On a trip to Scotland, I took a bus from Edinburgh to Rosslyn Chapel, which was the film location at the end of The Da Vinci Code, from Dan Brown’s book. Walking up the hill to the chapel, I passed someone’s creative effort to make some Da Vinci money – a wheelbarrow of heavily filled white plastic bags and a sign that said: “Da Vinci Horse Manure, 50p a Bag.”
Inside the chapel, there are two pillars, one carved by the master mason in charge of the building’s stonework and the other by his young apprentice. Legend says that the master was so jealous of the apprentice’s superior pillar that he hit him in the head with a mallet and killed him. As punishment, a replica of the master mason’s face was carved into a corner of the chapel, forcing it to stare forever at the apprentice’s pillar.
Jealousy is about not taking responsibility.
People who express jealousy and possessiveness want someone else to make them feel happy and secure, which is impossible because only we can do that for ourselves.
One of my friends has a husband who adores her and is loyal to his core. But she feels jealous anyway. She tries to control him by getting angry with him. So he behaves cautiously. He avoids being alone with women and avoids talking to women in her presence. But because she’s in a relationship with fear, believing every negative thing she tells herself, it doesn’t matter what he does.
Her relationship with fear is bigger than her relationship with him. And fear causes her to believe the worst. Then she says things like, “Everyone’s competing with me. I can’t trust or depend on anyone, especially him.” She doesn’t feel safe, so she tries to possess him, manipulating him emotionally. “I won’t share you with anyone. I want to have you all to myself. Otherwise, I’ll feel threatened.” Since she lives in fear of not having him, she can’t experience the joy of being with him.
So what’s the answer?
There are many therapeutic techniques for hashing out the reasons behind our fear and jealousy. But hashing leads to more focus on the problem, which doesn’t help us find an answer.
What will help is to become conscious of our true motivations by noticing what happens, identifying the cause, and acknowledging that we set it in motion.
Let’s call it what it is.
We can’t stop doing what we don’t know we’re doing. And we can’t find release from what we’re not willing to admit. So the first step is to identify it, by naming the name of whatever we’re doing.
Emotions are energy that we express on purpose in various forms. We tend to categorize them as negative or positive. But they’re not really good or bad.
Instead, they’re effective or ineffective at achieving the results we want, whenever we choose and use them. And getting honest would mean saying what we really mean and calling our emotions by what we intend for them to accomplish.
Instead of saying, “You hurt me when you look at other women,” say, “I’m desperately trying to hold onto you so that I can feel safe and loved, but I’m afraid that I’m losing you. So I’m choosing to express jealousy and anger, to manipulate you into staying with me.”
The good news is that, when our behavior patterns aren’t working for us, deciding to acknowledge them – without judging or justifying them, or feeling guilty about them – will cause them to lose power over us. And that’s a first step in choosing supportive behaviors.
Then we can say to our partners. “I want you to enjoy the moments that you’re with me and also the moments that you’re not with me. And I want us to enjoy being together because we want that, not because we’re obligated.”
The goal is to take responsibility for our emotions and actions, in order to release ourselves and others from any uncomfortable energy that we’ve been expressing.
It’s like emptying our personal wheelbarrow of horse manure that we’ve been carting around. And the big prize is that we get to feel good about ourselves!