How can we Heal this Ancient Virus of Jealousy?

May 22, 2020

The whole world is engaged in fighting against the virus, COVID-2019. Do we know that this health virus could be an outcome of a moral virus of jealousy? Of course it is too early to go into this delicate and complex problem of the root cause of the deadly virus. But the virus of jealousy has constantly accompanied mortals from the very dawn of human civilization. Imagine the fall of the first parents in the Bible. How the wily Satan felt jealous of two fragile humans living in paradise so happily. The whole story of the temptation did not stop there. The first siblings Cain and Abel were so jealous of each other, that one killed the other. Rightly, therefore, the wise man Shakespeare warns all of us thorough his character Iago, in ‘Othello’: ‘Oh, beware, my Lord, of jealousy; It is the green-eyed monster which doth mocks the
meat it feeds on’.

We all need to be very careful of jealousy because it raises its head most unexpectedly. There may not be any person born in this little planet who has not tasted its bitterness. There is jealousy among siblings, among couples, among lovers, among colleagues, among business entrepreneurs, among politicians, among religious and even among nuns, priests, sages, monks and gurus!

My friend, just married the other day came to me with the bitter complaint that he is angry, frustrated and depressed. “What went wrong, Sir?” I asked with innocent curiosity. “Now I am married, but my newly wedded partner imagines that I have not stopped flirting. She gets so upset when I smile at any girl, greet my colleague, speak or joke with my students. She blasts me as if I have made all of them my darlings and just ready to betray my marital vow. How can I lead my public and social life when my wife is on fire with jealousy?”

Two classmates quite successful in their respective business enterprises in the same town are no more on talking terms as one incurred some loss and the other made profit and improved his business. Jealousy separated two thick friends!

I can vouch from my personal experience, that jealousy is very rampant in the institutions of higher learning. The parents of a student brought their daughter to me with a strange narration that their daughter overnight started behaving as if possessed - shouting, yelling, crying, beating herself and finally repeating again and again that she wants to die. During counselling I came to know that her fiancé suddenly deserted her as he found another fiancée. This girl was so jealous of the other girl that she wanted simply to eliminate her.

Jealousy is an emotion that emerges when you feel you are going to lose something, maybe your loved one, your prestige, honour, position, status or social image. You are afraid that if your partner has another friend, you may lose her/him; if your colleague is promoted, you will lose your job; if your friend makes profit you, will lose your business; if my neighbour wins elections, you might be esteemed lower than him, so on and so forth.

Jealousy is a tricky feeling, sometimes it lies concealed, but manifests in our actions. Everyone knows that you are acting out of jealousy, but you are not aware of it. Other times, it erupts so suddenly that you get angry, feel lost, insecure, empty and frustrated. Truly it is a complex emotion and not easy to handle.

Jealousy is hardly seen among strangers. It is always among those who share life, those who interact with each other, those who collaborate in the thick and thin of life. Hence, closer the relationship, stronger the emotion of jealousy. Secondly, it always goes with envy. Both act as if they are siblings. I know a case where a younger brother built a new house, and the elder brother was so envious to see a new and modern house adjacent to his, that he built just next to that another new house more posh and more elegant, that people walking along the lane in front could point out and say that it is the house of the elder brother.

How to tackle the feelings of envy and jealousy? First of all, they are feelings or emotions, neither good nor bad in themselves, but are simply part of our life. It is humanity that has classified emotions as good and bad, positive and negative. All emotions are to be treated as integral to our existence in this world where no one is an island. Our attitude towards all feelings and emotions should be one of acceptance. The more you reject your feelings, the more you strengthen them, the more you react, and the more you make them problematic. Just accept them and dissolve them into your body as salt is dissolved in water. Close your eyes and observe feelings descending into your mind, then down into your body one by one and getting dissolved in your blood. This should be our primary medicine for all feelings and emotions both positive and negative.

Secondly, know that no person, no thing or situation can make you happy. Happiness is something internal and you have to create it within you. All happiness derived due to external causes is transitory and superficial. If you are not happy within, no external reality, even your life partner, children etc, can make you happy. If you are already happy within, then they can enhance it and make you a fulfilled being. No jealousy can disturb you if you are happy within.

Thirdly, build up trust in and through all your relationships with every human person you encounter, beginning from your life partner and then your children and all the others. Without trust no human enterprise is possible. Invest your thoughts and energies to lay a strong foundation of trust in all your undertakings even through your banal daily activities. Jealousy can be uprooted through trust, which functions as a strong defence against jealousy.

Fourthly, anticipate the triggering moment of jealousy and train yourself to maintain distance. Imagine your husband is flirting with another young beauty. Just feel how your jealousy is aroused, and you feel helpless to intervene but experience a deep sense of insecurity, loss, betrayal and anger. Then create a mental distance between you and him, so that you can grant him the freedom to live his life. Do not react but reflect and say again and again: ‘I am safe, I am safe in myself. I have my worth and my good qualities. He is another person, different from me, with his independence. He has the freedom to live his life’. Then maintain a short silence and accept yourselves as you are and affirm your existence.

This exercise will help to strengthen your bond. The more you recognize his independence to be himself, the more you receive love, esteem and security. No marriage can remain stable in the contemporary world if this mental distance and independence are not granted to married partners. This also demands a self-understanding of what you are. I am I, and she/he is she/he. We have an independent existence with enough freedom to act independently. This kind of mindset will resolve a thousand problems of day to day life. Please know that love is not tangible. There are many manifestations of love but love in itself is intangible and volatile. What proof do I have that s/he is committed to me? Love is not mathematics, it is chemistry!



By Sr Dr Judy Lewis
Sr Dr Judy Lewis UFS is a clinical psychologist and counsellor.
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Comment on this article

  • Dr Mohan Prabhu, LL.D, QC, Mangalore (Kankanady)/Ottawa, Canada

    Sat, May 23 2020

    A very perceptive article, brilliant.
    I agree jealousy and envy go together, many a time - the latter particularly among strangers, or even neighbours who do not know each other but are envious of the "show off".. is it kind of challenge?
    We must concede that these two emotions are innate to humans and planted in them from the dawn of creation - if not for those emotions, we would all be living in a (fool's) paradise!!!

  • Veera, Mangalore

    Sat, May 23 2020

    Dear Sr. Judy Congratulation well written article. Jealousy has no medicine. It is dangerous virus than corona or coved- 19. Jealousy person even ready to destroy the life of the person in the community or in the family like spoiling the name of the person, giving wrong information to the authority people and finally make the person to transfer to new community. Jealousy person will always think negative of the other person. Those who have high level of jealousy they are always remain problematic in the community and for such people no one will accept, they make groups in the community. Let us be aware of our virus of jealousy.

  • Gracy, Mangalore

    Sat, May 23 2020

    Dear Sr Judith,
    Thanks for the article ....though ancient virus but most dangerous even today. It is not only emotion but poison in human being that destroy oneself and all those live in and around them. As Late Wilfy Rebimbus said in one of his song that Jealousy has no medicine... so it very dangerous like Covid - 19. Those who need unity and love need to realize about the poison Jealousy and work on it.....this leads to true peace.. Congratulations dear Sr. Judith.............continue to enlighten people .........those suffer may find awareness and inner healing through your efforts. God bless you.

  • wilson, Mangalore

    Sat, May 23 2020

    if he/she becomes victim of jealousy, it is very difficult to treat them by counselling or inner healing because they will not listen anybody saying that they are right by showing others faults.

  • Sr. Ancy M, Mangalore

    Sat, May 23 2020

    Yes Sr. Judy ...we are very much aware and give enough protection to our body from attack of the virus that is outside but often fail to become aware of the virus within...virus of jealousy and ego.
    We are catechized and we catechise to be free from the virus of jealousy. .....yet find persons unhappy, unsatisfied and complaining in the community. ..
    are not successful and fruitful in ministry because of the virus of jealousy and ego .. every move , every step we take we wait for name and fame....and lot of social works are done in the name of.......and more time is consumed in keeping record of the little good that we do while we forget the rest and fail to give time to self. to reflect our actions , our thoughts, and motives
    ..strive hard to shine before others and only we sing in the chapel shine for Jesus...
    ..find no meaning in religious life today ... so find more cases of religious people discontinue from religious life today...let us put efforts to be aware of our feelings and emotions and know finally what are striving for?

  • Dan M, Dubai / Mangalore

    Sat, May 23 2020

    Apart from following above guidance it is worthwhile to know other available options as,

    Jealousy is very dangerous!.

    Interesting self questions and answers to be learnt and understood seriously! on emotions, feelings and thoughts by all for attaining a happy and contented life.

    Is Love coming from mind or heart ?? What about peace, joy, self control, understanding, faith, humility, gentleness, forgiveness...??

    Is Lust coming from heart or mind ?? What about hatred, jealousy, anger, fear, anxiety, pride, greed, unforgiveness ...??

    Always hear, action and live from heart and not from mind to lead a happy life. Also

    Say or think I love it (jealousy or any other felt negative emotions) to surrender it to God, to overcome it with the help of God over the time, as God is love - 1 John 4:8. So one is always peaceful, come what may.

  • Nanu Marol, Thottam

    Sat, May 23 2020

    Dear Sr Judy

    A wonderful article penned down by you.Your enlighten the effects of Jealousy to all segments and completed a Full Life Cycle.Jealousy is part and parcel of life and we use to live with it.Congratulations Once Again Sr Judy.Your regular write ups on different subjects comparing with human psychology may benefit to society .Thank you Sister.May God Bless you in your tiredless Mission.

  • Sameer Sequeira, Mangaluru

    Sat, May 23 2020

    Dear Sr,
    Very interesting and informative article. Congratulations!!! On writing such an article. Hope everyone reads it. All the best for many more

  • Gilbert Menezes, Melbourne

    Sat, May 23 2020

    Human is a special creation! 7.8 billion living population in the world to date and not a single fingerprint is matching! That is the magnitude of creation glory! Each and everyone is different with a special talent and we should learn to celebrate/appreciate everyone's talent and success. Unfortunately in today's world, we complete with each other which makes way for jealousy and envy destroying humanity! We should celebrate life with truth and trust and rest all will fall in place creating happiness in life, developing peaceful and prosperous societies, nations, and the world! Good article Sr. Judy, and I am sure it will inspire many people to understand the virus of jealousy!

  • Trenitha Ferrao, Mangaluru, Bejai

    Sat, May 23 2020

    Thanks for this article sister....Jealousy will destroy not only oneself but the entire community too. Being positive and creating a healthy atmosphere help to live in harmony .
    Thank you sister for the awareness.

  • Asha Monteiro, Kasaragod, Ukkinadka

    Sat, May 23 2020

    Very inspiring. ..You have made aware of my self worth. .
    When I accept myself just as I am and give importance to be aware of my feelings and emotions ...I become a person happy within ...
    accepts myself just as I am. ...
    Satisfied and full of love..
    Never be in a waiting list of names. ..fame...and acceptance from the other..
    Thank you Sr. Judy

  • Rudolf, udupi

    Sat, May 23 2020

    Thank you Rev Sr for informative article. Not sure why some time we want to do good but not doing and don't want to bad things but end up doing.

  • Mangalurian, Mangaluru

    Sat, May 23 2020

    Thank you for a great article.

    I was told that big J disappears by the time people of some genders turn 40.

    Obviously not so...

    ...back to the drawing board.

  • Fr Vincent D Souza, Capuchin, Mogarnad

    Sat, May 23 2020

    Dear Sr Judy, thanks a lot for this enlightening article. Jealously can destroy an individual person, family and the Community. Most of the time jealousy shatters human relationships. It will not do any good. In order to come out from the so called disease of Jealousy, we need to develop an attitude of appreciating others, always speaking good about others and be happy about the success of others. Then only we can build up healthy families, healthy communities, healthy society. Sr Judy has rightly pointed out the ways to come out from jealousy.

  • Shanthi, Mumbai

    Sat, May 23 2020

    Sr. interesting article. very informative

  • veena Maria, Mangalore

    Sat, May 23 2020

    Yes Sr. Judy I agree with you. Jealousy person behave varied. A symptom of jealous person is, staring at others, Gossip, Grouping, stick on one person, varied laugh, commanding behavior, using the defense mechanism in order to hide oneself error. Such people will destroy in the family, community, society, or in the work place. Such people need counselling or inner healing psychotherapy or treatment.

  • James Fernandes, Barkur Chicago

    Sat, May 23 2020

    "Jealousy-thy-name-is-women". Is-this-true?
    Or human? Chemistry or mathematics? Or diabetes?

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