Dr. Deb’s Mental Health Vitamin: Avoiding jealousy
By Dr. Deb Wade
GCU Vice President, Counseling and Psychological Services
Have you unknowingly invited the green-eyed monster into the chambers of your heart or the pathways of your brain?
Jealousy, which can result from the act of comparison, can upset and upend even the strongest of mindsets. Sure, we probably can be a victim to the green-eyed monster that occasionally comes out to play whenever we are faced with someone prettier or more handsome, more popular or more successful, but the feeling is usually fleeting and harmless.
However, when we intentionally measure our sense of self against the ideal image of another person, it can feed insecurity, impact one’s sense of worth or even lead to an obsession with the hopeless idea of trying to measure up.
Discontent at the low end and disgust at the high end can be everyday realities one desperately and desolately battles. It can turn into a very dark obsession, indeed.
Speaking of green … what about the myth of the greener grass?
An occasional glance at another’s “yard” can be quite innocent. However, when one begins to make decisions based on the greener grass that is seen on the proverbial other side of the fence, much dysfunction can rear its head.
We easily can become obsessed with what seems like near perfection outside our window. The neighbor’s marriage looks perfect, their children are all on the honor roll and never break curfew, their pets are manicured and obedient, a hair is never out of place, and even their cars are full of gas, sparkling on the outside with no empty cups or wrappers strewn on the inside!
Again, comparison can unsettle one’s confidence, can skew reality and even can incite action that is destructive and doomed to failure.
From my chair, I’ve counseled many couples with fractured marriages where one partner has chosen to seek the affections of another because the “grass looks greener on the other side of the fence.” How disappointing it is to learn that an over-zealous decision to grasp the “greener grass” only turns into weeds in one’s hand!
So what can we do about the green-eyed monster that can turn into an obsession? And/or … what can we do about the myth of the greener grass that can turn into a senseless and destructive decision?
- Awareness is always the first key! Comparison of our circumstance to the idealized circumstance of another is a set-up for failure. Recognize that the innocent notice and admiration of another’s good fortune is appropriate. But when this becomes excessive and becomes an obsession that we use to measure our own sense of worth, it is unhealthy and destructive. Be aware of the subtle shift … reach out for help, if needed!
- In addition, be aware that the grass is NOT greener on the other side of the fence! It is greener where it is watered! Become a GREAT gardener and water your own yard … you will be amazed at how lush and “green” it can become!
- And finally … be aware that we CAN take action! Let’s just kick those two to the curb! The green-eyed monster and the myth of the greener grass … BE GONE!