The green-eyed monster is a nasty beast, but one that can be kept in check with a little awareness, writes Grace Yu
Have you ever discovered yourself transforming into the green-eyed monster? No, not the Hulk, but rather the monster that is jealousy. It’s not a pretty sight. That mirror on the wall would never say you’re the most beautiful of all, that’s for sure.
Jealousy often hurts us literally as our hearts seem to burn with envy, but did you know that the pain felt during those moments in our lives is not psychological? In 2006, a Japanese research team discovered that the area of our brain that processes physical pain also processes mental pain. Thus, jealousy can sometimes feel like a punch in the stomach because of our brain and how it processes information.
After those moments of hurt and anger, there’s always that desire to take action and take revenge, drop everything and ruin the other person’s life, and we mean everything; recent findings have proven that jealousy tends to make us forget about what is important.
Two researchers in the University of Delaware conducted a study on heterosexual romantic couples and found that people tend to forget their assigned tasks and focus on their jealousy instead when an event occurred to stimulate jealousy. This may be due to a subject’s body reacting to jealousy in a similar way to how they process stress.
When we are stressed, just as when we are jealous, our heart rate increases, blood pressure goes up, the mind become fixated on solving the problem, and our senses become keener. The problem, according to Dr. Richard Smith, a psychology professor in the University of Kentucky, is, “If you’re an envious person, you have a hard time appreciating a lot of the good things that are out there, because you’re too busy worrying about how they reflect on the self.”
So, if jealousy is so bad for us, then why didn’t we evolve past it? You’d think evolution would do its job, but jealousy does not occur due to our desire to have something we cannot obtain, rather it exposes our fear of losing someone we consider valuable; it is not the same thing as envy. As social beings, we thrive on our relationships with other people and we fear losing that connection.
We fear that the people we find to be vital to our mental and physical survival in this world might leave us high and dry. Thus, we become jealous as method of protecting them and keep them from leaving us. Our actions, then, determine if our jealousy is channeled positively or negatively.
On one side of the spectrum, we could shower the apple of our eye with attention and offer them cookies and candy to prove to them how much better it is for them to stay with us. Or we could kick and scream at them asking ‘How could you do this to me?’ We’re more mature than that I’m sure.
So, as mature grown-ups, how do we let others live their lives how they want? Identifying the reason for your jealousy is a start. Are your feelings due to something that has happened or something you think happened?
If you think something has happened, why you feel this way? This could even be a similar situation to one experienced in the past, giving you a benchmark from which to deal with the jealousy. Feeling insecurity as a result of jealousy generally relates to a history of feeling like you could lose that special someone in your life.
Assessing whether the jealousy being experienced has a history that can be used to contextualise the situation could help you appreciate your feelings and take the reins. After knowing the cause, it becomes easier to recognize when you’re feeling jealous. So, every time the feeling bubbles up, take a break and just let it be. Don’t think about a solution or worry about the future. Think about if the feeling is rooted in anger or fear.
Accepting jealousy as a normal process that all people go through for whatever reason is crucial to eventually making peace with the situation that has warranted such an emotional reaction. This allows you to maintain the situation in the future and build trust between you and the other person, or end it.
If your jealousy is due to your fears, have a calm, honest discussion with the other person. Express your fears to them to see if there is validity in your fears. If not, keep it in mind each time your jealousy arises and decide if you want to continue believing them.
Jealousy can never be overcome by attacking someone else and accusing them of causing you pain and sorrow. Start with you. Question your thoughts. Isn’t this what college is for, to teach us to question everything, even ourselves?
Then, remember the Hulk. Bruce Banner eventually learned to keep his anger in check, thus keeping the green monster in check. We should take after Dr. Banner and learn control our feelings of jealousy. Only then can we save the world as we wish, without destroying it.