Jealousy includes three people and the problem of exclusivity (I want you to myself). Whereas, envy is usually between two people and is directed at a quality, possession or skill (I want to have what you have).
Jealousy is one of the most unpleasant experiences one can ever have and yet we cannot get by without it since it is also an ability to perceive a threat to a relationship with potential to do something about it. We do not want to suffer from our feelings and yet we need them to help us read the signals that may indicate that there is something going wrong and needs to be addressed. Not having feelings of jealousy at all may be an indicator of pathology such as disconnection from the emotional life, repression of the feeling due to weak ego that is unable to bear the feeling or turning unpleasant feeling into pleasant in order to triumph over pain (case of people who enjoy sharing their partners).
Jealousy is a given and a part of a healthy emotional make up of any individual. At the age of 3, little person enters ‘Oedipal stage’ where recognition of the world and the importance of other people in it becomes possible. Little person becomes aware that other people in the family are also important to the main caregiver. The task of negotiating how to be three or more in a relationship begins with jealous feelings. It is during this stage that future pattern of handling jealous feelings gets imprinted. When the main caregiver is able to include all three people in the relationship equally and attend to the needs of each, such triangular relationship becomes bearable in the moment and in the future. It may happen that the main caregiver neglects the little person, who then learns that he or she is not as important and always loses in the triangular relationship. In such case, beliefs about the danger of the third and intense jealousy may develop and persist throughout life. At the root of jealousy there is fear of loss, rejection and pain of imagining oneself being excluded.
If you often experience feelings of jealousy and distrust, cognitive behavioural therapy will help you to establish whether these feelings are justified or whether it is an expression of personal difficulties with trust. Considered that your partner is not actively provoking jealous feelings it may be necessary to begin working towards alleviating your suffering from jealous feelings. You will learn various techniques to prepare for and deal with jealous feelings as they arise. With the help of cognitive behavioural therapy, you will be encouraged to work towards increasing your self-esteem, regulating your emotions, reducing tendency to compare oneself to others, confront underlying beliefs about yourself; the world and others as not trustworthy. With the help of psychoanalytical therapy, you will be able to identify deeper roots of your problem. Problems with trust often go back to early experiences of betrayal, abandonment and let down by caregiving figures. You will be invited to examine the way your family experiences or experiences in your past relationships may be influencing your present. Your psychotherapist will help you to learn to separate what belongs to the past and what belongs the present.
Trust requires two things – trustworthy person and ability to trust. Similarly to jealousy, it is important to firstly establish whether the person you would like to trust has demonstrated reliability, has intentions to be a good partner and is making steps towards that. It is unhealthy to ask of yourself to trust someone who is not behaving in a trustworthy manner. One way to check whether your partner is worthy of trust is to answer the question “What would you recommend a friend if she was in your situation?” Would you recommend to trust your partner or would you recommend to be careful? Do not over think, but see what comes to your mind immediately following the question, what sort of feeling or emotion, is there a strong “no”, doubt or strong “yes”.
Before your sessions begin take a moment to reflect on:
– Pros and cons of protecting yourself from danger of being hurt. Choose to believe in yourself. It is most probable that you have already survived some sort of betrayal and there is a high chance that you will again. It is generally the nature of human psychology that people try to live up to expectations when they are being trusted by someone.