How to overcome jealousy – is there an easy fix for this problem? It is never a nice feeling. Right? It’s a painful emotional ordeal. Who would want that experience? No one I guess. Is it a sin to feel jealous?
What if I tell you that even God is jealous? That’s pretty interesting. Imagine the all-knowing, all-seeing and all-powerful Almighty feeling such emotion! What can we learn about God and His jealousy?
We know only too well that life is short. So why drown ourselves in bitterness and sorrow? We should not let anything destroy our gift of life, opportunity or the journey. Let’s learn how to overcome jealousy. First, however, we need to find out more about this matter.
What is Jealousy?
Is it synonymous with “envy”? People use these two words interchangeably, believing their meaning is the same. But experts describe these two bitter emotions as two different emotions. They occur in separate parts of the brain.
Jealousy is a feeling that there is a vital need to protect possessions, when ownership is threatened or challenged.
Dr. Sanam Hafeez, a neuropsychologist, further expounds that jealousy is a reaction to the “threat of losing a meaningful relationship”.
Envy is a different emotion, a feeling of covetousness and dissatisfaction. It occurs when people become discontented with life. They start to look at what others have that they do not. This feeling becomes more intense as they watch and compare their circumstances with others.
Jealousy and the Brain
Insecurity starts in the brain. It affects the frontal lobe, the part of the brain that regulates emotions and social functioning. More specifically, it is the brain’s lateral septum that processes “social pain”, the experience of feeling slighted or hurt by others. This experience causes stress, resulting in a “fight or flight” response. This is why feelings of possessiveness towards another can result in anxiety or rejection.
Dr. Danielle Forshee, a psychologist and licensed clinical social worker, states, “Jealousy sparks something in your brain, causing it to switch to fight-or-flight mode.”
Effects of Jealousy on Health
The immediate effects of jealousy impact mental and physical well-being. The resulting symptoms include intense anxiety, difficulty concentrating, obsessive thoughts, increased heart rate, nausea and sweating.
What if jealousy is long lasting, pervasive or severe? The cause can be an underlying mental health problem. Some mental health issues and symptoms associated with jealousy include schizophrenia, paranoia, psychosis, attachment issues, anxiety and borderline personality disorder (BPD). Having said all this, we should learn the importance of knowing how to overcome jealousy.
Different Types of Jealousy
Did you know that there are at least three kinds of jealousy? Let’s discuss them one by one.
- REACTIVE – This occurs when a partner has actually deceived you. You become aware of their behaviour and begin to feel anxious or sad. For example, you discover your best friend has been hanging around with a new, fun-loving person.
- SUSPICIOUS – The clue to this includes feelings of insecurity and distrust. It may occur if you witness your partner flirting with someone else. You begin to doubt their commitment to you.
- DELUSIONAL – This takes precedence when either of the above emotions escalate to the point of obsession.
Which of the above emotions have you encountered? Have you ever experienced any of the types mentioned above? In that case, it is time to learn how to overcome jealousy lest it eats you up!
How to Know If You Are Jealous
It is said that jealousy is a natural emotion we experience when we need to protect what we already have. This is most particularly applicable to our relationships with others.
There are some warning signs to watch out for:
- Anger toward a person or situation that begins to interfere with something you care about.
- Resentment of a friend or partner when they can’t spend enough time with you.
- Difficulty in feeling pleased for a coworker who receives something you wanted.
- Indescribable feelings of dislike toward a new person in a loved one’s life. One example is when a father feels hostile toward his daughter’s fiancé and may even occur if her choice is a good one.
- Deep sadness or emotional distance when thinking about a partner, friend or loved one.
Yes, it is normal to feel some degree of jealousy. But it is also vital to get support when dealing with this strong emotion that can affect self-esteem, trust or control. It is best to communicate feelings or to learn by example from others. Let’s see how God overcomes jealousy.
Can God Be Jealous?
The Bible states that God is a jealous God. Interestingly, it is found within the Ten Commandments where it states, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me. You must not bow down to them or serve them . . . I the Lord your God am a jealous God.”
Again, jealousy is defined as being a feeling of protection towards something you already possess. In light of this, let’s talk about why God is jealous.
God created humans out of love. After the first human beings had sinned, He did not give up on them. He gave everything to restore the broken relationship. The Ten Commandments are an expression of His great love for humanity. It is so amazing to think that His love has never changed. Even after sin, even after our infidelity! He still loves us and is jealous whenever we worship other “gods”.
Is God's Jealousy Good for Us?
Think about this. In being jealous, God shows His love and forgiveness. He forgives our sins and is calling us to begin again. He wants us to be faithful in our relationship with Him. What a gracious and loving God He is !
Yes, He is always calling His people back to faithfulness to Him. In the book of Revelation in the Bible, this jealous God gives a last warning for people to return to true worship. It says, “Fear God, and give glory to Him; for the hour of judgment is come. And worship Him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.”
His love and grace are never-ending. He always forgives our unfaithfulness, but everything ends at the time of judgment. The warning is in the Bible. He keeps us informed of what is going to happen. In the end, we will have no excuse. Everyone will acknowledge and say that He is a loving and fair God.
Humans feel insecure when jealous. They tend to become angry and say hurtful things to others. Distrust and suspicion make the situation worse, resulting in withdrawal, separation and broken relationships.
The resulting hurt makes it hard to forgive and forget. It becomes difficult to restore relationships because past situations are always remembered. Trust, once broken, is hard to revive. In order to rebuild relationships, great love, compassion and understanding are required between the two parties
God’s jealousy has the opposite effect. When jealous, God reiterates His ownership and calls us back to Him. He does everything to reach His people. Whenever we ask for forgiveness, He is ready to forgive and also to forget. All that is required is for us to confess our sins and with His help to forsake them.
God’s way of overcoming jealousy may be difficult for us to follow. But it is possible to love as He does. Love conquers all. We should ask God to give us the ability to show compassion and grace towards other people.
Things to Ponder on How to Overcome Jealousy
Here are some critical points to learn from the above discussion:
- Do not let jealousy or envy destroy your happiness in life.
- Jealousy is different from envy.
- It is normal to be jealous because we want to protect our relationships. Even God is jealous. But we should not envy.
- Jealous feelings, when not controlled, may affect mental and physical health.
- We can identify the signs of jealousy and learn how to deal with it.
- God is jealous when we are unfaithful to Him but He always forgives and calls us to renew our relationship with Him. We should do the same with others.
- Our jealous God always communicates with us through the Bible.
- When we feel jealous, we should communicate, forgive and enhance our relationships.
- We will all face God’s judgment, so we should be faithful to Him.
It is a fact that we all feel jealous at one time or another. Instead of looking at the negative side of this emotion, let’s understand it. We should not deny this feeling. Instead, deal with it wisely and in the way that God deals with it.
Live a happy, jealousy-free life now!
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