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How to tackle jealousy

IN THE last few days there have been lots of questions raised on why Pravin Mahajan killed his brother. The speculations range from anger to jealousy. So, can a less successful brother harbour jealousy that is strong enough to kill the more successful one?

india Updated: May 16, 2006 15:28 IST

IN THE last few days there have been lots of questions raised on why Pravin Mahajan killed his brother. The speculations range from anger to jealousy. So, can a less successful brother harbour jealousy that is strong enough to kill the more successful one?

Apparently, yes. Whatever be the truth in the Mahajan story, feelings of jealousy can make us behave in ways that can destroy relationships. In reality, jealousy is caused by a number of fears that have their roots in childhood.

What are these fears about?
1Fear of losing something important: Jealous people are often insecure, lack self-confidence, and have difficulty believing that somebody else can love them for themselves. This may stem from a childhood feeling of never having been unconditionally loved. All feelings of self-worth subsequently tend to be based on possessions, professional achievements, or physical attractiveness.

2 Fear of change: The subconscious irrational thought here is that change is always for the worst. This may stem from a childhood in which change or spontaneity were discouraged.

3 Fear of being alone: If you felt abandoned as a child, you may fear being alone and mistrust others. Relationships in which either one or both of the partners is possessively jealous often have this naïve notion that people within a relationship should love each other unconditionally, irrespective of their behaviour towards each other.

In some other cases there could be a master/slave mentality, where one partner regards the other as a possession or something owned rather than a free individual.

How to deal with it?
1Accept responsibility: It is no use continuously blaming another person. Do remember, nobody can make you jealous- you do it yourself by the way you think.

2Examine your feelings:  Yes, all of us feel jealous at times. But for people dealing with jealousy of a persistent kind it is important to connect the past with the present and try to discover the roots of your feelings. Now answer this simple question- What is this emotional overreaction about?

3Restrict your behaviour: If you must display jealousy then agree to show it for a period of 20 minutes only. Try to encourage the other person to be tough with you ( Sounds bad but ultimately helps)

4 Be independent: Dependent people can be worst specimens of jealousy. Take up a hobby or interest that does not involve other people. Learn to trust rather than control. List reasons why the person you are jealous about likes you (Look carefully and you would surely find why)

5 Challenge irrational thoughts: Most of the thinking we do while being jealous is ‘all-or-none thinking’ and we tend to ‘catastrophise’ situations (be objective and you will see the difference)

6 Just imagine life without jealousy: Ask yourself- would this solve most of your relationship problems? Does your jealousy actually serve as a distraction from other more important problems? (If yes, then have a second look at continuing to be jealous.

(The author is a psychologist and a professor of psychology at BSSS. He can be contacted at drvinaymishra@rediffmail.com)