Paul Cockayne – 07791 970406 – firstname.lastname@example.org
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Do you remember the film “Aliens”? In it, the aliens occupy the bodies of humans and grow in side them until they are ready to burst out in an inconvenient and somewhat messy way. I was reminded of the film recently when a client of mine described is jealousy as “a monster inside me”.
I think my client’s metaphor of the monster is an apt one – jealousy can be the most horrific of emotions. Jealous thoughts can seem like a wild beast trapped inside you, completely out of your control, eating away at you, torturing you from the inside. It is the worse, I think, that the beast lives inside you because along with jealous feelings can often come a feeling that they are irrational, that you are irrational, stupid, even mad.
Jealous feelings can grow if they are allowed to, and the monster inside us can seem to feed off the thoughts – our thoughts seem to feed our feelings, and our feelings feed our thoughts so that the monster grows and grows, and our agony increases in an uncontrolled, uncontrollable, way.
Though a few people seem to relish the anguish caused by jealousy, for most of us the feelings are unbearable – so how do we deal with them? Probably the most frequent thing people do is to try to get someone else to fix it – and that usually means our partner.
Jealousy is fuelled by insecurity and if we feel insecure in a relationship, it is natural that we should look to our partner to help us. Maybe they have caused the jealousy in the first place – perhaps they’ve had an affair, or flirted outrageously at a party, or teased us about someone who fancies them. There might be many things that can spark feelings of jealousy and for people who already feel insecure in their relationship – who feel unsure of their partner’s love – it sometimes doesn’t take much for the beast to start to grow inside us.
Sometimes, of course, jealousy is unfounded. Your partner may have done nothing more that come home slightly late from work occasionally, but if you are already insecure – if you have been cheated on in previous relationships, perhaps – the monster can wake up and then the horrible cycle of jealousy can start again, even if your partner has done nothing to justify it.
Whether the jealousy is founded or not, people often look to their partners to help them, by cutting off connections with friends, by staying at home every night, by offering constant reassurance. These things will help, and can seem to be the answer, but the problem is that they don’t tend to be sustainable. Your partner will want to stay in touch with friends; they will want to go to the office Christmas party; they will tire of having to tell you time and again that there is nothing to worry about, that they do still love you, that there is nobody else.
Strategies based on what your partner does or doesn’t do – and worse still, strategies based on you controlling what your partner does or doesn’t do – are not sustainable, and don’t solve the real problem, which lies within you. That monster continues to lurk, to lie dormant, until something – maybe something very small – wakes him up.
So if you are going to solve the problem you have to do something about that horrible scary monster inside you….but what? And that question takes me from thinking about “Aliens” to thinking about “The Wizard of Oz”.