Step 1. Stop jealous behaviors.
Make an effort to no longer engage in the self-defeating
Changing emotions or how you feel about yourself is a
difficult task that takes time. You need to learn to
identify the problem areas and then challenge them over
an extended period of time to see change. However, what
you need to consider is that the most destructive thing
to your relationship is your jealous behaviors. These
can be addressed immediately even if you haven't changed
the underlying causes of the jealousy.
Therefore, the first step is to identify the jealous
behaviors. Make a list of the behaviors in which you
engage that create problems in your relationship. If
possible, talk to your significant other and find out
what bothers him or her. Some behaviors to consider are:
1) Do you question your spouse in detail about his or
her day looking for discrepancies? Even if you think you
are being clever in how you phrase your questions, your
spouse will catch on to what you are doing and it will
be an irritant.
2) Do you accuse him or her of paying too much attention
to someone else or of looking at some attractive person?
3) Do you question him or her in detail about past
relationships? Sometimes people do this under the guise
of full disclosure or honesty but it will be clear to
your spouse that you are just feeding your jealousy.
4) Do you check emails and phone records? Do you then
question about unknown numbers and require proof about
the identity of the person?
5) Do you control with whom your spouse can associate?
6) Do you sabotage your partner's efforts to look
attractive? For example, if she is on a diet and you
bring home junk food.
7) Do you belittle your partner and try to make him or
her believe that no one else could love him/her the way
The above are just some of the common destructive
behaviors. Try to identify your behaviors specifically.
If you have trouble with this you could even keep a
journal (which can even be a piece of paper you keep
with you) and whenever you notice a behavior, write it
down. Sometimes to notice a behavior you may first
notice the outcome of a behavior such as an argument.
So, you might write down every time you argue and try to
determine what behavior preceded the argument.
Once you have identified the behaviors, try to include
other specifics about the behavior such as:
1) When did the behavior occur?
2) What happened right before the behavior?
3) What was your emotional state right before the
4) What was your emotional state after the behavior?
5) Was there some reinforcement of the behavior? For
example, did you have make-up sex after the argument?
Not all of these questions will provide useful
information. However, you want to look at your answers
to determine any patterns that might occur. For
instance, if you noticed that you tend to engage in the
behavior when you've had a stressful day at work, then
that pattern would tell you to be on the look-out for
the behavior after work. Or if you notice that you tend
to engage in the behavior after you and your spouse have
attended a party, then you know you need to be careful
after a party.
Once you have identified the behaviors and when and how
they are likely to occur, you need to make a plan to
stop the behaviors. If you have identified a certain
pattern when they are likely to occur, you could try
changing your routine. For example, if it occurs when
you've been stressed at work, you might talk with a
friend to unwind or you might go play racquetball to
work off the stress.
If you are questioning or making accusations, you may
need to be very firm with yourself and tell yourself to
"Stop." Once will not be enough. You will need to keep
reminding yourself. Also, remind yourself of how the
behavior is hurting your relationship. Have someone you
can call when you are having trouble resisting. For some
people, depending on your relationship, your spouse
might be able to assist you. For example, you could tell
your spouse not to answer your questions or to walk
away. However, ultimately, it is important for you to
take control of your behavior.
When people change behaviors, they often believe that
the change should be reward enough. However, the jealous
behaviors are often very powerfully reinforcing so you
need something to counteract that reinforcement. So,
when you are doing well or you resisted an urge to
engage in the jealous behaviors, give yourself a reward.
Rewards can vary according to each person so it may be a
good idea of making a list of things you can do to
reward yourself. And, if your spouse is willing, have
him or her give you a pat on the back as well.
Finally, one very important factor regarding changing
behaviors needs to be addressed. So often, I have
clients who tell me that they complained to their spouse
about jealousy and he or she changed for a period of
time. But then they reverted back to the same behaviors.
The typical reason this occurs is because all the
individual did was to change the behaviors. Without
changing the underlying cause of the behaviors such as
the self-esteem or fear of abandonment, the behaviors
are likely to return because the individual is still in
an emotional state of distress. So, in other words, it
is not enough to change just the behaviors, you need to
take the other steps I've outlined as well.
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by Excel At Life, LLC
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