Jess and Brandon weigh in on listener questions related to breakups, rough patches, managing jealousy in the age of social media and wedding planning anxieties.
**Please find a rough transcript below for this episode.**
How do I not get jealous when it seems like everyone else is so happy – especially on social media?
First – know that your comparisons aren’t realistic.
Comparing your real-life relationship to the highlight reels that other couples post on social media will inevitably produce an unsatisfactory result. Photos, videos and other edited posts offer a momentary snapshot that is incomplete, condensed and/or scripted and your life is far more complex than one post can illustrate.
I don’t post about the fact that I ate a chocolate bar that I took from the plane for breakfast this morning, or that my tummy is hurting. I don’t post about the fact that the sex we had the other night was really weird and sort of uncomfortable. I don’t post about being constipated or the fact that I had a terrible night last night and came home pissy over traffic and my team losing in a sort of frustrating game of Ultimate.
So first and foremost, know that you’re comparing your regular life to less than 1% of someone else’s life.
Next, know that jealous is normal. Admit to it. Identify if there is something they have that you want. And then identify what you can do about it.
Some jealousy can help you to feel inspired, so when it comes to what you see on social media, calculated comparisons can be useful. As long as you realize that social media offers only one depiction of a multi-faceted relationship, it can be useful to learn from other couples. For example, perhaps you follow a couple who prioritizes health and fitness and at times it motivates you to to the same. Or perhaps you follow a couple who travels and you use their itineraries as inspiration for your next trip. Experiences of normative jealousy can be helpful if they help you to recognize what you want and how you can change your thoughts and behaviour to deepen fulfilment. If, however, feeling jealousy leads to distressful thoughts (e.g. feeling badly about yourself), they can be damaging.
Once you’ve acknowledged the emotion, you can examine why you’re feeling it and what you might do about it. What shifts can you make — behaviourally and cognitively — to learn from this feeling.
How can you use jealous feelings to look at what you feel you’re missing and make changes OR accept your circumstances in the case of things you can’t change. For example, if you feel jealous of another person’s financial success and you acknowledge this feeling, you may be able to take steps to improve your own confidence or make adjustments to your own finances.
You’ll also want to look at ways to build confidence overall. If you admire or covet something somebody else has, what can you do to achieve/embody this in your own life? You can’t have everything they have, but you can make changes to the way you think and the way you behave right now.
And finally, consider the evidence that supports your jealousy. Should you really feel jealous or is it an irrational emotional response? If a friend came to you with the same problem and feelings, what would you say?
I should note that envy often refers to negative emotions directed at another/others (e.g. resentment, malevolence) whereas jealousy often refers to longing for something that someone else has. If you’re feeling envious, you’ll want to really work to address the underlying jealousy because it’s exhausting to live your life directing anger and malevolence at other people.
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