Is Jealousy a Normal Human Emotion?

Photo by Obie Fernandez 

Yes, every human emotion we have – like love, hate, anger, anxiety – is ‘normal’. There are no abnormal ones! They are all mechanisms, learnt through social conditioning, to help us cope with crises and adversity. The real difference comes in how they are used by the individual, whether recklessly or responsibly, because jealousy can take different forms: from suspicion to rage, with resentment, humiliation, feelings of helplessness, insecurity and inadequacy in between. Only when jealousy reaches an extreme stage of possible rage and violence is it considered to be ‘abnormal’.

Jealousy tells us that we CARE about someone enough to want to keep them close to us; to feel that we belong in their lives, and vice versa. That makes us wary of anyone else who wishes to be involved, encroaching on our territory, so to speak, spurring our possessive and defensive instincts to greater levels. Again, that is perfectly normal. What could be termed as abnormal, or unhealthy, is allowing jealousy, like any other emotion, to get out of control; to blind us to the needs and rights of the other person involved.

Anything taken to the extreme, like anger, and even loving someone else too much, is detrimental to us. Kept within moderation, and used with sensitivity for others, emotions can serve us very well to show how we feel at any given time, and as release mechanisms. Once we lose control of our emotions, like jealousy, it becomes all about us and what WE want, with the needs of others brushed to one side. We stop thinking of the person we are jealous about as an independent entity and treat them as our possession and property, not entitled to their own life. That’s what makes jealousy corrosive and destructive: when it is used to get us what we desire, as a kind of entitlement, regardless of how the other person feels about it.

In essence, the lower the self-esteem and confidence of the jealous person, the greater the insecurity, anxiety and turmoil caused by fear of a possible loss of the prized ‘possession’! In this situation, jealousy often changes from a benign demonstration of love and value, to one of self-serving possession and increasing danger.


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