Dangerous Emotions in Recovery
Jealousy is one of the most damaging emotions that humans can experience. It can lead people to engage in all types of bad behaviors, and it can prevent the individual from developing meaningful relationships. Those people who have escaped an addiction may find that they need to deal with negative emotions like jealousy in recovery. It is vital that these individuals learn how to cope with this type of resentment or it could prevent them from achieving a strong and fulfilling life in sobriety. It might even cause them to relapse back to their addiction.
Jealousy can refer to a number of different things. It can mean resentment against a rival who is enjoying success or advantage when the individual believes that they deserve such success . Jealousy can also refer to a mental fear that a loved one is being somehow unfaithful. A person can also develop a jealous vigilance over the things they believe belong to them – for example, a young child might get upset if another child plays with their toys.
Difference between Jealousy and Envy
Jealousy often gets confused with envy but these are not the same thing. When people feel envy it is because they desire the possessions or qualities of another individual. With jealousy the individual believes that something that somehow belongs to them is been given to somebody else. This is better understood by way of an example. If an individual feels resentment because they do not have a beautiful wife like their friend then this would be described as envy. On the other hand, if they feared that their own wife was having an affair with their friend then this would be jealousy.
Types of Jealousy
There are different types of jealousy including:
- Power jealousy is where one person believes that they are more deserving of the status enjoyed by somebody else.
- Work jealousy is where the individual feels that their colleagues are being rewarded unfairly.
- Sibling rivalry
- Friend jealousy is the fear that this person isn’t a real friend or that they are going to betray the friendship.
- Romantic jealousy
- Abnormal jealousy refers to a situation where this emotion becomes pathological so that it starts to interfere with the individual’s life.
Symptoms of Jealousy
The symptoms of jealousy can include:
- The individual fears that they are going to lose the love of somebody they care about to somebody else.
- They have a suspicion that they are being betrayed.
- Feelings of low self-esteem.
- Sadness over things they believe they have lost.
- Feelings of uncertainty and loneliness.
- The individual experiences feelings of distrust.
Causes of Jealousy
There are a number of reasons for why people can experience jealousy including:
- Low self esteem
- Fear of being alone
- Past traumas and bad experiences
- Abnormal jealousy can be due to mental health problems
- Feelings of insecurity
- Anxiety about the future
Jealousy in Recovery
Those people who are recovery from an addiction will often be emotionally immature. This means that they struggle to deal with their own emotions, and it is often this that drives them into substance abuse in the first place. During the midst of addiction the individual is not able to mature emotionally, and this means that when they become sober they are still likely to face problems with feelings such as jealousy. The types of jealousy that people will experience in recovery include:
- The fear that their new friends in recovery will betray them.
- Insecurity in romantic relationships.
- Resentment because their peers in recovery seem to doing better or achieving more.
- When in rehab the individual can feel resentment because the therapists seem to favor some other clients over them.
Dangers of Jealousy in Recovery
Jealousy is considered a type of stinking thinking in recovery. It can be detrimental for the individual to experience this negative emotion because:
- The individual can use their jealousy as justification for a return to substance abuse.
- Jealousy is one of the least attractive of all human emotions. It can make it difficult for the individual to form meaningful and lasting relationships.
- Jealousy can prompt all types of maladaptive behaviors including domestic violence.
- Abnormal levels of jealousy can be a sign that the individual is suffering from some type of mental health problem. A significant number of people in recovery end up being diagnosed with a dual diagnosis.
- If people are dealing with excessive amounts of jealousy in recovery it can prevent them from making progress. If people become stuck in sobriety it can lead to relapse or dry drunk syndrome.
- Jealousy may mean that the individual is unable to from romantic relationships.
- It may mean that the individual is more focused on other people’s recovery than their own recovery.
- When people feel jealous most of the time it takes much of the enjoyment out of life. When people achieve sobriety they earn the right to build a much better life for themselves, and it is a real shame if they do not make the most of this opportunity.
How to Overcome Jealousy
There are things that people can do to overcome their feelings of jealousy including:
- Many people feel jealous because they are suffering from low self esteem. As the individual finds success in recovery their self esteem increases so they should begin to experience less jealousy.
- It is often claimed that what we resist persists. Rather than trying to ignore these feelings of jealousy it may be better to examine them closely to find what lies behind them.
- Techniques such as mindfulness meditation can allow people to gain a deeper insight into their own emotions. This means that the individual becomes less of a prisoner of these emotions.
- A common reason for why people experience jealousy is that they compare themselves with other people. It is important to realize that each human is on their own path and comparisons are unhelpful and often wrong.
- It is helpful if people can focus on their own strengths and good points and build upon these.
- If people experience gratitude for all the good things they have in their life then they are less likely to feel jealous. Most people miss out on all that is right in their world because they are too focused on what is lacking.
- A gratitude journal is a good way to help the individual appreciate what they currently have in their life.
- Jealousy is often a sign of some inner conflict – it can be viewed as a type of warning light. Rather than looking at the object of this jealousy it is going to be more productive to examine the reasons for why it is occurring in the first place.
- If the individual is experiencing so much jealousy that it is interfering with their recovery it is advisable that they speak to a therapist. This destructive emotion will continue to cause problems until its root cause is tackled.
- Those who are following a spiritual path may find that this provides them with tools for overcoming negative emotions such as jealousy.