Written by DiveThru Team
Reviewed by Natalie Asayag MSW, LCSW
Feeling Jealous: A Guide To Your Emotions
Published Dec 23rd, 2020 & updated on Dec 7th, 2021
Feeling jealous can be really tough to manage, even though it’s totally normal and everyone experiences this feeling at some point! But admitting you’re jealous? HA, yeahhh right… not in this lifetime! It can be super embarrassing and even shameful to admit to ourselves (let alone anyone else) when we’re feeling jealous. You might be worried that admitting you’re feeling jealous means you’ll come off as childish or petty (we’re all just trying to get through life like mature adults here, right?!). So instead, we tend to bottle up this feeling inside and ignore it for as looooong as possible and hope it goes away on its own. Stating the obvious here, but…it’s not that easy.
We probably don’t need to tell you that holding in this feeling is a really bad idea. Deep down, you know it’s true. Even though it’s totally normal to feel jealous from time to time, in some cases it can really interfere with your life! Ignoring your feelings of major jealousy will only bring up issues in the future. Ultimately, you could risk losing an important relationship in your life if you don’t address this feeling head-on. Plus, harboring negative feelings just isn’t good for your mental health. And guess what? We don’t have time for that! So let’s dive thru what it means to be jealous and how you can cope with this nasty AF feeling.
A Deeper Look At Feeling Jealous
You’ve probably heard the old saying “green with envy” before. Buuut, did you know that feeling jealous and feeling envious aren’t exactly the same thing? Whoa… #mindblown.
It turns out, envy means you want what someone else has. Maybe you want their fancy new car or Pinteresty (yes, we just made up that word) apartment. You scroll through their Instagram posts, wishing you could seem as put together as they do. They might be flaunting their fun vacations, concerts and nights out with friends. Compared to your life of working a 9-5 job that’s stressing you tf out, taking classes part-time and barely paying attention to your social life, they have it alllll. And in your mind, you don’t. Basically, envy is rooted in the desire to change or be more like someone else.
Sooo then, what’s jealousy? Instead of feeling envious over what someone has that you don’t, jealousy happens when you feel like a personal relationship is being threatened by someone else. OoOoh, suddenly things are getting spicy. According to the APA Dictionary of Psychology, jealousy (n.) means “a negative emotion in which an individual resents a third party for appearing to take away (or being likely to take away) the affections of a loved one.” Huh. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
Think about the last time you were jealous of someone in your life. Be honest with yourself here! Maybe your best friend has gotten super close with her new roommate, and you feel like you’re a third wheel whenever you hang out as a group. Or maybe your partner’s coworker seemed a little too flirty at the office Christmas party, and you’re suspicious that something’s up. Maybe you’ve had a Ross-and-Monica-Gellar-style sibling rivalry going on for years and have always felt like your parents favour your sibling over you. All of these are examples of jealousy, or that someone is a threat to your relationship with a person that you care about. Trust us, you’re not the only one. We’ve all been there at some point! And obviously, feeling like you’re losing someone who means a lot you can make you feel really, really fucking sad and insecure.
Speaking of insecure, that is something that jealousy and envy do have in common! Only the difference is instead of being sad, jealousy is rooted from a different core feeling. Any guesses? Drumroll, please… it’s MAD. So that explains why jealousy can be such a burning, intense feeling! Now that we know what causes jealousy, let’s get more into how jealousy shows up in symptoms.
How Feeling Jealous Shows Up Mentally
What are some of the signs of jealousy? We’re so glad you asked. Feeling jealous can show up mentally in a few different ways, and let’s be honest. None of them feel super great. If you’re jealous, it could look like this:
1. Feeling a ton of anger towards the person who you see as interfering in your relationship or as a potential threat.
Ughhh, it pisses me off that Sarah is always hanging out with MY best friend all of a sudden. Doesn’t she have friends of her own?!
2. Resenting your friend, family member or partner who you feel is becoming distant, spending less time with you or giving more attention to someone else.
He’s always busy with work ever since he got that promotion. I hate that we don’t spend as much time together as we used to! Does he even care?
3. Not being happy for someone else when they get what you want.
I can’t believe grandma is taking Stephanie on that trip for her birthday. Favoritism much? She never took me anywhere for my birthday… I’m her grandchild, too!
4. Really disliking a new person in your loved one’s life for reasons you can’t explain.
I dunno what it is, but I really don’t like mom’s new boyfriend. Sure, he’s nice enough and seems to make her happy. But I just don’t like him!
5. Feeling super sad when thinking about your loved one, like you’re losing them.
It feels like it’s been forever since I’ve seen Josh now that he’s made new friends at college. He’s always busy and it feels like we’re drifting apart…
How Feeling Jealous Shows Up Physically
Feeling jealous can show up in physical ways, believe it or not! You should believe us, though. We did our research for you! Basically, jealousy triggers a couple of different parts of your brain: the left frontal cortex (deals with lovely emotions like shame, fear and embarrassment) and the dopamine system (regulates feel-good transmitter).
Jealousy can also trigger your body’s stress response! Which means increased blood pressure, heart rate and levels of cortisol (stress hormone). So if you notice your heart pounding fast, take this as a cue to tune in to how you are feeling. That way, you’ll be better able to implement a coping skill.
You could also experience difficulty sleeping or poor appetite thanks to jealousy. Anddd sadly, jealousy can lead to depression in extreme cases.
That was… a lot to take in. Sounds like jealousy is a pretty complex feeling, huh? But don’t worry! There are ways to cope with this feeling so that you can manage it and prevent it from taking over your life.
5 Ways to Cope with Feeling Jealous
Now here’s the best part: working through this emotion. Don’t worry! We promise it’s not hard. We’ve even come up with some tips for you, so all you gotta do is follow along:
Jealousy can be a tough feeling to navigate on your own. Try writing out exactly how you’re feeling and what made you feel this way. Taking the time to journal our thoughts can give us the clarity we need to move forward!
2. Reach out for support
Your loved ones are there for a reason! When you need to talk through how you’re feeling, lean on the people you trust. Sometimes just having someone to listen to us and validate how we’re feeling makes all the difference.
3. Practice meditation
Meditation is a method that’s been used to relieve stress and improve mental clarity since, like… forever. This practice allows us to slowww down and shift our mindset. If you’re not sure how to meditate, start out with a guided practice. Hey, everyone’s gotta start somewhere.
4. Comfort yourself like a friend
If you don’t have someone around who can be there for you right now, be there for yourself as best as you can. Remind yourself that everything will be okay, and that this feeling is temporary.
5. 5-4-3-2-1 grounding exercise
Engage all five senses and mindfully notice five things you can see, four things you can touch, three things you can hear, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste. Go in any order that makes sense for you and your current situation – no pressure!
Okayyy, there you have it. Now that you have a better idea of how to recognize when you’re feeling jealous plus some simple ways to work through it, you can tackle jealousy head-on when it comes up! You got this.