prettyndsweet12 asks: Do you have any tips on controlling jealousy?
Hi prettyndsweet12 –
Jealousy is one of the most powerful emotions we have. Note the word “we.” We dogs can be very jealous – as any pooch who Handsome’s ever found adorable and cuddly has learned! “RRROOOWFF! I’ll teach you to let him scratch your belly!!”
All cultures have stories of jealousy. In The Bible, the first kids ever born have enough jealousy between them that one kills the other! That’s some nasty stuff!
I really like your question, because you didn’t ask how to get rid of jealousy (which is impossible), but how to control it. And that’s something anyone can do.
The trick is to realize that jealousy actually comes from a place of feeling that you’re not enough. When I get upset over Handsome playing with a puppy, it’s not because Handsome’s supposed to not like dogs (Heaven Forbid!) or that that puppy really has done anything wrong in my eyes. It’s that I get scared he’s going to love that dog and forget all about me! I know that’s silly – I jump all over people every day, and would never think of leaving Handsome! – but it’s true inside me. Similarly, if you’re dating a boy and he’s casually talking to some girl and you feel rage volcanoing up inside you, that’s because you’re worried that he doesn’t respect you, or that you’re not interesting enough.
This isn’t the most fun realization, I know. But you really can’t take jealousy on until you accept it.
Once you do, though, the next step is to allow your jealousy to be there! Actually to enjoy it! The fact is, there’s nothing wrong with my jumping onto those puppies and telling them who’s boss. Or of you grabbing that boyfriend away from that girl and reminding him that if he wants to do that, you might go up and kiss his worst enemy right on the lips just to make a point.
But there sure would be something wrong if, say, I jumped onto that puppy and tried to rip her up with my teeth. Or if you beat up that girl, or if you burst into sobbing tears when you saw them talk. Those would be cases where control is really needed.
But again, my guess is that if you accept the feeling, you can then be a lot cooler about it. For example, I would never hurt an innocent puppy. I just go up to her and growl and get on top of her – she understands everything perfectly then. Maybe you, with a cooler head, can think of good ways to deal with what makes you jealous. Here are some of my favorites:
– As in my earlier example, say something witty. It shows how cool you are, and keeps you from looking insecure. “Did she have anything interesting to say? Or didn’t you notice?”
– If someone’s making you jealous by being truly better at something than you, then try to get better at it. Or emphasize the things you’re better at than they are. If she’s a better gymnast than you, decimate her on the math exam.
– Be vulnerably open about it. “She sure is beautiful. Oh what I’d give to have her legs.” It’s amazing how a comment like that can disarm your own jealousy, and the power someone might have over others in your life.
– Befriend the person you’re jealous of. Once you get to know them better, you’ll see a lot of qualities they have that you’ll be grateful you don’t share. A lot of the prettiest dogs I know come from homes where they’re not half as fawned over as I am in mine.
– And that leads to the biggest and best way to control jealousy. Which is to remember what you’re thankful for. Both for what you get from others and for what is true about yourself. For example, I know from your letters that you’re a very deep, soulful, thinking person. Do you ever sit down and ponder about how amazing that is?! Sure someone else is richer, or more popular, or more skilled in some areas. But just as it would be silly for me to be mired in jealousy over elephants for being bigger than me, the great things about you are simply true, and have nothing to do with those other people.
And the more you can concentrate on what’s good, and great, and downright fascinating, about yourself, the more control you’ll have over your jealousy.
And here’s proof. Handsome’s right outside the window right now, petting a neighbor’s dog on the head. And I feel so good about writing you that it isn’t bothering me at…
Hey, that mutt just licked him. Wait, it’s standing up on him and licking him in the face… and Handsome is LOVING it! What?! It just knocked him to the ground and they’re tumbling over each other play-fighting… Well I’m gonna show that pooch what real fighting is like! Wait’ll you get a dose of ME in that face of yours!
Good luck, prettyndsweet12! I gotta go!!!!!!