5 Simple Ways to Stop Feeling Jealous

5 Simple Ways to Stop Feeling Jealous

Comparison is the thief of joy, and the root of jealousy. Why do we feel jealous? Where does it come from? And how the hell can I stop, because it’s taking over my life! Feeling jealous can wreak havoc on relationships, cause you distress, and take over your mind when it happens. In this post, we’ll go over why it happens, how it works, and five ways to cool it off.

Why do we feel jealous?

Jealousy is ultimately a comparison. In psychology, there is a theory called Social Comparison, which believes people create value in themselves based on the comparisons they make with others– both “upward” and “downward”. Jealousy focuses on “upward” comparisons, comparing ourselves to someone we perceive to be better than us.

Evolutionarily, comparison benefits us by showing us what we could be doing better. In the wild, animals may compare themselves to others to learn things like new mating dances, food preparation techniques, or fighting displays. (Yes, really.)

So we can see in psychology and evolution, there is a reason for us to compare ourselves to others. But why does the gross, jealous feeling creep in? The answer lies in how we make those comparisons.

How does feeling jealous work?

Think about the last time you felt jealous. Was it because your partner was hanging out with someone else? Was it because you saw someone on Tiktok show off their Bugatti? Was it because your friend just got a really amazing new job? 

No matter what the case was, the comparison you made was likely an unfair one, right? You don’t have all the information you need in order to make a fair comparison. Was your partner hanging out with someone else because he likes them more, or because they’re going through a tough time and need a friend, or because they share a certain hobby that you don’t enjoy? You don’t know. 

Did that person on Tiktok buy their Bugatti with their hard-earned money? Maybe. Did they pose with someone else’s car to pretend to show off? That is also possible. Do they have access to finances you don’t because they were born into generational wealth? Perhaps.

Did your friend get that new job because they’re better than you? Or did they get it because they sacrificed a lot of things to put in hundreds of applications, spend money to have their resume professionally assessed, and/or put in tens of free labor hours to build a portfolio?

Are you noticing a pattern? Jealousy comes from making comparisons between yourself and people you perceive to be “in your league,” where you are not able to meet the same expectation. It can almost feel like hopelessness sometimes, and it’s because you’re placing expectations on yourself that are impossible for you to reach in this moment.

How to stop feeling jealous

So we know why we make comparisons, why those comparisons lead to jealousy, and where that jealousy comes from. But that doesn’t really help us stop feeling that way. Here are five ways you can stop focusing so much on your jealousy, and spend more time focusing on you.

1. Notice when you feel jealous

This may seem obvious, and if you’ve been in therapy or done CBT work yourself, you may already know that noticing something is the first step to stopping it. But you have more work to do than just that. When you notice you’re feeling jealous, try to pinpoint what you’re jealous of, exactly. Money? Fame? Attention? These things are clues that will help you with the next step.

2. Set some goals

Now that you know some of the things you tend to feel jealous over, you can use those to set some goals. Do you tend to get jealous of dudes who lift crazy amounts of weight at the gym? You can be that guy. Make it a goal to lift X amount by the end of the year, and then work on those goals every week. 

Now, if you tend to get jealous in a romantic relationship, this may not work. That’s why we have the third option.

3. Re-think your “League”

As mentioned above, people tend to make comparisons between themselves and people they view as being in their league. But if someone isn’t actually in your league, that’s where the jealousy comes in.

For example, your partner is hanging out with his friends a lot, and you’re feeling jealous. But are his friends in the same league as you? Is he in a relationship with them? Does he show them his most vulnerable parts? If this doesn’t help, try having a conversation with him about it. Learning that he himself mentally places you in a different league than his friends may ease your jealousy.

4. Spend less time on social media

If we tend to compare ourselves to people in our league, then why am I getting jealous of someone on Instagram that I’ve never met, who has over a million followers? Surely they’re not in my league, right?

You’re right, but if you’re feeling jealous anyway, your brain may disagree. Social media has broken down the barriers between the average person and the famous person, leaving your brain, which normally wouldn’t be making these comparisons, extremely confused. If they’re not in your league, then why do you know what they had for breakfast? Or what they’re wearing to go get coffee today? These intimate moments create a parasocial relationship that is making you feel like you’re friends.

Think about it. Are you jealous of Heidi Klum? Or Kevin Bacon? Probably not, and it’s because you know nothing about them other than that they are very successful in their field. The more you know about a person, the more “in your league” your brain considers them. And social media will put every person on Earth in your league if you’re not careful!

5. Seek therapy

One of the interesting things about jealousy is that the worse we feel about ourselves, the more jealous we become. If you have severe depression, it makes sense that you would feel jealous of someone who can go about their day easily, without a care in the world. Low self-worth in general causes us to make more comparisons with others so that we can improve, but it’s really hard to improve without any support.

That’s where a therapist comes in. They can support you and help you through your self-doubt so that you can feel more confident in yourself and, over time, make fewer value judgments between yourself and others. They can also act as an objective third party, which can be insanely helpful for determining who is actually “in your league”. If you’re interested in learning more or speaking to a therapist, give us a call or shoot us an email. At Modern Era Counseling, our premiere counselors are here to give you a place to talk, think, and reflect on your journey so far, and working on jealousy is just the start.

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