Inner Connect



Jealousy-are you the one feeling jealous?

Imagine yourself in the following situations; what might your thoughts, feelings, and desired actions be like?
➔ You’re a 2-year old kid busy playing with some toys. When you look up searching for your mother, you see her holding another baby.
➔ You’re a primary school student who’s having a great time playing with a friend during recess. A classmate of yours walks towards both of you and asks if he can join? Your friend readily agrees and starts playing with him.
➔ You’re the most sought after debater of your school. Your class has a new student this year who is also a seasoned debater. Your teachers are now wondering if she should represent the school at an inter-school competition next week?
➔ You and your best friend tell one another everything important about your lives. A chance conversation with a mutual friend and you find something that you didn’t already know about your best friend but the mutual friend did.
➔ You’re attracted to an acquaintance and want to ask him out on a date. Your friends are sure he’s into you and that he will say yes. A few days later, they advise you against asking him out since he’s lately been posting a lot of pictures with someone on Instagram and they think something is brewing between the two.
➔ You’re in a committed relationship and your partner has been singing praises about how awesome her boss is. He recently promoted her and wants her to accompany him on their next client meeting to a different city.
➔ One of your most talented employees has handed over his resignation letter to you. Reason? He’s been offered a better-paying job by your arch rivals.
➔ You wish to spend some quality time with your husband. He’s busy scanning his phone and continues to do so even when you sit next to him.
➔ Your son looks up to you and fulfills all your wishes. He wants to marry someone he loves. You don’t approve of his choice but he doesn’t budge
➔ Your granddaughter spends every summer break with you but she didn’t do so last year and has cancelled on you this year too. Reasons? Professional work last year and an upcoming trip with friends this year.
If you find yourself disturbed and threatened by the actual or imagined presence of someone else (aka, the “rival” or “third person”)– the baby, the classmate, the new student, the mutual friend, the one with whom your romantic interest is putting up pictures on Instagram, the boss, your arch rival, your husband’s phone and everything you think he might be interested in, your son’s love interest, your granddaughter’s work and friends…and it seems to you as if this third person is taking away the attention, love, and affection you deserve, then you’re feeling jealous. You may feel driven to either break/ weaken the relationship between your partner (be it a friend, boss, teacher, colleague, parent, spouse, etc.) and the third person so that you get your partner’s attention, love, and affection (and not the “third” person). Jealousy can prompt you to question the very foundations of your relationship.

Most psychologists agree that jealousy as an emotional reaction can crop up in any significant relationship, at any age (even in infants), gender, socioeconomic status, no bar. The terms envy and jealousy are often used interchangeably, but there’s a key difference between them. If you desire what another has, then you’re envious of her/ him (eg., when you view someone’s profile on a social media portal and say to yourself, “I wish my life was like hers”). However, if you feel another is taking away what you have, then you’re jealous of her/ him (“It’s because of her that my boyfriend is being mean to me.”). Envy and jealousy can but don’t necessarily coexist.

Jealousy is usually accompanied by several unpleasant emotions– sadness, fear, shame, embarrassment, anger, insecurity, guilt, inferiority. When consumed by it, your focus moves away both from self-care, and from nurturing your relationships with others. Instead, you become preoccupied with the “what”, “how”, and “why” of others’ behavior and/ or you’re constantly thinking along the lines of, “What’s wrong with me?”, never quite arriving at a constructive response. One way or the other, your well-being takes a hit.  As literary critic Parul Sehgal explained in a TED Talk in 2013, when we’re feeling jealous, “we tell ourselves a story that is designed to torture us”. We begin to look at our situation with much intensity but the higher the jealousy, the lower the accuracy of our story.

Whether you’re the one feeling jealous, or are in a significant relationship with someone who is feeling so, the experience can be quite draining and distressing. What makes it harder to deal with is the range and complexity of emotions it brings with it. Feeling upset that your love interest rejected your advances and started dating someone else is one thing. But feeling so upset that you want and/ or harm your love interest and/ or her/ his chosen partner, and/ or yourself in the process, that’s unhealthy and unfortunate for everyone involved.

It is important to recognise if and when your behavior is turning morbid/ pathological- this recognition often paves way for the required interventions. Whether pathological or not, there is hardly any goodness, if at all any, that jealousy brings with it. Psychotherapy can help you cope with all the baggage that comes with jealousy, and also reduce its potential negative impact. With the support of a skilled therapist, you can learn to recognise, explore, and gradually dispute your feelings of jealousy, thereby making room for healthier relationships not only with others, but also with yourself.


  1. Hart, S. L. (2016). Proximal Foundations of Jealousy: Expectations of Exclusivity in the Infant’s First Year of Life. Retrieved July 2020, from
  2. Sehgal, P. (2013).: An ode to envy | TED Talk. Retrieved July 2020, from

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