Divorce is loaded with hard emotions. There’s one that most of us seem to experience regardless of the circumstances of the divorce and that’s feeling jealous of your ex.
You know that feeling—some of us know it all too well during and after divorce.
That feeling that surrounds you when one of your children, after spending the weekend with your ex, tells you about the “new friend” that is at the ex’s house. The “friend” that was there the whole weekend, who went out to dinner and the movies with them.
Or when you hear about the trip your ex is taking to Europe, when you’re still stressed out, wondering if you will make it till the next paycheck, let alone ever going somewhere nice for vacation.
The Green Eyed Monster that consumes us, makes us despise our current situation, causes us to put all of our energy and attention on somebody else—when what we should really be doing is focusing on our own life and our own recovery.
Today, let’s talk about this paralyzing emotion that brings out the worst in us, and prevents us from moving on with our own lives and finding our own independence and happiness.
And I have to share with you two very ugly truths about this emotion.
Jealousy Is Selfish
Have you ever known someone in your life that was always “me me me” and never bothered to ask you about your day, or your hopes and dreams? Heck, you may have been married to that person. Well, jealousy is a bit like that person, because it’s a barrier that causes you to worry about something (your ex’s new life) that you have no control over.
And instead of focusing on yourself and your healing, jealously is there instead, being all, “Oh, look at their wonderful life! Oh, look at all the things they’re doing that are amazing!”
Tell me…what benefit is it to you to be focusing your energy on what the other person is doing? What benefit is it to you to be thinking about how good your ex has it, when you feel like you were screwed over?
What benefit is it to you to be obsessing over their new partner, house, vacation plans, car, fill in the blank with whatever it is that you’re thinking about that’s going on in your ex’s life that has nothing to do with you?
You already know the answer. Being jealous is of no benefit. So why is it still something that we can’t seem to shake while trying to move on from divorce?
The truth hurts and you’re about to learn why.
Jealousy Is Also Lazy
You know what’s easier than working on yourself?
Sitting there, stewing over about how much better your ex has it than you.
One of the many reasons that jealousy brings out the worst in us is because it diverts our attention away from putting ourselves first. And instead of doing the hard work of focusing on how we can move on, and how we can learn to heal, jealousy leads us astray, by taking the easy road of being reactive about things you can’t control.
And while you’re worrying about that, you waste precious time that could be spent focusing on the most important thing—YOU.
It’s easier to say, “Oh, it should be me taking that vacation instead of my ex” than to focus on your own finances and schedule, and plan a vacation that fits your lifestyle and budget.
It’s easier to say, “That a-hole already has a new partner! How can this happen! It’s not fair!” than starting to take care of yourself, learning how to plan for your own future, and focusing on getting out of your rut and getting your life back on track.
See what I mean?
Jealousy is sapping you of your energy to move the hell on. It’s forcing you to stay stuck, unable to move on. Because it’s a lot easier to stew and be hateful over something you can’t control than it is to be responsible for your own happiness and moving ahead under your terms.
But I’m jealous! So what am I supposed to do?
I know, I know…you’re human and you may be hurting, not knowing what to do about your jealousy. But here’s a system you can put into place to do something about it!
Turn Your Jealousy Into Productivity
The next time you’re feeling jealous about whatever your ex is doing, or anything going on in your life for that matter, do the following.
Pinpoint exactly what is making you jealous. These are your jealousy triggers.
“I heard from my son that his father is going to Europe in the fall with his new girlfriend, and I’m here having trouble paying rent. What the heck?”
Dig deeper. What is it exactly that you’re jealous of? List it, and be honest with yourself.
Jealousy rarely has anything to do with the other person. It has everything to with what you’re doing and how you’re thinking about yourself. It is an emotion that has no power when you are being mindful and proactive with your own life.
“I am jealous because I am hurt. I feel hurt because we never did anything fun or adventurous or travel in our relationship and I feel left out. I am also jealous because I feel like financially, I cannot treat myself.”
Ask yourself what you can do instead. How can you divert that energy you are spending being jealous into something actionable for you?
“My feelings are hurt and maybe I can’t fix that pain myself. The next time I am triggered, perhaps I can reach out to friends or family for support, or instead direct that energy into doing an activity that I like to do. As far as finances go…sure, I can’t go anywhere exotic right now. But I can start looking at my finances and budget, and maybe start planning a getaway or a nice trip for myself that is within my budget.”
How about you? Do you struggle with jealousy? And if so, what are some of the triggers that make you feel this way? And, more importantly, what type of steps will you take this week to turn that jealousy into something that puts you first?
Martha Bodyfelt is a CDC Certified Divorce Coach® whose website “Surviving Your Split” helps readers gain clarity and get their confidence back so they can move on with their lives. For your free Divorce Recovery guide, stop by //survivingyoursplit.com/ or say hello at firstname.lastname@example.org.