Beware of Jealousy

In this week’s Success Newsletter, I would like to talk about jealousy, its dangers and how to overcome it.
Beware of Jealousy

First a quick update:

“Psychiatrist kills 13 people. Why?”

Major Nidal Malik Hassan gunned down 13 people and injured another 29 at Fort Hood. Major Hassan was a professional healer but he also needed counseling; he was a Muslim but he frequented a strip club and often discussed God with his Christian neighbor; he swore to protect his country but he was against the war and didn’t want to be deployed to fight. Why did Maj. Hassan commit this crime? Is it a clear act of terrorism, an act of a textbook mass murderer or a combination of the two? Read the transcript of the interview I gave explaining also his profile as a mass killer. Click here.

Now, let’s talk about jealousy and how to overcome it.

Jealousy can drive people to do bizarre, terrible and even dangerous and violent things. In the 2007 movie Atonement, set in 1935, 13-year-old Briony Tallis (played by Saoirse Ronan) is an aspiring writer with a vivid imagination. She has just finished writing a play book which she says is about “the complications of love.” Briony and her family live a life of wealth and privilege in their enormous estate. Robbie Turner (played by James McAvoy), is the educated son of the family’s housekeeper. He and Briony’s sister Cecilia (played by Keira Knightley) have a powerful attraction to each other. Briony has a crush on Robbie but he shrugs her off as nothing more than a young girl. One day Briony’s imagination is sparked when she witnesses something she doesn’t understand followed by a sexual embrace between Robbie and Cecilia.  Briony’s jealousy eventually turns to spite and she lies and accuses Robbie of a crime he did not commit, subsequently destroying his life.

Jealousy when acted upon has that power.

Just yesterday, a former astronaut pleaded guilty to attacking a romantic rival. Lisa Nowak, a Navy captain, pleaded guilty to felony burglary and misdemeanor battery.

Lisa Nowak (a married mother of three children) was overtaken by jealousy, obsession and other emotional problems when she drove 1,000 miles from Houston to Orlando to confront her romantic rival, Colleen Shipman, in a parking lot. Colleen Shipman had begun dating Lisa Nowak’s love interest, former space shuttle pilot Bill Oefelein.

Lisa Nowak disguised herself with a wig and followed Colleen Shipman to the parking lot and tried to get into her car, then attacked her with pepper spray. Shipman escaped. Later when police arrested Nowak, they found in her bag a steel mallet, a knife, a BB pistol, rubber tubing and several large garbage bags.

The prosecution believed that Lisa Nowak was intent on murdering her romantic adversary, Colleen Shipman.

So, what is jealousy and from where does it come?

The dictionary defines jealousy as “mental uneasiness from suspicion or fear of rivalry, unfaithfulness.” But jealousy can also be about resentment against a rival, a person enjoying success or advantage. Thus, jealousy can also take many forms such as envy, covetousness, resentment, protectiveness, suspicion, distrust.

Jealousy always comes from one place – fear; the fear that:

– You are not good enough

– Someone will abandon you

– You will never have something that someone else has

– You will never be able to have the experience that someone else has

– There is no hope

– You will be left behind, miss out or lose out

Jealousy, distrust and suspicion are like a disease that quickly destroys a relationship because they block intimacy and replace it with disconnection, resentment and sometimes even revenge.

Emma, a friend of mine from a long time ago told me once “oh, no. I don’t get jealous. I used to, but not anymore, I gave that up.”

I said to Emma, “Unless you are not human, I don’t believe you; we all experience jealousy and insecurity. Are you trying to convince me or yourself?”

It was few days before Christmas when Emma called me frantic, anxious and angry because she feared that her divorced father might be dating someone very young, close to the age of her elder sister.

I was shocked. “What are you really afraid about, given you don’t know the girl and have never met her?” I asked.

Suddenly her emotions took over and she blurted, “He’s going to replace us.”

Emma had never received love, affection and reassurance from her father, and she feared abandonment and rejection. Emma felt that her dad would stop loving her and her sister, and instead start loving this young girl. Now the jealousy and fear had turned into a selfish obsession; Emma didn’t care about whether or not her father might be happy; all Emma cared about was herself and the girl’s age. Emma was trying to control her father.

Men often express jealousy in the form of control and a power struggle. For example, a man will meet a woman who dresses sexy and as soon as he starts to date her or they begin a relationship, he will start to criticize, insult and even condemn her for wearing the same clothes that attracted him to her. He might even label her as a slut, completely unaware that what he is really feeling and what he cannot communicate to her is: “honey when you put on that dress, you look so gorgeous and sexy, that I fear you will attract all the attention of other men, and you will leave me, because I don’t feel secure or good enough for you; and the only way I know to respond is to try and control you!”

Men can also be territorial and possessive which automatically pushes them to try to control out of a fear of loss.

Fear, self-doubt, insecurity and the resulting anxiety can affect all of us. People are often shocked when I tell them that based on my work with clients, even celebrities and CEOs have insecurities and self-doubt.

World famous actor, Sir Anthony Hopkins has self-doubt.

Yes, the man that has been nominated six times for a Golden Globe award, four times for the Emmys and four times for the Academy Awards has self-doubt.

Sir Anthony Hopkins won an Oscar in 1992 and he admitted to writer and author, Lawrence Grobel, that “Getting the Oscar was a great moment for me. It changed my life because it knocked a lot of myself down inside of me – not crippling self-doubts but doubts that I wanted to be rid of.”

I teach that we need to unlearn all that we have learned i.e. everything that has created the doubt, fear and insecurity within us. Sir Anthony Hopkins refers to it as finding our true being, i.e. your core essence. Speaking about his experiences while working with students at UCLA, Hopkins reveals “What I find interesting about acting students is to see them actually opening up like oysters and helping them to find their true beings. We all have to wade through our own jungle of junk that we’ve inherited from our childhoods. I’m riddled with doubts all the time, and I had to work on myself, and I try to pass this on.”

The key to overcoming jealousy is to first deal with your own feelings and insecurities and then consider ways to approach the other person.

  1. Become aware that you are feeling jealous & insecure and; stop blaming the other person
  2. Ask yourself, “What am I afraid of?”
  3. Is the fear founded on something real or imaginary? If there is a real threat to the relationship, then discuss it openly with your partner
  4. Ask yourself, “Why do I feel that I am not good enough?”
  5. Can you truly control the situation? Take action to control only what you can – yourself and your communication with your partner; remember if your partner chooses to pursue action that threatens your relationship then his or her subconscious desire is to not be with you, and there is nothing you can do about that.
  6. Speak to your partner about your feelings but emphasize your feelings and not the desire to change or control the other person. Refer to the example above of the man and his girlfriend’s attire; start with “When you wear (or do or say)…I feel…”

The primary key to overcoming jealousy and resentment of other people’s success is to begin to appreciate and celebrate success – and other people’s success.

Yes, bless their success.

Celebrate it.

That way, the highly successful people will want to hang around you and it will rub off on you. If you can’t celebrate other people’s successes and triumphs, then it is most likely true that no one ever celebrated yours, and thus no one taught you to enjoy your success or that of other people. Begin now with small steps and congratulate and compliment others and soon, people will do the same back to you and you will be able to accept it. When you feel anxious or uncomfortable about people celebrating your success, step back, and simply breathe and relax your body. By repeating this process of relaxing your body, you reprogram your response and association with success and success becomes comfortable and acceptable.

If you would like to comment on this newsletter, visit my blog.   if you have received this newsletter as a forward and would like to receive all of my newsletters please enter your email address on the home page.

I wish you the best and remind you “Believe in yourself -You deserve the best!”

Patrick Wanis Ph.D.
Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert & Clinical Hypnotherapist

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3 replies
  1. Avatar
    alli says:

    This is another golden topic, as it’s very important yet not ever analyzed, as it’s on here. I’ve come to realize that mental fortitude (of course, after reading Patrick’s writings) is probably the most important characteristic one can work on and possess.

    I agree. It’s not having the emotion that’s bad, it’s what we do with it that distinguishes us. I do think though that if someone keeps feeling jealous of people, then they are deeply unhappy (miserable) with themselves and have to fix it. When we’re jealous of someone, it’s not that person’s problem, it’s ours. Socially, I find “jealous” friends to be very unattractive.

    My way of dealing with jealousy is to acknowledge it like mentioned here, and figure out why I feel that way. If it’s about an insecurity that I can fix, like needing to get a better job, then obviously I have to address that I got to find a better job or get into a new field.
    Then, I go through the realization that the world is full of people (women) who are better than me in all different dimensions. Then I remember to remember that I’m an individual creation of G-d, and no one has my special set of characteristics.

    This is something that each person can think and they’d be right because we all come with a special set of different qualities. It’s up to us to develop them. If we want to look better, it’s up to us to develop that. If we want to be smarter, it’s up to develop that too. But the point is, we’re given a one-of-a-kind combination of raw gifts to begin with. The fact that G-d created a person and put that particular person on earth already says that there is something special about him/her because there’s nobody else that can replace that person. If there were a perfect prototype of a person on earth – that is, the most beautiful, smartest, talented person – we’d all look and act like him/her.

    I can appreciate that the more secure a person is, the less likely they will fall into jealousy, desperation and other pitfalls. As for women being jealous of a guy being attracted to someone else, I think that’s happened to like everyone. As I’ve grown older, I’ve learned that if a guy isn’t attracted to me, why push it. Maybe he is meant to be with my friend or a girl I don’t particularly like. If you have to force it, then that’s not going to be a good relationship anyway.

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