come back into alignment.

If you respond to that underlying prompt in positive ways, you can use your jealousy to help you rather than harm you. Since jealousy has a positive purpose, we don’t necessarily have to get rid of jealousy. We only need to let go of the negative ways we respond to it.