Why Control Never Works
The reason control never works in relationships is that we're usually trying to control something that's uncontrollable. For example: Whether another person loves you is completely out of your control. The feelings of other people are their business, not yours. There are plenty of things we can do to influence the feelings of others, but there's no way you can make another person feel any particular way.
Two thousand years ago Epictetus made this point clearly in the opening line of his Art Of Living: "The secret of happiness is knowing that some things are within your control and some things are not." The reason jealousy makes us so miserable is that we expend our energy trying to control the other person. If we could let go of trying to control the other person, we could use the energy to explore our own feelings and to figure out how we created this situation in our lives.
It's Never About Who You Think It's About
Another reason jealousy and control feel so awful and cause such disasters: We're never jealous about the person we think we're jealous about. Gay: "After all the misery of trying and failing to get my first girlfriend to come back to me, I finally realized that the whole issue had nothing to do with her. I was still in the grip of an early trauma involving abandonment by my mother in my first year of life. The grief of this old trauma was accompanied by a deep fear that I was fundamentally unlovable. The more I focused on trying to control my girlfriend, the less I was able to go inside to figure out what was really going on."
Getting Free Of Jealousy Is A Two-Step Process
First, you have to find out what you're really afraid of. Usually, jealousy is based on fears of abandonment, of being alone, of feeling unlovable, and of not feeling whole and sufficient on your own. However, each of us has our own particular "signature" of feelings, so each of us needs to turn our attention deeply enough inside to ask, "What fears are my jealousy really based on?"
There's often grief as well as fear buried beneath the jealousy. We've often never fully recovered from some earlier abandonment or betrayal. The open wound of this old trauma drives our desperate attempt to control the other person in our present. Just as with fear, we each have our own signature of grief. The only way to discover it is to open up an attitude of genuine innocence and wonder to ask, "What old hurts are beneath my feelings of jealousy?"
The Next Step
The second step is to talk about the fear and grief openly, preferably with the person you're jealous about. If this isn't possible, a friend, coach or therapist can sometimes step in to provide the support and listening-ear we all need at such times.
What's Possible In A Conscious Relationship
In a healthy, conscious relationship jealousy doesn't recycle because the partners talk about it on the deeper level we've described. They talk about their fears, their old griefs, and what they want and need from the other person in the present. If you get underneath the anger and control of jealousy to the real feelings of fear and grief, you'll find that the jealousy dissolves naturally and doesn't return.
Adapted from ATTRACTING GENUINE LOVE, the cyber-course developed for single and divorced people by Kathlyn and Gay Hendricks. The Hendricks Institute is an International Learning Center has been teaching core skills for conscious living for over three decades.
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