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How to Overcome Jealousy After a Break Up

Even if a break-up was inevitable and you're sure you are better off, it's commonplace to wonder how they've been doing, what they've been up to, and most importantly, whether they still miss you or they've moved on. Post break-up jealousy is sometimes an even bigger issue than the feelings you ultimately had during the relationship. When faced with the new dates your ex is going out with, it can raise your basic instincts to wonder why you weren't good enough and why these people have what your ex was really after. With no ability to protest, and a lot of potential for feeling angry, betrayed and disappointed, you may feel overwhelming jealousy. Fortunately, it is absolutely possible to tame your jealousy and move forward in a calm, happy and mature way.

Steps

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    Get yourself together. Repeat to yourself as much as it takes that eventually everything will turn out for the better. Remember that it is not a real, physical factor that instigates your anger, fear and panic. There is nothing coming up that threatens you; rather, it's all inside of you and your job is to get rid of it in order to feel in harmony again. Once you convince yourself you're safe, you will start feeling in control and capable of dealing with all sorts of negative emotions.
    • Take a head-on approach to your negative feelings. Rather than regarding them as inevitable and natural, seek ways to change them into helpful attitudes, ones that will support you rather than cause you to feel powerless and helpless. Be fully aware that negative emotions keep you connected to the loss, while a positive attitude allows you to let go of the person while still acknowledging that you once had a relationship with this person without causing you to feel upset.[1]
    • Be kind to yourself. Do you really need to put yourself through this? No!
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    Do not spend time thinking about what your jealousy is "actually" about. Focusing on the negative emotions will put you in a vulnerable position. You can easily confuse the anger and fear as meaning that you're still in love with your ex and that you need to get them back. Obsessing over their new flame - who they are, what they do, how they can be eliminated - is even worse and more dangerous. Thoughts about them will not help you realize what you don't like about yourself and what you need to change. Such thoughts will only trap you in more fear, self-doubt, pain, and jealousy and will prevent you from moving on.
    • Bear in mind that dissecting the nitty gritty of what could or should have been is living in the past by letting nostalgia trap you into a past period of life. Although often stated, the apt adage "It is better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all" is as equally often overlooked; yet, it is far healthier to appreciate that you once loved this person but that now it is time to move on. It is possible to cherish the experience for what it was without letting it drag you back all the time.
    • And if you really can't stop wondering, at its most basic, jealousy is about wanting something you feel you don't have. The only lesson for you to take away from this is to answer for yourself what it is that's missing inside of you and to remedy it by concentrating more on personal growth (see steps below). Think of it this way – even if you did get X person back, would this deep gnawing gap inside be filled? No – because no person can fill an internal dissatisfaction; only you have that power.
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    Look around. Yes, look around - your home, your office, your family, friends, career, etc. Acknowledge all the great people and opportunities surrounding you. Focus on the people who make you happy. Think of as many as possible nice things people have complimented you about; doing so will help you to start feeling confident and grateful, triggering you to want to accomplish more of the good stuff that brings you joy, salvages the burns from jealousy and fills the emptiness.
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    Get a buffer, at least in the beginning. If you're extremely lucky, you will rarely or never see your ex and their new boy-/girlfriend again. However, if you cannot avoid bumping into them, make sure you're not alone whenever you know you can't avoid the awkward encounter. Having a buffer, an accomplice, will make you feel more secure. Friends and colleagues will also distract you and prevent you from obsessing over the happy couple.
    • Listen to your friends and family. It is possible that they have a sound perspective of the situation as it has developed and can provide you with solid advice for coping with it. Don't automatically assume that they'll say anything just to make you feel better; look for the gems of truth.
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    Take the high road. Of course, you can't always be accompanied by someone else to help you balance the delicate situation. When the inevitable meet-up happens and you're by yourself, be both nice and reserved. It is essential to be polite, but no one expects from you to treat them as your best buddies. Trying that would look both awkward and insincere and would only stress you more.
    • Have quick exit excuses already planned, such as: "It's great to see you Bob/Jane. I'm sorry I can't stay and chat, I've got a hair appointment I'm already late for."; or "Great to see you Bob/Jane! Wish I could talk but I've got to collect my boss from the airport and the traffic's bad."; or, simply: "Hi Bob/Jane. It's good to see you looking so well. I'll see you around!" You don't need to offer an explanation unless you want to, but try your best not to give away your feelings through facial expressions or by brushing them off rudely.
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    Look your best. This is not in order to make your ex realize what he or she's lost (and want you back) or to prove to anyone that you're better than their new beloved one. Do it because you deserve it, you owe it yourself to shine and show the world the best you can be. There is no better remedy for overcoming jealousy and spite than a fresh infusion of self-confidence.
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    Keep yourself busy. Finding something to keep you occupied constantly will take up all your time, ensuring that at the end of the day you'll be too tired and proud of your accomplishments to even think about negative stuff. On the other hand, this will guarantee you the admiration and jealousy (!) of the others and once again convince you how amazing you are. This can be a great opportunity to let your creative side blossom and to improve professional self if you treat it as a time of personal growth and allow yourself the necessary opportunities.
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    Be your major priority. Whatever you do, remember that all your actions should be focused on moving on. Once you become the most important person in your life, you'll realize you've been moving on so fast, that the past will be too far behind to think about. Your ex and the other woman/man will be just a vague memory, a part of your experience and nothing more.

Tips

  • Remember all those things you never had the time to do because you were too busy with your relationship? Indulge in that juicy pile of unread magazines, spend a whole weekend working on your car, prepare yourself that sinfully delicious looking dessert or go to that new store you always drive by but never went into. Now you have both the opportunity and the necessity to keep busy with pleasant activities like these.
  • Change, change, change! Reorganize your apartment, paint some walls, get a new hairstyle. When you're done, do the same thing for your best friend. Any new improvement in your life will refresh your mind and make you feel much better.
  • There are more people out there!

Warnings

  • Flirt, but carefully! It is never recommended to rush into a new relationship immediately after a break-up. Even less so if your motive is to even the score or make your ex jealous. In the end you will just have more issues to deal with. Instead allow yourself healthy little portions of non-engaging flirty chatting or dancing once in a while. But no serious dating until you feel the ability and need to commit again.

Things You'll Need

  • Journal – for some people, writing down feelings is the best way of sorting through them
  • New opportunities and hobbies
  • Faith that everything will turn out the way it's meant to
  • Confidence in yourself
  • Trust in those whose only concern is you when they give advice/a shoulder to cry on . They are in a better place to see the bigger picture. Be humble, or, let the pain allow you to listen and take note. Then be proud you've done it!

Sources and Citations

  1. Stephanie Dowrick, Choosing Happiness, pp. 209-210, (2005), ISBN1-74114-521-X

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