There’s Nothing “Just” About Jealousy

aloneOh he’s just jealous. He’ll get over it. It’s a growing experience. Act jealous back and see how he likes it. Jealousy is a sin; there’s something wrong with you if you feel jealous. Get over it. 

Sound familiar?

The above statements are very common and usually applied in the context of romantic relationships. Today I saw variations of the above applied to discussing a child whose formative infant years included separation from his mother. Of course he’s jealous.

Whether it is this situation, or romantic jealousy, or other scenarios, the one thing we all need to remember is this:

Jealousy is a symptom – usually of needs being threatened or not met.

  • Insecurity – needing reassurance of one’s own value or that one’s needs will be met.
  • Need for time, attention, nurturing, and both physical and emotional safety.
  • Fear of loss, abandonment, and/or being replaced.
  • Competition jealousy – usually another symptom of any of the above. We want to be uniquely valued.

So how do you deal with jealousy?

If you are helping a child, the first step is to talk about the fears that the child has and ways to address them. That takes patience, spending one-on-one time, reassurance of love, and discussing the fears in a respectful way.

If it is a romantic partner or other relationship, it is much the same. Discuss the fears and where they are coming from. Explore ways to counter the fears. The fears could be real too; the person feeling jealous might have real reasons to fear loss, and this fear can even lead to behaviors that are self-fulfilling. If the fear cannot be eliminated, let’s at least deal with the issues in a respectful manner.

There is that word again: respectful. The worst way of dealing with jealousy is with judgment; compassion and respect are required instead.

Yes, some people have a greater tendency for jealousy. And you might decide that you cannot be in a relationship with someone who is prone to this symptom of their fears. Just understand that it is a symptom, especially if you are the one who experiences jealousy because your solution will be to build your self and your life in a way that allows for greater levels of security.

We also want to help our children avoid or counter jealousy, and this is important. Telling them that it shouldn’t happen or that it is just wrong is going to reinforce the jealousy. They are not “just jealous” – they are just exhibiting a symptom of some underlying issues that need to be dealt with. 

Those of us who learned as children that we could not trust that our parents would be there or protect us have some extra challenges. Some of us just don’t allow people to get close enough to hurt us and can proudly claim we don’t get jealous. Can’t be jealous when you don’t have a source of that fear! For those of us who do take that risk, it’s soul-deep.

Personally, I have the benefit of being aware of all of the above from a young age, so I used to not understand – and was admittedly irritated with – people who would get jealous. I had very little patience for it.  That doesn’t mean that I never had fear or hurt or even anger; it means that I always targeted the source of those emotions. Now that I understand why people experience jealousy, I can be more understanding. I can also help prevent jealousy of loved ones by being mindful of the sources, and having a clue on how to address issues when they do come up.

Because they are never just jealous. There’s no such thing.

 

 

 

Revisiting Past Trauma: Let the Voices Speak

quotes_silence_writing_1440x900_17474When I try to talk for the first time about a traumatic event from the past, especially childhood, I find it difficult to get any words to come forth. I will open and close my mouth several times, like a fish gasping for air. When I do manage to speak, the word choices are those that I would have used when that age. I am not talking about “baby talk” because I had a ridiculously expansive vocabulary at a young age. I mean that the words reflect my perspective of the time, such as a lack of understanding or what to call something. I can then switch to my current self’s perspective and analyze what was, but I have to leave the mode of describing the actual event itself.
 
When trying to write about events as part of my focus this month, I shouldn’t have been surprised that this same struggle happened. It wasn’t until I allowed for this dual voice to “take turns” that I started to get any flow to the writing coming forth. There are some events that I still haven’t tried to describe yet, and there’s a fear there that causes me to hesitate. I think it’s because I have to, at least once, “go back” to that time and place for at least the first telling; after that, I can retell from more of a distance. There are some places that are very difficult to revisit and I wonder if there is such thing as being strong enough.
 
Why do this? I have found that the events I have been able to describe no longer hold power over me, plus I gain a source of wisdom or power from facing them. If you think of it as a game, this is a way to level up. I have helped hundreds of others, and this is a way of helping myself (which, in turn, enables me to help others even more).
 
Meanwhile, I have to live current day life, so I have to pull myself back together after writing – sometimes easier said than done – to do other things, even go places and see people. There’s been some tough days, but so far I’m making it. Luckily there is a finite number of these stories to transcribe, and this won’t take me forever to do. And then what will I do with them? Stash them away, throw them in the Beltane fires, or share them? Not something I have to decide today. 

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Gaslighting

Gaslighting article image use only for thisHave you experienced this before?

Shea Emma Fett explains that gaslighting is “when someone tries to tell you who you are, what you feel, what you think, what you intended, or what you experienced.”

A person doing this might also “rewrite” you to others, spreading this rewritten version of you. “It is hard to stand firm when one person is trying to replace your experience, but when they have a chorus of supporters, it is nearly impossible.”

Gaslighting does not require deliberate plotting. Gaslighting only requires a belief that it is acceptable to overwrite another person’s reality. The rest just happens organically when a person who holds that belief feels threatened.”

“The end game is not confrontation, it’s non-engagement.”

Read full article by Shea Emma Fett

 

 

Not Broken

Neurotypical syndrome is a neurobiological disorder characterized by preoccupation with social concerns, delusions of superiority, and obsession with conformity.

think do what told

The above quote, on a page titled the Institute for the Study of the Neurologically Typical, is offered by Autism.org as a parody. It takes the same framing often used for neurodivergent perception and behavior, and applies it to neurotypicals (aka “normal” people) in a way that hopefully causes you to think.

Or to rethink.

Similarly, the following short video by Rethinking Autism packs a punch. By offering the perspective of somebody with autism, people have cried in relief of finally having something represent their views, or in frustration and confusion. This video has mostly been well-received, but some parents voiced concern that it might represent them in a poor light, and others expressed confusion over the responses offered from the autistic perspective.  Just remember that this confusion is the very reason why the video needed to be made; this is the voice that needs to be heard more often.  It’s a matter of personal agency. View the video and see what you think.

Those who are neurodivergent are so often told to adjust to neurotypical ways without equal effort of those who are typical to adjust to neurodiverse ways. Often “broken” aspects are not necessarily bad, just different, and often better. Yes, better. You might not agree, depending on your personal perspective, but these different ways can be preferred from a personal or even socio-cultural view. Many times, whether or not a way of thinking or being is valued depends on time and location. Beyond this, it is often those who do not “fit in” that rock our world and make the changes for which we are later grateful.

Human competence is defined by the values of the culture to which you belong. ~ Thomas Armstrong, author of Neurodiversity

Thomas Armstrong shares a pre-Civil War era article about a mental disorder among slaves. The symptoms? They wanted to run away. Obviously something was wrong with them, and this “disorder” required medical treatment. I hope this sounds absurd to you. I also hope that we can become more aware of the influence of society’s “supposed to’s” and learn to overcome them.

I love Armstrong’s section titles, but I will just share one more for now because it echoes something that The McAuliffe School often teaches:

Whether you are regarded as disabled or gifted depends largely on when and where you were born.

How many times have I said to people, “You are not broken” when in reality they definitely had some damage to overcome? However, the phrase is usually heard with grateful relief, and that is when the healing can begin.   The McAuliffe School often spends much time detoxing students and their parents from previous experiences, replacing the negative views with affirmations that you are strong. You have gifts. Okay, so you have quirks and you need to develop strategies to deal with some things; we all do, every single one of us, neurodivergent and typical both. Learn to play nicely with the neurotypical “natives” while also surrounding yourself with a support system of those who value you exactly how you are. As Chris Brogan encourages all of us to do: find your freaks.  You’ll be in good company, and it’s your privilege to do so.

Privilege of a lifetime is being who you are. ~ Joseph Campbell

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