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You know that feeling.
The feeling that creeps up when one of your children, after spending the weekend with your ex, tells you about the “new friend” at your ex’s house. Or when you hear about the trip your ex is taking to Europe while you’re struggling to make ends meet.
Truth is, you’re not alone when it comes to dealing with jealousy. Some of us know it all too well after a divorce or breakup. Through my experiences, I have learned two ugly truths about this emotion.
Jealousy is selfish.
Have you ever known someone in your life that was always “me, me, me” and never bothered to ask about your day, hopes, or dreams? Jealousy is like that person—the one who wants us to worry about something we have no control of (i.e. our exes’ new lives), distracting us from our purpose and mission in life.
Instead of focusing on ourselves, jealously is screaming, “Look at their wonderful lives and all the amazing things they are doing!”
What is the benefit of focusing our energy on what the other person is doing? What is the benefit of comparing our life to our ex’s life?
We already know the answer—being jealous is of no benefit. So why is it still something we can’t seem to shake while trying to move on from divorce?
Jealousy is lazy.
You know what’s easier than working on ourselves?
Sitting there, stewing over how much better our exes have it.
One of the many reasons jealousy brings out the worst in us because it leads us astray. We waste precious time being reactive about things beyond our control instead of focusing on the most important thing—ourselves.
It’s easier to say, “It should be me taking that vacation instead of my ex,” than to focus on our own finances, schedule, and actually planning a vacation that fits our lifestyle and budget.
It’s easier to say, “That jerk already has a new partner—it’s not fair!” than to take care of ourselves by learning how to get out of our own way, planning for the future, and getting our lives back on track.
See what I mean?
Jealousy saps us of energy we need to move on. It’s a lot easier to remain bitter over something we can’t control than it is to take responsibility for our own happiness and the work it takes to move ahead.
Here’s what we can do about it: Turn your jealousy into productivity.
The next time we’re feeling jealous about whatever an ex is doing, or anything going on in our lives for that matter, do the following:
1. Pinpoint exactly what is making you jealous and label these as your jealousy triggers.
“I heard from my son that his father is going to Europe in the fall with his new girlfriend, and I’m here having trouble paying rent. What the hell?”
2. Dig deeper. What exactly are you jealous of? List it, and be honest with yourself. Jealousy rarely has anything to do with the other person. It has everything to with what you’re doing and how you’re thinking about yourself. It is an emotion that has no power when you are being mindful and proactive with your own life.
“I am jealous because I am hurt. I feel hurt because we never did anything fun or adventurous or travel in our relationship and I feel left out. I am also jealous because I feel like financially, I cannot treat myself.
3. Ask yourself what you can do instead. How can you divert that energy you are spending being jealous into something actionable for you?
“My feelings are hurt and maybe I can’t fix that pain myself. The next time I am triggered, perhaps I can reach out to friends or family for support, or instead direct that energy into doing an activity that I like to do. As far as finances go…sure, I can’t go anywhere exotic right now, but I can start looking at my finances and budget, and maybe start planning a getaway or a nice trip for myself that is within my budget.
How about you? Do you struggle with jealousy? And what actions can you take to overcome it?