ERP 422: How To Work Through Jealousy & Insecure Tendencies In Relationship — Shanenn Bryant

By Posted in - Podcast April 26th, 2024 0 Comments

Jealousy is a complex emotional response often triggered by feelings of insecurity and fear of loss, and can profoundly impact personal relationships. It typically arises when an individual perceives a threat to a valued relationship, whether the threat is real or imagined. This emotion can lead to behaviors aimed at preventing loss, such as excessive monitoring or controlling tendencies, yet these actions often exacerbate the fears driving the jealousy.

In this episode, we delve into pervasive issues surrounding jealousy, uncovering their origins rooted in individual past experiences and amplified by today’s social media-driven culture. The discussion offers valuable insights into the psychological patterns contributing to jealous behaviors. You’ll discover practical tips and methods for self-regulation, including breathing exercises and strategies for improving communication with partners. Emphasizing self-awareness and the conscious choice in responding to relationship stressors, this episode aims to transform approaches to trust and connection, empowering individuals to cultivate healthier, more secure emotional bonds.

Shanenn Bryant is the founder and CEO of Top Self, a self-development company offering coaching, courses, and community to those with feelings of low self-worth, insecurity, and jealousy in their relationship.

Using her instructional design certification Shanenn has developed many sales, systems, and development skills courses and delivered more than 400 training classes.

As a relationship confidence expert, and the host of the Top Self podcast, Shanenn has inspired thousands to break up with bogus beliefs, crack the control code, and overhaul their insecure habits.

In this Episode

05:41 Shannon Bryant’s mission to combat relationship insecurities.

08:51 Understanding the roots and impact of jealousy on relationships.

13:43 The interconnectedness of jealousy, anxiety, and insecurity, relating them to past experiences of relational trauma and insecure attachments.

26:01 The tendency to be attracted to unavailable partners as a means of avoiding self-reflection and confronting personal issues.

27:13 The role of technology in exacerbating jealousy and practical steps to address it.

34:37 Balancing trust and vigilance: Navigating the fine line in relationships.

37:51 Strategies for overcoming jealousy addiction.

41:03 The concept of jealousy as a symptom rather than the problem itself, emphasizing its role as a solution signaling underlying issues.

47:38 Coaching, resources, and trust-building programs for overcoming jealousy.

Your Check List of Actions to Take

  • Recognize and regulate emotions by focusing on physical sensations before responding to jealousy.
  • Utilize breathing exercises for emotional self-regulation during intense relationship situations.
  • Communicate openly with your partner, expressing feelings and concerns without criticism.
  • Foster vulnerability with your partner to strengthen support and trust in the relationship.
  • Reflect on and adjust personal behavior patterns that contribute to jealousy and insecurity.
  • Set clear boundaries against intrusive behaviors like monitoring your partner’s texts or social media.
  • Seek professional guidance or support groups to address underlying causes of jealousy and insecurity.
  • Practice trusting daily, consciously choosing trust in small interactions to enhance relationship stability.

Mentioned

Shifting Criticism For Connected Communication

Connect with Shanenn Bryant

Websites: topself.com

Instagram: instagram.com/topselfcoach

Podcast: topself.com/podcast — TOP SELF | Tips on Jealousy in Relationships, Anxiety, and Insecurity

Connect with Dr. Jessica Higgins

Facebook: facebook.com/EmpoweredRelationship 

Instagram: instagram.com/drjessicahiggins 

Podcast: drjessicahiggins.com/podcasts/

Pinterest: pinterest.com/EmpowerRelation 

LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/drjessicahiggins 

Twitter: @DrJessHiggins 

Website: drjessicahiggins.com  

Email: [email protected]

About Today’s Show

Shanenn, thank you for joining us.

Thanks, Jessica. I’m so excited to be here!

Me too. I love just this topic, because I think it’s something that is typically in the shadow a little; we don’t always want to admit it or acknowledge it, and it’s not always easy to talk about. I know that there’s more conversations happening with you and others. So grateful to have your voice here. And with the topic of jealousy, I’m curious if you’re willing to share a little bit about you, a little bit about how this became a focus for you? 

Oh, sure. I mean, if you would have told me eight years ago that I’d be helping other people overcome jealousy, I would say: Nope, don’t think so, no way! I was extremely jealous and insecure in my relationships for decades, and I just thought: This is just how I am, it’s my DNA. This is just how I’m made, and there’s nothing I can do about it. So it was a very hard thing to feel very hopeless, that there’s no way to fix this. I didn’t have any resources, I had no idea that there even was a fix. So that was sort of the other part. I kind of thought I was the only person that felt this way that was doing these things. So I didn’t know. As you said, because people don’t talk about it, I had no idea that there were so many other people that are really suffering from it. It’s got a lot of emotion behind it; there’s shame, there’s guilt, embarrassment, all of those come up. So one, people who are suffering from it are not talking about it a lot. Two, there’s not a tonne of research, like there is in other areas. So there’s not a lot of research and not a lot of people bringing solutions to people that are suffering from it. So thank you for giving this platform to be able to, hopefully, bring some comfort to someone. 

Great. Well, I love that you have your personal journey here. I think it’s always really helpful when one has done a level of their own personal work and has a deeper understanding of the experience, so that usually they’re a little bit better equipped in helping others. So thank you for acknowledging. Also, as you’re describing, is there a bit of a continuum as to perhaps someone who experiences jealousy, maybe some experience it in a great degree? Even the green monster, so to speak, it’s very intense. Then others have a tendency towards it, but perhaps it’s not as problematic or painful. Do you find that to be true? 

Oh, absolutely. 

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“I think jealousy itself is natural. Everyone is going to have a little tinge of jealousy from time to time, and that’s perfectly healthy and fine. It is when we get into this toxic, morbid jealousy, where it is something that is on people’s minds all day long.”

They’re constantly anxious. They’re sick to their stomach. They’re worried that their partner is going to cheat or leave them, or they’re not being truthful with them. That is something that really, I see people fall kind of in two buckets of where this comes from. One, they may have had some dysfunction growing up, and that leads to these behavioral characteristics as adults in their relationship. So maybe they had a parent who wasn’t really parenting, and now they’re looking to their partner for that reassurance, for being that role. We know that that doesn’t work very well. 

So, in my case, my father was an alcoholic. I grew up in a very violent and chaotic environment, and my parents divorced when I was 12. I told my dad at the time: As long as you’re drinking, I don’t want to have anything to do with you. I never imagined that he would have chosen alcohol over his daughter when I said it. But he did. I didn’t talk to him again until I was 25, and that was just briefly, and then not again until actually just these last three years, which unfortunately were the last three years of his life as well. So when you grow up, in my case, I told myself a story, and we all do that. Like, what does that mean to me when things like that happen, that you’re trying to deal with as a child? So for me, I made that mean that: Well, gosh, if my own dad doesn’t love me, who else would, who’s going to love me? I must not be worthy of love. So that jealousy would really later then sink in and the insecurity. So I ended up staying in a lot of relationships that I probably shouldn’t have been in, I stayed way too long. And then, potentially, ruined some with perfectly fine people, because of the jealousy. So, many come from that bucket. 

Then the second one is, they’ll say they don’t have any type of dysfunction in their background or anything like that. But maybe they have had the misfortune of being in a relationship with somebody who cheated on them, or a series of relationships where there was infidelity. So as we do, we go into protection mode. I don’t like that feeling, I don’t want to feel it again. Then it just becomes these insecure patterns that we get into and habits that we get into. 

Thank you for just giving us some scope here. So it sounds like you’re acknowledging that jealousy is a human emotion that everyone might feel a twinge of from time to time. If it’s something that someone is contending with on a more intense level or frequent level, then perhaps there might be some things that are operating, that one could get some support around. Things that you’re identifying here are perhaps some relational trauma, either in the relationship or past relationships, that inform this insecurity or anxiety, and also in the family environment growing up, those learnings. It wasn’t perhaps as safe or secure, that those dynamics were predictable, reliable, and safe. Is that right?

Yeah, absolutely. The jealousy can really get to a point where it’s affecting your health, when you’re anxious all the time, when your nervous system is just out of control. We know that stress does a lot of damage to our bodies. But then it also starts to affect your relationship and your partner. My husband, I always joke like, should he have left me be. Thank goodness he didn’t, and he stuck it out with me because he knew I was working on it. But he got to a point where it’s like: “Ah, I feel like I have to walk with my head down. I feel like I can’t even look around the world without you thinking that I’m doing something or getting upset or feeling insecure about it.” So when it starts to affect us in that way, that’s time where we’ve got to go, I have got to look at this. 

I wonder if, Shanenn, you would agree. Because as I’m hearing you describe here, it sounds as though you’re using jealousy, anxiety, and insecurity a little bit as a constellation. Is that right? 

Yes. 

Okay. Because, I mean, I’ll just say, I don’t know that I’ve experienced the extreme version of the jealousy. But I definitely have had a flavor, and I definitely can raise my hand with you that my family dynamics weren’t as predictable or consistent, and the circumstances and the capacity of my caregivers weren’t able to respond to me in a way that I always felt seen and safe and heard. So that insecure attachment, if you will, I had to relearn or learn for the first time and develop more secure functioning. I’m grateful to have someone that I’ve done that with and continue the journey with. 

Just a little anecdote. I don’t know if you’ve ever. So when my husband and I were doing our wedding weekend ceremony, we had all our family there. We had done the ceremony already; it was kind of an after-party. But we did a little bit of, it wasn’t quite a talent show, but it was like people sharing different things and gifts. One of our friends was from Germany. I think it’s a more popular game now. But basically, you have the couple sit back-to-back, the groom and the bride, so to speak, or whatever the partners are. And she had a list of statements. So we’re back-to-back. So for me, I had one of my husband’s shoes and one of my shoes, and he had one of mine. You’ve heard of this?

Yes, where you raised it whatever it was. 

Yes. So you have to basically say what you believe, and sometimes we were thinking the same, and other times we weren’t. Like, who’s cleaner, and who does more dishes? One of them was, who’s the more jealous one? I had to really think about it, and I was like: Oh, I am, I totally am. 

I’m raising my shoe, that’s me. 

Yeah, very, very slowly. So I can definitely appreciate. And what you’re describing, that this is a tendency to protect, or perhaps mitigate threats when the world hasn’t been super safe, that this is a way in which if we can mitigate. Is that right, can you say a little more there?

Yeah, the threat piece is definitely something. I’ll just use myself as an example, again. But we got to a point where we couldn’t go out to eat, we couldn’t go to movies, we couldn’t go to events. We would go to a restaurant, and just as we were in the waiting area, I would have already scanned the room for any potential threats, anyone that I thought he may think is attractive or that he may look at or any of those things. It was already to the point where I’m nervous about going in the first place, because I’m worried that this jealousy is going to come up. So then of course, we get there, and I’m looking for all the threats, so I’m on high-alert. Because now, my brain is focused on it coming true. So I’m watching him. So the minute he may look in the direction of one of those potential threats, that just was the trigger, and then here comes the reaction. So he could have just been looking around to see where the restroom was, or a painting on the wall. But because I’m looking at everything through that jealous lens in a way, I am seeing those things. So nobody was going to be able to convince me. You’re like: I saw what I saw, I saw him look at her. Sometimes I was wrong, and sometimes maybe he did. But the more important thing is, what am I making that mean about me? Like, why is that driving my life that I am bothered that he may look at someone who’s attractive?

Oh gosh, I’m feeling so much empathy right now. Because as you’re describing those, it’s both the interpretation that may or may not be true, to your point. But what you’re describing is a felt somatic nervous system lived experience that it actually is real. That’s so debilitating. The person that you love and you feel most connected to matters the most, and the threat, it’s constant.

Constant. No matter how much convincing or him trying to convince, or the partner trying to convince this person who is experiencing this type of jealousy, it’s really hard to calm that person down in those moments, or convince them that what they’re thinking is not real. You go into that fight or flight mode. So of course, we are experiencing it on all levels, as if this is really happening, no matter what the reality is. 

So it’s hard to function sometimes when one is contending with this constant threat, and mitigating, and then also experiencing. I mean, there are beautiful people everywhere; people that have great personalities or are attractive or charismatic. I mean, it’s almost an impossible thing to think that one is always going to come out on top as they rank or compare to others in any public or social situation. 

Well, yes. 

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“Social media doesn’t make it any easier. Years ago, we would only have to compete with our friends at school, and now it’s the entire world where we are competing and comparing ourselves, male and female. So that makes it even harder.”

But also yes, there is this false thought that if I’m not always number one, because I don’t know how to operate unless I have all the attention. If there’s anything negative that is said or thought about me, it’s debilitating. So that’s where that comes in that I’m never going to win as long as I’m thinking that way. It’s impossible.

It is impossible. Then also, as I’m hearing you describe this, it sounds as though, for what might happen if I don’t come out on top, whether or not for some. Is it true that some might go to a fear place or a wounding or an attachment wounding around: I’m not good enough, or you’re going to leave me, or fear of abandonment, or these type of things?

I mean, that’s what’s driving it. I’m worried that this person is going to leave me. I have that fear of abandonment. But what’s really driving it is, I’m not enough. I’m not good enough, I’m not enough, I’m not worthy of whatever it is. We don’t realize that that’s what it is. As we do, we spend a lot of time first blaming our partner. If you had not looked at her, or if you had not done that, or if you were more loving or more romantic, or whatever it is that we’ve come up with. So the first thing is, we really have to turn it on ourselves and get really aware, self-aware, and get that self-awareness, and take that accountability. That if this is something that you’re experiencing, to where it is debilitating for you, to where you are anxious on a daily basis, that is a You thing, no matter what the partner is doing. So maybe they are, maybe they’re not, that’s not really what we’re trying to answer. It’s like, why is this driving you?

Yes, I appreciate you acknowledging that for most, unless they’ve done a level of introspection and contemplation around these things, likely, they’re not fully conscious of these deeper fears and insecurities, attachment longings. So what you’re really directing the attention to is like, can we do a little bit of excavation here and unpack this and really come into greater contact with what is alive? 

Okay. So before we do that, I just want to wonder with you, if there’s anything you want to say about the partner that is in relationship with the one that is showing a lot of these jealous tendencies? Because I don’t know if you would agree, I wonder, it’s just part of my hypothesis here. At some point, people might be attracted to people that aren’t really fully available or are not all in or do have a wandering eye. Is that sometimes the case? And then other times, there are people who are really super solid and consistent and show up, and yet, they feel like they can never win? 

Yeah, there’s definitely both of those. I said in the beginning, I definitely had my fair share of relationships that I stayed way too long in, and that person was not treating me the way that I deserve to be treated. I didn’t feel like I deserve to be treated well, so that was sort of the expectation. It was not okay, but that’s what I put up with because I thought that that’s what I deserved. And as you may know, of course the anxious attached person loves the avoidant person. Those two, for whatever reason, it’s not my specialty, but they just are so drawn to each other, which then of course fuels the fire. Because if I’m the anxious person, I want your reassurance constantly. I’m like: Do you still love me? Are you still attracted to me? Do you still find me attractive? Those are the things I’m constantly needing that reassurance from my partner, and that avoidant partner is like: Oh my goodness, I can’t handle this. So then they back away, which makes me, the anxious one, even more anxious. So we definitely fall into those patterns. 

Free Couple in Dress and Shirt Standing and Hugging Stock Photo

“When you don’t know your worth, and you have those stories that you’re telling yourself, you will settle. Because you’re in that scarcity, so you will settle for someone who doesn’t treat you well.”

Then you also have, like in my case, where I ended up with someone, thankfully, who has a very secure person, who then is less likely to deal with my antics for far too long. Like I said, he put up with it for quite some time. But a lot of times, someone might not and say: I can’t handle this, I don’t want to live my life being controlled this way.

Is that sometimes what brings someone into wanting to look at themselves more deeply, is getting that feedback?

99.9% of my clients come to me because their partner said: “If this keeps up, I’m done. I cannot do this anymore,” which it’s great that they’re getting help, but it’s sad. Because experiencing it, when you’re constantly checking someone’s phone and their email and their text message, and you’re looking them up on location services, and you’re worried about other threats, that is a miserable way to lead life. But they’re doing it. So they’re not getting help for themselves, they’re getting help when they feel like they’re losing that partner. So I just encourage people, if you’re feeling that way, let’s get a handle on it before your partner says: “I can’t do this anymore, we’ve experienced this for the last time.”

Yes. Well, pain is a huge motivator, and we know that as humans, sometimes we don’t take action until it’s painful enough. And unfortunately, sometimes when someone does raise their hand and say I can’t do this, they’ve actually already left the relationship. So sometimes we don’t even get that opportunity to work or repair. So I hear you, and I mean, just even from one’s health, as you said, the state of one’s nervous system, living life from this hyper-vigilance is exhausting and taxing. 

I want to comment, just before we pivot to the person and what we can do about this tendency. In my experience, having been in relationship with people who weren’t as available, it was actually scarier to be in relationship with someone who was present and engaged. Because it’s like, oh, I have good reason. Like, if whatever the circumstances were and I was right, I’m validated, and then I don’t have to actually look at myself as much. Is that right?

Oh, for sure. A lot of times, being the jealous person, that’s why you’re trying to stick that blame on the partner, and you’re really monitoring them. It’s also part of why you’re doing it. Like, I’m going to monitor my partner and pick out all their flaws and tell them how they should behave, and remind them how they should behave in a relationship. Because as long as I’m doing that, then I don’t have to look at this stuff that’s really probably hurting, and the real pain in that person. So as long as I have somebody else to monitor, it doesn’t have to be me. 

Thank you for speaking about that. You mentioned something just a moment ago that I am like, wow, this sounds like a whole other level, which is technology. I think that plays a huge role in the accessibility to be watching someone.

To be obsessed, yeah. Because I joke about it now, and I think it’s part of how you get through things, or at least how I get through things. But it was very serious at the time. I mean, I looked my husband up like it was a job. It was constant all day long. We’ll talk about one of the things, if it’s okay to move into that, just a little bit of what we can do, is we have to look at those things. So where I start with someone is to say, let’s look at the Think, Do, Say. So what are the things that you’re thinking on a daily basis, what is the most repeated thing? Whether it’s something that you’re telling yourself, whether it’s something that you think about the relationship, whether it’s I’m worried about my partner, whatever that is. But let’s start tracking that, let’s write it down and really see it. Because for all of these, for Think, Do, Say, it’s like we kind of know. I mean, I know I’ve got negative thoughts, and I know I’m thinking this a lot. But let’s look at how much of it we’re doing. Then when we come to the Say part, what are the things we’re saying to our partner that is ruining the relationship, that’s telling them I don’t trust you? 

So for me, an example. Let’s say my husband was trying to remind me have something that happened, and he’d say, remember a couple years ago when we went to whatever? And I always had a jab, something like: Oh, that must have been your girlfriend that you did that with. But these little jabs that we say to our partner, that if you just hear the sentence, it doesn’t sound too bad. But I’m telling him, I don’t trust you, and that’s my little kind of reminder that: Hey, I’m going to say it again, like this could be a possibility, I don’t trust you. So what are we saying to them and how often are we saying it? Because I was saying it a lot more than I thought that I was. So that’s Say. 

Then the Do is what we were talking about. So looking at my phone location services, social media, text messages, email. I’m seeing who’s liking things, whose things are they liking, all of it. Social media is really tough for someone who is struggling with jealousy. So in my case, it was the location, and that was a huge one for me. Just constantly looking at him to see is he where he said he was, is he where he’s supposed to be? 

So what I recommend, if somebody just wants to start on their own, like, how can I get a little bit of relief? Go to the Do. So those are all the Do’s. Once you have the whole list of these are all the Do’s and the things that I’m doing in this relationship, then pick one. Just one. People love to go, I’m going to stop all these. No, just the one, and the one that you think is easiest for you to let go of. That’s the one that’s like: Okay, not today, I can’t do that one. I can do all the 27 other things, whatever you’re doing. But I can’t do that one. And what people find is, oh my gosh, it’s a little bit of relief. I didn’t have that upset stomach 10 times today, from that one thing. I may have done all my other things, but it was a little bit of relief. Then you get a little bit of a win, because it’s like: Okay, I can do that. I can stop looking at location services, or I can stop looking at their text messages, or whatever it is that they choose. So just start small, and see how that feels. Because the best way to trust someone is to trust someone, so we have to start doing that.

I was thinking that. Thank you for saying that. That when those privacy or boundaries or that personal space isn’t respected. I know every couple has their own way of what is privacy and what is personal space. But we’re not in the action or the engaging of trusting as a verb, like in the action of it. We’re not actually growing or even participating in that.

Yeah. I mean, if somebody looked at my phone or my text messages, gosh, depending on who it was and the person looking, you could interpret things in so many different ways. Like, what does that emoji mean, or how did you mean that sentence? Or how did they mean it, or why did they text here? So even that can start a whole nother spiral of non-trust. So now I have a tonne of questions about what I just looked at, and I’m even more miserable now. 

Wow, I’m just getting, again, a sense of how pervasive this is. Because if people have access to one another’s emails or their phones or social media, as you said, it’s like, who are they liking, and who are they following, and who are they commenting? I mean, that is just deep around all the different interactions. 

Look, I think this is true, that even if our partner had full transparency and we have access to everything, we still do not, with every attempt and all the time and energy, let’s just say, we still do not know their inner world and cannot monitor. I mean, they are their person, they have their own agency, they’re going to think and feel the way they feel. There’s no way, even if we tried, even if they wanted to give access to everything, there’s no way to be inside someone else’s experience.

No. Here’s I think the biggest thing is we’re trying to prove fidelity. You can’t prove that. So if what I really want is true, what I really want is I want a partner who’s faithful to me, who loves me, who cares about me, who’s not doing these things behind my back, then I’m never going to see proof of that on their phone or their social media. 

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“I get that people are looking to see if there’s something. But where we get in the habit, and this is true for jealousy sufferers, is because you’re not finding that. So then you say: Oh, I’ve got to look more, or I’ve got to look more places, or they’re good at hiding it.”

So you’re never going to find it if what you want is true, because it’s not there. So you would check forever, which is kind of how we end up here, because we keep checking.

Right. It becomes, like you said, an obsession, or it becomes so compulsive around compelling and almost like a job of monitoring, I just imagine. I don’t know this well, but I just am empathizing. The other thing I’m wondering, and this I do know, is it’s an incredible risk, it’s implied what we’re describing, to love someone and not have the guarantee, and to be taking a risk on someone to develop trust and fidelity. Like, do you want to say anything about that?

Well, I think what’s interesting is, the very person that we are doing all of this and saying negative things to them, showing them that we don’t trust them, potentially getting into arguments with them over things that may not even be reality, because our brain is trying to prove us right, are the same people that most of the time are beneficiaries on our 401(k) or our life insurance policies, these things. So it’s like we trust them, but we don’t trust them on this daily basis. So even if you look at it in that sense, it’s like, you can see the confusion. That’s when you know this is a fear thing, this is in me. A lot of people will say: “I don’t think they’re out there looking for things. I just don’t want it to accidentally happen.” So it’s kind of like they trust that they’re not cheating, but just in case. 

Okay, so that’s interesting. Because I don’t know that I’ve ever bought into this, but I do believe it exists. I’m going to name it, and help me if it’s true or you think it’s true. It’s almost as if sometimes people think it’s their job, like this is a responsibility, that if you’re not checking or monitoring. Is that right? You’re nodding.

Yes, and that kind of goes back to what I was saying. If I’m monitoring someone else, if I’m checking someone else, then I do not have to address the Me stuff. So yes, they feel as if in some way they own that partner, or that partner should always reassure them, that partner should always make them feel better. That is a parent, and that’s partly why that person maybe didn’t get that from their parent. Those relationships are very different relationships, and your partner, that’s not their job to reassure you.

Right, and that’s not the arrangement. That I own you, or that you’re obligated to disclose every single thing. 

I was just going to say, I hear some people, I get that feedback a lot. Like, don’t tell me not to look at stuff, I’m going to look. Because this is my life, and I’m going to protect my life. Okay, I get that. Sure, fair enough. What I’m talking about is when it gets in these insecure habits that we’re doing, and it’s this daily basis, where it’s making you sick and it’s making your partner miserable. 

Okay. So you’re describing, I know there’s probably many ways in which you support people working through this experience of jealousy. You’re saying there’s the deeper work of understanding what’s underlying, view of self, view of other, just those kind of attachment styles or tendencies. And you’re also saying, coming at it from a behavioral standpoint, around what is it that I am thinking, what’s the narrative that I’m perpetuating every day? What is it that I am saying? What am I saying to my partner? Can I look at that and really take an honest look and track it? You’re saying let’s just do some inventory here. Then thirdly, you’re saying what is it that I’m doing? If I get really, really honest, a well-lit room with all the people that I care most about, can I stand and say: This is what I do, this is what I think, this is what I say?

Right. Going back to why this doesn’t get talked about, there’s shame, there’s embarrassment behind it, and there’s the heart, a reason why. We can go before when I would go to look up location services, but even before I was doing it, when I knew I’m going to go and look, I already didn’t feel good. Already, my stomach was hurting, it didn’t feel good. It just feels bad, so you know that that’s not a healthy habit that you’re in.

I’m almost getting a sense that this could even be addictive. Because as you’re describing, for maybe someone who struggles with gaming or porn or some substance or even emotional eating, they can feel the draw and being compelled, and they know that that’s not going to necessarily be the healthy option. You’re nodding.

Yeah, my Facebook group is called Jealousy Junkies, and that’s why. Because I do, as bad as it sounds, compare it to a drug addiction. Because it’s like, we get that urge, we need that reassurance. So whether that’s through questioning my partner, whether that’s looking at their phone and let me go figure out. But I’ve got to get reassurance somehow, I have to have it. So then I get the reassurance, whether my partner is like: Yes, I still love you, or no, I don’t think that the new co-worker is attractive, or I’ve looked at the phone and they are where they said they were going to be. I feel better for a moment, for-short term, and then I need it again. So that just vicious cycle of like, I need that fix again, and it’s only going to last for a very short time, and then I need it again, which I’m sure you can imagine, for the partner, is exhausting. For the person who is jealous, it’s exhausting.

Yeah, so there’s like almost a dopamine hit or a reward that’s built in short-term. But the long-term is that it’s not satiated, and that the need is going to be there again very soon.

So what else would you like to say around what perhaps someone could do to begin to shift out of this tendency? I know one thing you mentioned that I think some people might get curious about is, jealousy is a solution and not a problem. Can you say a little more about that? 

Yeah. So I hear all the time, people will say: “Oh, I have such a problem with jealousy, or jealousy is such a problem in my relationship.” Jealousy is not the problem. Jealousy is a symptom. So jealousy is a solution. It’s there, like if it were kind of tapping, like: “Jessica, hey, there’s something going on, you need to go look at it.” So I really feel like it is the solution for you to go: Oh okay, this is something. So that’s why I say jealousy is not the problem, it’s a solution. 

So there are a couple things to look at. 

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“Sometimes it’s projection, like we’re projecting either our own behaviors. I know people don’t want to admit this, but like, well, maybe you’re a little too flirty with the guy in accounting, or maybe you have had some indiscretions yourself. Then it makes you nervous, because you know, well, if I can do it and I can get away with it, is my partner doing these things?”

So sometimes it’s projection. It can also be projection in the sense of I’ve had this happen to me before by my previous partner. But that kind of goes more into that protection part. So protection and projection are two things that I would say, maybe look at which of the two it is. Or sometimes, maybe you’ve got both of those things. 

But the idea, and I’ll leave with this, the idea of where you really want to get to is, between the trigger and your reaction, there is that space there. There is space, even when you’re in this jealousy. Because I hear it all the time: “I feel like I’m just out of control, and I can’t stop myself, and I just explode.” There’s some truth to that, where we have to get to like, can we lengthen that space between the trigger and your response? So there’s breathing exercises, there’s some other things that you can do to help in those moments when you are feeling jealous. So let’s lengthen that space, and then shorten the gap of recovery, whether that’s recovery between you and your partner because you were in an argument, or just because I’m feeling guilty and I’m feeling bad for either the things I said or I did, or that this jealousy is still here. Like, we have to have some grace with ourselves as well.

Well, I appreciate just you giving some scope to this, in that there’s a process, and being able to slow it down to give people some room. It’s sounding as though, which I know to be true in many areas in psychology, that there’s a good reason why we do what we do. At one point, it made sense, or it was an adaptive response, and perhaps it’s got a lot of side effects in current day. So it’s difficult to just eliminate without replacing. So if we can slow it down and look at: Okay, this was a move that made sense, and now I’m wanting to practice new moves. So you’re saying if we can slow it down, we can have more opportunity to practice new things, that can really assist.

Yeah. 

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“If we can slow it down just a bit, then you can see where there’s choice in it. It doesn’t feel like choice when you’re so geared up and you’re just unleashing. That doesn’t feel like choice. But there is choice there.”

There’s still room where there’s choice, and that’s where we have to go: Oh okay, there was an opportunity for me, as you said, to see can I replace this and do something different in this moment? Just play around with it even. Even if it’s like, I’m going to excuse myself for three minutes. That’s why I say breathing exercises, because you always have your breath with you, you can do that anywhere; you can do it sitting at the table at the restaurant, or you can do it in the bathroom for a minute, splashing water on your face. Even that though, no matter what, is going to be different than if you would have just kept going. So I have a choice here even if I do something different. The outcome may not be as beautiful as I want it still, but it can be different. So then just doing those mini, like let me see what else I have choice to change here. 

Oh, there’s so many more things I want to say. I know we’re winding down. I just can imagine the trajectory of this, that as one starts to practice, they’re going to feel something different, to your point, whether or not it’s being able to have a little more stability in themselves and hold themselves, not self-abandoned. And also to feel in contact with the deeper layers, like I’m terrified, or I’m so scared. Once we can start to shift, even I imagine our partner can be more of an ally, because they’re not on the other side; they can be in a place of support. They can’t take responsibility for it, but perhaps can be a support, especially when there’s a level of vulnerability that one is practicing.

Yeah. Again, I have a choice to either accuse, as I’ve always done, or I can be accountable and I can say it in a different way. So even the communication that you’re having with your partner is a choice; the communication that you’re having with them in that moment, beforehand, afterwards, all of that. I mean, there are choices in that, even in the communication. So you’re going to have a partner that’s responding way differently, as we know. That if you’re saying: Hey, I’m feeling this way, I’m telling myself this, they’re going to respond differently than how I did. Like, why are you looking at that person, or why did you do that? Because most of the time, I may be wrong. So you’re accusing me of something that I haven’t even done, or your reaction to maybe something that I’ve done doesn’t match.

Well, I’m grateful for everything you’re sharing, and also all that you’re doing to help support people in this healing journey of when they’re struggling with this jealousy. How do people get in contact with you and what you’re doing as you’re helping people?

Well, thank you again, like I said, for giving a space here for somebody that maybe hears this, that doesn’t have another outlet other than your show, to hear some of this information, and hopefully get them on a great healing path. But they can reach me just through my website at TopSelf.com. Or I’m on Instagram, so you can look Shanenn Bryant. Shanenn is with an E and “enn”, so it is spelled different. But Shanenn Bryant or @TopSelfCoach.

Wonderful. So I’ll have the links to both of those, all your social media, as well as your website, on today’s show notes. For people who are interested and maybe want to know what they might find on your website, do you want to say a little more? 

Yeah, so I definitely have some free resources. There’s a list of like, what are signs of healthy relationships, there’s the five things that you need to help overcome this jealousy. Soon, there’ll be a whole free webinar that people can just go and watch on their own time. So there’s some free resources. Also, I do private one-on-one coaching, and then I have a really great group coaching program called Trust-Building Boot Camp. So it’s a lot of fun. It’s a small group of people, and it’s a place where finally I have someone else that I can talk to, that understands, that doesn’t think I’m crazy, that understands the things that I’m doing and saying and feeling. So people love it. It’s six weeks long, and they’re always wishing that it was longer at the end. So a couple different ways. 

Wonderful! Again, I’m so grateful for your leadership in this area. Thank you for all that you’ve shared today.

Thank you, Jessica.

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Shifting Criticism For Connected Communication

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Dr. Jessica Higgins ~ Relationship and Transformational Coaching