At both individual meetings, and group sessions, the issue we have to work on is always understanding, discerning, and acknowledging the feelings. The responses I receive for the question, “How did you feel in that situation?”, from even those with vast vocabulary are the same: “Nope”, “Good”, “I felt good”. Three conventional sayings, lacking emotion at all.


 


Good news: It does not take long to understand, discern, and acknowledge such positively, or neutrally-loaded emotions, such as “I was happy, I was pleased, I was excited, I was surprised”. However, what matters is the rest: It is hard not only to say “I got angry, I was hurt, I got jealous, I hated, I repented”, but also to understand, discern, and acknowledge.


This month, I want to begin from the one among those, being most hardly acknowledged: GETTING JEALOUS


 


Getting jealous is such a strong feeling that triggers anxiety, fear, unhappiness, and anger simultaneously, therefore we may think we are suffering which overweighs most, and may easily regret jealousy. To make matters worse, there is such a negative burden over jealousy that, if we acknowledge and express it, this time we get embarrassed of feeling such an emotion.  Our most unwanted emotions, all the feelings we disown come from jealousy.


 


We get jealous the most in bilateral relations, when we see someone as a threat against ourselves. If he/she is more handsome/beautiful, more attractive, more successful, or more intelligent than me, I may not be chosen, but him/her. He/she may take a share from the love and care that I would like to enjoy solely. Besides, that he/she does not need to exist actually. Even the possibility of his/her existence is enough to bring about jealousy. In this sense, jealousy is definitely a method of protection, self-defense. For instance, by way of thinking about the possibility of the existence of another person in the life of my beloved one, I get jealous, and begin to make my mind up for this in advance. This will save me from coming across a bad surprise. If I step into the house everyday with the fear of finding a sign, and look for a hair on his/her clothes, a message in his/her cell phone, being abandoned, disillusioned, or cheated all of a sudden will thereafter not offend me that much. Feeling that I am not the one being abandoned, but the one abandoned, that he/she could not cheat on me, but I caught him/her doing so, I may then feel a bit stronger.


 


On the other hand, enduring a relationship may become difficult due to my own past. Establishing strong bonds, opening myself to someone, leaning on to someone, and bearing someone leaning on to me may not seem familiar. When my relationship gets better and better, and I come across with such acts of trust, I may therefore fear, and get anxious of swimming in foreign seas. Such a relationship becomes a burden for me. I begin to look for the familiar traces of my trustless relationships of the past in this new relationship of mine. Such a pursuit not only puts the relationship into a familiar form, but also eases my escape from the burden I have taken upon. I get jealous. I look for any sign for being cheated. I harass my partner with such a jealousy. I turn the relationship into blues. I thereby choose not to live a compellingly trustful relationship, but to gain a strong motivation for ending a trustless relationship, reminding me of my past relationships.


 


What I mean is that if I deeply feel an emotion, and act accordingly, there should by any means be a system that this serves to. If this emotion goes on sticking me to the negative system that I am in, it is time for me to stop, and ask myself “What do you serve for?” If I can ask this question, this means that I have not only sorted out knowing and understanding the emotion, but also managed to the second stage, called awareness.


 


I am aware of my emotion. Now what? How can I handle it? Next step after awareness is firstly the disembarking of the burdens from jealousy. I should come to know that, jealousy is not lack of confidence, or being a neurotic, but the part of a natural process, so that I should give its due. If what I have done by getting jealous was to protect my precious virtues of “love, commitment, togetherness”, does it really mean that I lack self-confidence, or am a neurotic?


 


It is time to express the emotion properly. It should be noted that, getting jealous and acting jealously are totally different. This is just like getting angry, and acting violently. Just as there are countless proper ways of expression when I get angry, there is equal number of proper ways of expression when I get jealous. Sometimes such a weird matching as “the one who loves is jealous” may act as an obstacle before these ways. By saying to myself that, if he/she is not jealous of me, it means that he/she does not really love me, I can display any harassment of jealousy in order to show my love to him/her.


 


What needs to be done actually is to focus on love, commitment, eagerness to be liked, and endless togetherness that lay behind jealousy, and act accordingly to express it. Expressing endearment to my partner, contemplating on not the surprises that protect me, but on those that would cheer the relationship up, acknowledging, and abandoning my disliked features in order to be liked…


 


It should also be noted that: Just like all other emotions, jealousy in fact gives hints on the person who feels, and bears it within. When I come across it, I should therefore start out by understanding what it means to say, what it protects me from, and what it serves for, and take the needful lesson from it, and use it for my own good thereafter.


 


 Derya Gülterler, MS.


Clinical Psychologist

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