Taming the Green-Eyed Monster
Admit it: There are times when we all get just a little jealous of a friend, spouse or sibling when they get attention or receive good news. But what if you spend every waking moment brimming with anger when others are happy? Dr. Phil has advice if envy is threatening your relationships.
- What's your payoff? Are you looking for your spouse to constantly reassure you that he loves you? Are you threatened if he glances at other women or even if he watches models on TV? If you're the one feeding the behavior by validating your mate over and over again, it needs to stop. If your spouse feels insecure, no amount of reassurance will ever work. It's like spitting in the ocean. Don't give your loved one a payoff by reassuring his/her destructive behavior. You actually build the behavior when you do that.
- Realize that you can't control others. "People who are low in self-esteem, jealous, envious, highly-dependent, we always think about those people as being very weak and very needy," Dr. Phil explains. "But the truth is, people who behave in this way are tyrannical, power seeking, demanding people." Recognize that you'll never be able to control the ones you love. Stop trying to manipulate your friends and family, and start working on building relationships.
- Change your internal dialogue. If you are constantly comparing yourself to others, your internal dialogue may be telling you: "I'm ugly. I'm unattractive. I'm uninteresting. I'm undesirable." Dr. Phil says, "That's just simply not rational. What has happened is you've been programmed." You have to write down your internal dialogue and then rationally challenge every negative thing you're saying to yourself. Your war is not with anyone else; your war is with you.
- You choose your reactions. If you fly into a rage when your sibling gets better grades than you do and hardly studies or is in better shape but never works out, you need to control how you react. There are other ways you can respond when others succeed. You could be happy for them or decide that their good luck is irrelevant to your situation. However you choose to react, don't blame them for being successful or attractive. Embrace your own attributes instead.
- Create your own standards. Instead of using your loved ones as your yardstick, measure yourself against your own standards. Dr. Phil tells one guest who envies her twin sister, "Have you ever thought about your own identity and becoming who you want to be and what you want to do?" You may need to separate yourself just to create enough breathing room and establish your own identity. You won't feel like you're always competing if you live up to your own standards instead of someone else's. Once you do, you'll realize, "I've got some gifts. I've got some skills. I've got some abilities. People like me for me." Look at the consequences of your actions, because you may be creating a wedge in your relationships.
- Build allies instead of enemies. If others envy you, you don't have to feel defensive or downplay your attributes. If you return their negative behavior, you'll only drive people away. "The number one need in all people is acceptance," Dr. Phil points out. "If you make them feel good about who they are, they'll follow you anywhere. They'll pitch in. They'll work hard." Maybe instead of flaunting your attractiveness or trendiness, you could compliment the beauty in others. If you do that, you might get a completely different response.