We have all experienced that feeling.
That uneasy feeling you get when someone at work gets the promotion you had hoped for, when someone gets too flirty with your partner, or when your best friend starts to get too close to someone else.
I am, of course, talking about jealousy.
Jealousy is a complex emotion that can give rise to several different emotions like fear, rage, and humiliation.
And contrary to what many may think, feeling jealous doesn’t necessarily make you a bad person.
It is human nature to be envious of someone when they have what you want or when you perceive them as a threat.
If you start feeling jealous all the time, or if it becomes your second nature, that’s when it becomes a problem.
Anyway, today I am going to talk about the root causes of jealousy.
I hope that this will help you understand why you may be feeling jealous and then use this understanding to turn things around.
But before that, let’s take a look at some common types of jealousy to give you some context.
Common Types of Jealousy
Although there are many different types of jealousy, these are the ones that are most apparent.
1) Jealousy In Romantic Relationships
I am sure this is something that everyone has experienced.
When you are in a relationship with someone, and you see someone else getting close to your partner, you are bound to feel jealous.
This is especially more pronounced when you are married to your partner.
Even though there is love in the relationship, things can quickly take a turn for the worse if a third party gets involved.
It may give rise to suspicion even though you have trusted your partner all along.
It may make you fearful that you might lose your partner, especially when you feel that the other person is better than you in some regard.
Your partner may feel that you are behaving irrationally.
They may also feel insulted that you would suspect them of any wrongdoing.
Of course, this can lead to a lot of strife between the two of you, and the relationship can get damaged.
2) Jealousy In Friendship
This is another common form of jealousy that I think most of us have experienced.
It’s quite similar to jealousy in a romantic relationship.
But obviously, in this case, romance is not involved.
When you feel like your best friend is getting too close to someone else, you might feel the sting.
Even though you are absolutely fine with your friend making more friends, you inexplicably feel jealous at the same time.
This just goes to show you how complex human behavior is.
You might perceive (rightly or wrongly) that the other person is trying to take your friend away from you.
But worse, you might perceive that your friend wants to leave you for a much better and more interesting person.
This, too, can create strifes in your friendship.
3) Jealousy Amongst Siblings
This type of jealousy is often seen between two or more siblings.
And it generally stems from the need of each child to become their parents’ favorite.
Interestingly, this can start happening from a really young age.
When a second child is born to a couple, the first one might feel jealous as they might think that the newborn will take away all the attention of their parents.
Even when siblings are growing up together, you can observe that each tries their best to get more attention from their parents.
There can also be jealousy amongst siblings when they are made to share things.
It could be toys, books, clothes, food, and other facilities.
And if parents favor one child over the other, consciously or unconsciously, this jealousy can only become worse.
4) Jealousy About Other People’s Success
This is perhaps the most common form of jealousy.
When someone else becomes successful in any way whatsoever, you can’t help but feel a little jealous.
That’s because you, too, want to have what they have.
This is often seen in the workplace.
When a coworker gets the promotion you wanted, you will obviously feel a little bad.
When your colleague gets more praise for a project that you worked on together, again, you might feel jealous.
Feelings of jealousy can also arise when someone buys things that you would like to have too.
It could be a new car, a house, cool new home appliances, a vacation, and so on.
5) Abnormal Jealousy
This type of jealousy stems from completely unreasonable or baseless perceptions.
For instance, a person may think that their family, friends, colleagues, or even strangers are unfaithful to them.
They may not have any concrete reason to believe so, but they do anyway.
This can cause people like these to be jealous of others and act in completely irrational ways.
This type of jealousy is also often seen in people suffering from dementia, schizophrenia, or other mental illnesses. In this case, the person doesn’t have control over what they think and how they perceive things and people.
The Root Causes of Jealousy
Jealousy can stem from a variety of sources.
Since human behavior is so complex, there can be endless causes for why someone feels jealous.
However, largely, we can divide the root causes of jealousy into four categories.
There could obviously be more, but these are the most commonly seen.
1) Fear of Loss
I think this is self-explanatory.
When you fear that you might lose something or someone that you care about to someone else, you might feel quite jealous.
In your mind, that person becomes a threat, and you feel this need to eliminate that threat so that things can go back to normal.
So, for instance, if you think that your spouse is getting closer to someone, you might feel like you will lose them.
So, you might start asking your partner about that person more often.
You might even talk to your spouse about how you feel and may ask them to refrain from talking to that other person too much.
This could be wrong on your side because your spouse may not be doing anything wrong. But since you have that fear inside you, you can’t help how you act.
This fear can also show itself in the workplace.
For instance, when a subordinate keeps performing well and surpassing all expectations, you might take them as a threat.
You might think that they may be promoted to your position, and you might get fired.
Again, you have a fear of loss of your position that may make you behave differently.
This has to do with your self-esteem.
If you are naturally the type of person who has a high sense of self-worth, you won’t be bothered much by others.
However, if you have insecurities about yourself, this can manifest as jealousy in many different areas of life.
For instance, when your friend starts spending more time with someone new, your insecurities might kick in.
You might start thinking that your friend considers the other person more interesting and friendlier than you.
This might not be the case at all.
But, in your mind, this becomes your reality.
You just feel like you are not good enough for them.
The same is seen commonly in romantic relationships.
This insecurity can also show up as jealousy in the workplace.
When a colleague gets promoted to a higher position, you might feel jealous because you might think you are not good enough for that position.
The same goes for when other people buy houses, cars, or live luxurious lives.
You might feel like you just don’t have what it takes to buy those things or live that life. And so, you feel jealous.
3) Obsessive Thinking
Some people have a habit of overthinking.
Their minds are constantly trying to create simulations of different scenarios and creating anxieties and worries out of thin air.
This can inadvertently lead them to feel jealous.
Let’s take an example to understand this better.
Let’s say you are an obsessive thinker.
Now, when your husband starts coming home late for a few days in a row, your mind might start doing some gymnastics.
It might create all sorts of questions (why is he late, what is he doing, has he started seeing someone else, etc.)
There is no limit to the types of scenarios an obsessive mind can create. When that happens, it is only natural for you to feel jealous (even though there might not be any reason to do so).
This obsessive thinking can lead to jealousy in virtually any type of scenario.
You might become jealous due to overthinking in your workplace, at your home, while dealing with your friends, and so on.
I think it would be safe to say that Paranoia is obsessive thinking on steroids.
In this case, a person becomes so untrusting of others that they think that everybody is out to get them.
They think that everyone has ill intentions toward them.
So, you can see why such people would be jealous all the time.
They would think that their partner is cheating on them and become jealous of an imaginary person.
They would think that their coworkers have wronged them to get ahead of them at work.
They would also think that their siblings are trying to sabotage their relationships with their parents. In all the cases, they end up feeling jealous of other people.
The sad part is that it is very hard for such people to see reality the way it is.