When was the last time you felt a tinge of jealousy? (And it's OK to admit it was as recently as a few minutes ago.) Maybe a friend is celebrating a particular milestone that isn't even on your radar—think marriage, babies, a big job promotion, or fabulous new apartment or house—or a loved one is giving someone else extra attention. Maybe you find you're constantly, almost chronically jealous when you're in a relationship. Whatever the trigger, it's easy for jealousy, that sneaky green monster, to insert itself into your life and headspace.
"Feelings of jealousy typically stem from insecurity," explains Amber Trueblood, a licensed marriage and family therapist in San Diego, Calif. "[It's] a fundamental fear that you're not worthy or deserving of whatever someone else is, has, or does. Similarly, jealousy could stem from frustration about perceived 'unfairness;' you feel [as if] the success or wealth of another came too 'easily.'"
Though most people experience a bout of jealousy at some point, it's not necessarily a good place to be—it's negative, unpleasant and unhealthy for you; and it's sometimes detrimental to others. Jealous feelings can lead to lowered self-worth, emotional instability, or breaking of relationships.
If you're someone who's constantly wondering how to stop being jealous in a relationship or jealous of others—or how to avoid catching feelings of envy in the first place—a few psychology experts share actionable tips for keeping jealousy at bay (and learning how to appreciate both what you have and what others have).
Turn Jealousy Into Personal Reflection: Focus on Yourself First
More often than not, those negative feelings aren't about the person you're jealous of—it's about something going on in your life. "Insecurities about your ability to obtain whatever it is you're feeling jealous about are often unwarranted or untrue," Trueblood explains. "Regardless of whether your fears are warranted, believing you'll never be as good as someone else or have what they have (as easily) can be very painful and extremely frustrating."
Instead of spending excessive time and energy thinking about someone else's successes or achievements (and convincing yourself that they don't deserve them, while you do), turn your outlook around: Think about what you bring to the table. You have abilities and talents that others don't have—that's what makes being human interesting.
"Focus on your unique strengths, skills, abilities, experiences, and dreams," Trueblood says. "Chances are, you don't truly want exactly what someone else has. Uncover your dreams and build on your own unique skill sets because no two people have the same composition of qualities and gifts."
Another thing you should remember: You might see everyone's biggest successes and achievements play out on social media, but a feed really is just a highlight reel of their life.
"You never truly know anyone else's story," Trueblood continues. "Focusing on yourself and uncovering your unique gifts is only truly helpful in dismantling jealousy if you then take action. Move in the direction of your dreams every single day: Take small steps, have grace for yourself, and remember that with every action you either succeed or you learn."
Take Action to Stop Being Jealous
When we get jealous, we often feel as if another person has something we can't have ourselves. But, in reality, nobody is blocking your path to success.
"Don't buy into a scarcity model that they have what you want, so you can't have it," says Tamar Chansky, PhD, author and founder of Children's and Adult Center for OCD and Anxiety. "Make the important cognitive correction or edit—the other person isn't in our way! Their success isn't blocking the path for us, it is up to us what we do."
Instead of seeing someone else's accomplishments as dimming your life, use it as inspiration. In fact, Chansky recommends networking with the person who you're jealous of to learn from them. Once you've understood how they got to where you want to be, get busy. (Not to compete with them or "win," but to really work toward a similar goal that you've identified as wanting to accomplish, too.)
"When you're doing things you love, you stop noticing what everyone else is doing," says Amita K. Patel, LCSW, a New York–based licensed psychotherapist, social worker, and founder of Aligned Holistics. "Because you're focused on yourself, when you do notice, you care less."
Halt Relationship Jealousy in Its Tracks
While jealousy can rear its head when comparing your achievements to someone else's, it's also very prevalent in romantic relationships. Ever felt a burning in your chest or that head-spinning sensation when your significant other is chatting with someone they may find attractive or used to date?
Jealousy is often thought to be a sign of love, but Brenda Wade, PhD, thinks otherwise. "Jealousy is a sign of insecurity and possessiveness toward your partner," explains Wade, a clinical psychologist and relationship advisor to Online For Love. "On the other hand, it can also be a sign that you're fearful of losing the one you love."
In order to cope with jealous thoughts—and strengthen your relationship—you need to get to the root of the issue. "Communicate with your partner about the unequal levels of commitment, care, or unreliable tendencies your partner has," she adds. "Some folks crave attention to compensate for their own feelings of inadequacy and like to create a jealous scenario to feel valued."
According to Wade, addressing your jealousy doesn't have to lead to fights or accusations. In fact, it can promote healthy communication and boundaries."This is the work of a committed relationship between two emotionally mature folks," she says.
Stifling your feelings by ignoring them completely might seem like the most clear-cut way to stop being jealous, but envy is often connected to the larger, underlying issue of low self-esteem and insecurity. In order to truly quash jealous thoughts and behaviors, these root issues must be addressed.
"Jealousy often correlates with low self-esteem and can be caused by insecurity, unhealthy relationship patterns, or fear," explains Brian Wind, PhD, clinical psychologist and Chief Clinical Officer at Journey Pure. "It can come from harsh inner criticism in the form of negative self-talk."
Double down on self-love by standing in front of your bathroom and reciting a mantra every morning. Or take a few minutes before you go to bed to jot down three things you loved about yourself that day. When you spend time celebrating you for being you, you're giving yourself a major self-esteem boost. That said, Wind says it's also a great idea to seek professional help.
"Working with a mental health professional to learn to believe you're loved and worthy of love can help you boost your self-esteem and stand up to your inner critic," Wind says. "This may help you to stop being jealous as often jealousy arises out of low self-esteem."