Character Defects: Jealousy

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Character Defects: Jealousy

In the program of recovery, we often hear the term ‘character defects.’ Specifically, we talk about bringing awareness to character defects, as a foundation for consciously replacing them with positive behaviors. This is the premise of steps six and seven of the twelve-step program.

What is a Character Defect?

While the idea that character defects should be changed may seem obvious, it is often difficult to determine what exactly a character defect is. A shortcoming or character defect is a learned character trait or behavior that we participate in as a means of survival. Some of these defects are innate and we seem to be born with them. Others are a bit more complex and we often might not even recognize them as harmful.

Pride, for example, is usually seen in a very positive light. Maintaining a level of pride in your work is something to aspire towards. However, being prideful can cause a myriad of problems between yourself and others. Pride prevents people from ever getting truly honest and vulnerable, creating walls and barriers that are difficult to penetrate.

It can be so destructive that you might even find yourself pretending you don’t care about things that are actually important to you. Oftentimes, you don’t even realize you’re acting this way. Or perhaps you think you are protecting yourself. Unfortunately, the reality is that being prideful results in living your life guarded and disconnected from your fellows, which is no way to live.

Recognizing Jealousy as a Harmful Character Defect

Jealousy is another highly destructive character defect. It is often recognized specifically within romantic relationships. For example, a girlfriend who tells her boyfriend he can’t be friends with girls is acting out in jealousy. Similarly, when you see an ex post a picture of themselves with a new partner, you may feel jealous. Of course, this feeling isn’t limited solely to romantic relationships and can occur in any type of relationship.

Maybe you think your parents favor your sibling over you. Perhaps your boss never recognizes your hard work and gives the promotion you think you deserve to a coworker. There are countless ways in which we can experience jealousy.

Unfortunately, while being quite common, jealousy is an incredibly painful emotion, especially when we allow it to take over our actions and decision making. Consequently, evolutionary psychologists suggest that when you notice jealousy cropping up, it should be recognized as a warning sign that a valued relationship may be in danger. From there, you can take the steps necessary to ensure that you don’t act out in this character defect, and choose healthy behaviors instead.

Where Does Jealousy Come From?

Research has proven that the root causes and key motivators of extreme jealousy include low self-esteem, high levels of neurosis, feelings of possessiveness of others, particularly romantic partners, and fear of abandonment.

Jealousy in Men vs Women

Men and women can both feel jealous. Some evidence does suggest that in the context of romantic relationships, men feel greater jealousy centered around the fear of sexual infidelity. Women, on the other hand, tend to experience more jealousy in relation to the fear of emotional infidelity in romantic relationships.

Learning to Deal With Jealousy in a Healthy Way

Jealousy can be valuable to an extent, as any defect of character can be used as an asset. However, it has more potential to destroy relationships than it does to improve them. And when gone unchecked, jealousy can cause people to obsess and monitor another’s communication, relationships, and whereabouts in an attempt to control them.

When you notice yourself obsessing over what someone is doing or trying to monitor and control someone’s behavior, take a step back, and ask yourself if you are feeling jealous. Awareness of jealousy is the first step. Once you can name how you are feeling, you can consciously choose how you will respond.

Give yourself the gift of self-reflection and begin cultivating coping skills and new behaviors to practice when you notice jealous emotions and/or behaviors cropping up. Often, communication is a crucial coping skill to learn, as being honest with your loved one about jealous feelings can spur productive conversations about what needs aren’t being met and how to resolve the issue.

How to Seek Support Navigating Feelings of Jealousy

Learning to grow through feelings of jealousy is a process and support can come from many different avenues. For some, working on self-esteem and self-love by incorporating a consistent self-care routine greatly reduces feelings of jealousy. This could include eating well, getting active, connecting with social support, getting enough sleep, and practicing daily positive affirmations.

Practicing these behaviors increases feelings of self-worth, resulting in a decreased fear of abandonment. However, keep in mind that you don’t have to figure this out all alone. Therapy has proven to be lifechanging for many, in these regards, providing guidance and accountability while navigating feelings of jealousy.

If you are struggling with substance use as a result of painful emotions such as jealousy, or are seeking a higher level of support, you might consider the option of attending a treatment facility like The Kimberly Center. We offer a variety of therapeutic techniques and solutions that can help you recover. Your journey to a happier and healthier life can start right now. Call us today for more information, at (855)-452-3683.

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