Have you ever considered what your jealousy trying to accomplish? If you flip jealousy on it's head and think of it in the best possible way, could it be the solution?
Dr. Susan Heilter wrote about this in Psychology Today and it really changed the way I viewed my jealousy. This lead to a super cool exercise that I am sharing with you on today's episode. as well as what I discovered from it.
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[00:00:00] Shanenn Bryant:
There's just no other way to say it, jealousy sucks. And I know you do anything to not be jealous, but you just can't shake it. Obsessive thoughts, knots of anxiety in your stomach, disastrous nights out and even ruined relationships. I've been there. Welcome to jealousy junkie the podcast to help you go from that jealous and anxious feeling in your relationship to calm and confident.
[00:00:32] Shanenn Bryant:
My name is Shanenn Bryant. And as one of the few who focus on overcoming jealousy, I'll be right here to support you through the painful range of emotions. Tackle your jealous reactions and bring your sanity check questions to the table.
[00:00:51] Shanenn Bryant:
If you're having conversations with a trusted friend or with your partner, definitely the conversations that you're having in your head, my guess is you're saying something similar to "the problem is I'm so jealous" or "the only problem in our relationship is my jealousy", "jealousy is such a problem for me." But have you ever considered the thought that jealousy is the solution, not the problem?
[00:01:19] Shanenn Bryant:
Just hear me out. Jealousy's a very natural feeling and it's there for a reason. It's sort of nature's way of telling us or informing us, putting us on notice. And our body and our brain do this with many things. There's this amazing neuroscientist, Dr. Andrew Huberman, maybe you've heard of him.
[00:01:39] Shanenn Bryant:
He's got a great podcast called Huberman Lab. And when he is describing feelings, he uses two buckets, negotiable and non-negotiable. So, for example, he says that there are some things that we just agree on as humans. Like, if I put my hand on a hot stove, I'm gonna pull it off pretty quickly. It's hot. It burns. I don't like it. If you cut your finger, most of us would agree it probably hurts. We don't like it. These are non-negotiables.
[00:02:11] Shanenn Bryant:
But our feelings are based on early childhood and our past life experiences. And therefore, they're different or negotiable from person to person. It makes sense because for some people, jealousy is a fleeting thought or fleeting feeling.
[00:02:27] Shanenn Bryant:
They take notice, they process, they move on or they notice it, they handle their business if there's evidence of wrongdoing and they move on. But for us jealousy, junkies, it's of course anything but fleeting. It can be really debilitating at times, but just like the hot sensation, sending signals to your brain to remove your hand so it doesn't get burned, your jealousy is a signal for you. It's trying to solve a problem.
[00:02:54] Shanenn Bryant:
And I first read about this from Dr. Susan Heitler. She wrote it in psychology today, and it was such a great question and it said. If you look at your jealousy in the best possible light, what is the jealousy intended to accomplish?
[00:03:12] Shanenn Bryant:
And that really made me think, and hopefully it'll make you think too. What is that jealousy trying to accomplish? A lot of times we get stuck at that level one thinking, and we just respond to that question with well, I don't wanna lose them or I'm afraid of getting hurt. And yes, but that's just surface.
[00:03:34] Shanenn Bryant:
So why are we so afraid to lose them? Why are we so afraid of getting hurt? Why do we think that we are going to get hurt? And I get it. You might be thinking, well, obviously no one likes to get hurt and yes, that's understandable. But why do we have such a strong fear that we're going to get hurt? Why do we think that this relationship is the end all be all even though we've all been through probably several relationships we survived? Hopefully we learned something no matter who decided to end it, or, you know, what the circumstances were, and still came out on the other side, wanting to love somebody and wanting to be loved.
[00:04:17] Shanenn Bryant:
I'm not saying that we shouldn't value the relationship as not the end all be all, but if we do feel that strongly, then there must be something that our partner's doing to make us feel that way and feel like it is the end all be all and that we wanna keep it.
[00:04:31] Shanenn Bryant:
So, what are we bringing to the relationship that doesn't fit, that doesn't belong in the relationship, that's not needed? I'm not a psychiatrist or psychologist, a therapist, any of the ist's, but I have definitely walked in those shoes. And I still get a fleeting thought from time to time, but it usually requires a much bigger trigger and it's so much easier for me to deal with.
[00:04:57] Shanenn Bryant:
And that's because I finally had to sit down and figure out what my jealousy was trying to solve. There were a lot of moving parts that went into my recovery, I guess you could call it. But I started with my action habits. And so I listed out all of my jealous behaviors and I had to get really honest with myself.
[00:05:17] Shanenn Bryant:
Some were super easy and clear and I knew that I was doing. I was of course going through his phone on tracking location services. But I also had to get really aware of the, not so obvious behaviors, like the little comments and jabs that I would make. So, for example, it might have been something where he was trying to remind me of a situation or an event, and might have said, remember when we were at the mall and that lady fell? Something as simple as that, but if I didn't recall it right away, or I couldn't remember, I'd make a jab or a little comment and say, "oh, that must have been your other girlfriend." you know, "you must have been with your other girlfriend."
[00:05:57] Shanenn Bryant:
Or if he was just trying to tell me a story about his day and he kind of brushed over a piece or seemed vague about it, I would comment or ask, "oh, did you leave that part out on purpose?" Or "are you not telling me who was there specifically for a reason?" In all actuality, I mean, the, who wasn't important to the story, or he couldn't remember the specifics about something because it wasn't important to him.
[00:06:21] Shanenn Bryant:
It wasn't a part of the story that he felt like was important, so it didn't stick out in his mind. Those action habits required some additional thought and self-awareness about what I was actually doing and how often. I was really surprised about how often, especially with the jabs and the little comments.
[00:06:43] Shanenn Bryant:
And so it took me a couple weeks to really get what I felt like was a whole list together of those things that I was doing. Cause I was just kind of letting things play out naturally in our relationship and our daily routine. So as he would make a comment about work or try to tell me a story, and I didn't remember, I would track all of those.
[00:07:01] Shanenn Bryant:
So it took a little bit, but once I had my list together of my behavior or action habits, I went back to that question of "what am I trying to solve by doing them". And I went through each one, like line by line each one of them. And some of them had a similar answers, but I also uncovered some that were pretty surprising.
[00:07:25] Shanenn Bryant:
One of the big takeaways and I'm being completely vulnerable here, was that at times I'd make those snide comments as a way to get attention. Of course, pissing him off and irritating him with a flipped comment isn't really the type of attention that I wanted, but it was attention, nonetheless. It was a way of communicating to him that I wasn't feeling close or that I was scared that he was looking for someone else.
[00:07:54] Shanenn Bryant:
That didn't translate to him because it didn't even translate to me at the time. But the solution that I was trying to get was to simmer my anxious feeling that he wasn't giving me in the way that my constant seeking reassurance mind needed. Even though at the time, I feel like I was having conversations and saying, you know, I wish you would plan nice things for me sometimes, or I wish you would talk to me more or be romantic or cuddle more.
[00:08:23] Shanenn Bryant:
So when those things didn't happen enough, you know, as, as often as my anxious mind needed, I would force that attention by making those snide comments or hurtling accusations at him to get him to say or do those things that I wanted. But of course, it wasn't in the sweet kind, loving way that I was really seeking.
[00:08:46] Shanenn Bryant:
And so, it didn't feel right. It didn’t fulfill me. It didn't settle my mind cuz it's not the same thing as saying "I'm feeling like I need more reassurance about our relationship"
[00:09:00] Shanenn Bryant:
The decision to make the decision to finally take a really good look at what I was doing and how often I was doing it, as well as being really, really honest with myself about what I was trying to achieve from it was such a great starting point for me.
[00:09:16] Shanenn Bryant:
And I recently was reading an article where they interviewed Ryan Angold. He's a former Navy SEAL and they were talking about the three ways that seals use to make decisions. And I always pay attention to that kind of stuff, cuz let's face it. I think we can all agree that Navy SEALS are some of the brightest, resilient, most badass people on the planet.
[00:09:38] Shanenn Bryant:
And he said that one of the most important steps in making decisions is to know when to make the decision. So while you're not alone in your jealous behaviors and our thoughts are similar enough to bond us, every one of us has our own unique reason or problem that jealousy is trying to solve. And no matter who you are, if you put in the work, you're going to discover your own unique problem that that jealousy's trying to solve.
[00:10:09] Shanenn Bryant:
I've had people who schedule their free discovery call and I never hear from them and I'm okay with it. I understand that as jealousy junkies, we go through those lows and those highs. And when we're low, we know we need to reach out and work through what that jealousy is trying to solve for us. But then we convince ourselves that, oh, I'm just gonna lose a little bit of weight or dress sexier, or I'm gonna go into this weekend with total open mind and I'm not gonna get jealous.
[00:10:38] Shanenn Bryant:
And then something happens, and we fall right back into our jealous thoughts and our behaviors. And we continue this until we have finally had enough. There's this really great quote. And it says one day or day one, you decide. And I'm so thankful for deciding my day one.
[00:11:00] Shanenn Bryant:
When you're ready for your day one, just know that you are strong enough to conquer it. Jealousy's only a part of you. It's not who you are. And know that I'll be right here supporting you and cheering you on and reminding you, you're not alone.