The Loving What Is Project – Ending Jealousy Permanently (Part 6)

Ending suffering requires replacing old beliefs and practices with new ones. Along the journey of ending jealousy, we’ve picked up a few new practices:

  • loving yourself by interrupting self-criticism in favor of self-acceptance and self-improvement
  • deepening intimacy by getting real and not limiting the number of people you create closeness with
  • enjoying aloneness by finding the source of connection with others whole and complete within you

One more advanced practice completes the picture.

Do you ever feel like a victim, either of circumstances, or of what you think other people have done to you? Do you think that some things that have happened to you are bad, that they should not have happened? While these are understandable responses to undesirable events, they are still ways of making meaning that produce suffering. The Loving What Is Project can help! If you practice accepting that what happens simply happens, that change is inevitable, you can reverse the process by which you convert pain into suffering.

This video is part 6 in a 6-part series on Ending Jealousy Permanently

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The Loving What Is Project – Ending Jealousy Permanently (Part 6)
Steve Bearman
March 1, 2012

Finally, we come to the end of our little series on ending jealousy permanently. I would like to recap a little bit, talk about where we’ve come or where you’ve come if you’ve been doing this practice of ending jealousy and then bring in a new advanced concept that will allow us to look back on this question about what to do about the word jealousy. So here’s where we’ve come. You recognize that experience is something that is organized in arbitrary ways. There’s more than one way to make sense of any experience and you know that you are an active participant in how you come to organize your experience. Sometimes the way you organize experience is that when things that are painful happened you add meaning to them and that meaning can sometimes trap the painful emotions behind a wall of meaning so that it’s kind of stuck and then you’ve got something called suffering that you were an active participant in creating. You know also that sometimes the meaning that you create actually produces the painful emotion that wouldn't be there if things seem to mean something different to you. And you know that using a label like jealousy around an experience of suffering, kind of freezes the whole thing in place because you stop paying attention to what’s really happening and just think that what’s happening is jealousy because you’ve got a label for it. So in order to overcome that labeling and freezing process you need to get madly curious and so you are interested and excited about what goes on when you suffer and are willing to look under the hood and find out what’s really going on in there and how things are working. And so you de-construct your suffering and you do this in a couple of ways. One is that you may just bypass structures of meaning altogether by paying attention to the sensations in your body and the emotions that are happening and work with those directly to allow them to get back in motion, back in flow, unstuck. When you do that there is one emotion in particular that stands out, it is not just pain and fear and anger and shame and sadness that goes with jealousy but love as well, and when love can be brought to the foreground of the experience it changes the way that you experience what's happening. You notice that what's happening is happening because you love somebody, because you care and that starts to color and flavor the entire experience. In addition to working to bypass structures of meaning, you may work directly with the structures of meaning that you have come to apply and sometimes you do that by recognizing that there are practices and beliefs that you have come to acquire that create suffering that can be replaced by better, more preferable practices and beliefs. Some of those practices that you’ve come to start to practice: you love yourself well and you do this by interrupting yourself when you start to talk to yourself negatively, when you start to tell yourself things that you wouldn't want to tell to somebody else that you cared about. Instead, you say to yourself the things that you would say to somebody who you had compassion for, who is having a hard time. You use your natural comparing yourself to others as an opportunity for self-improvement and self-acceptance because you know those things go together. You practice deepening intimacy and you do this by being real with people, showing your real self so that they are encouraged to show their real selves because that’s where intimacy comes from. And you know that there is no limit to the number of people you can be close to and even fall in love with. You enjoy being alone because you’ve come to really appreciate your own company and you know that your sense of connectedness with others is something that lives in you, it’s whole and complete in you whether or not anyone else is around and tapping into that is something that allows you to really enjoy being with yourself, your good company. Now you have started to inquire what your life might look like if you just kept practicing these practices and it has implications not just for the thing that we previously have been previously calling jealousy, but for all kinds of other things about your relationships and so I invite you to keep inquiring, what kind of impact could it have on your life and your relationships for you to keep these practices going and getting stronger. There is one more practice you might want to consider adding in and as I warned you, this one is advanced. We tend to think that we are victims of circumstances and worse, that we are victims of the things that other people have done to us. I have led the Ending Jealousy Permanently Workshop a number of times and people always share about particular strong vivid experiences they’ve had of jealousy with the group and they’ll talk about times when somebody ignored or excluded or betrayed or abandoned or otherwise hurt them, sometime when somebody cheated or lied or did something that they wish the other person would not have done and they get these “oohs” and “aahs” and this sympathy from the other people in the workshop. and that's good because we can all relate and it’s good to share our empathy and give people support. But that kind of support also keeps people stuck in place in the victim role, because if you consider yourself a victim you will never be fully empowered and it has a worse affect too, and that is where the Loving What Is project comes in. This title Loving What Is comes from the work of Byron Katie and her excellent book on the subject. And it’s about accepting that what happens simply happens and nothing that happens is bad. Calling something bad is just a kind of meaning that you add to the experience and while you would prefer that some things not happen, still what happens simply happens. So for instance, if somebody chooses somebody else instead of choosing you that’s just something that happens. If you lose a relationship or a person that you deeply value, that’s just life happening. If you have an agreement with somebody and they break it or they tell you something and it turned out to be a lie or you create a trust with somebody and then the trust falls apart, those are other things that naturally happen in the course of life and if you don't think of them as bad, just simply as what is then you can come to appreciate that what is, is all there ever is. What’s happening is the only thing that’s ever happening and you can be with it in a way that you don't resist it. Thinking that you are a victim is a way of resisting what's happening, a way of trying to stop it from being what it is, but it is that anyway and you are out of touch and out of sync with what’s happening when you resist it. If you can simply allow what is to be, some of those things are painful, there is sadness when you lose somebody, there is shame when someone chooses somebody else and there may be anger or fear when someone breaks trust, maybe you are afraid that you won't be able to ever trust that person or anyone else again. Those feelings will be there, but if you can really be with what is instead of resisting it, those feelings will remain in motion and that is part of how you overcome suffering and this goes beyond just jealousy. If you can be with the feelings, they don't whirlpool around inside you, they just pass through you like a wave. It's their nature because everything in life changes, nothing stays the same and nothing lasts forever and letting those changes be what they are allows you to be more in touch with reality and it may mean that you feel more. It doesn't necessarily take the pain away but it keeps it from getting stuck in place and stuck behind a kind of meaning structure in which what happened is bad should not have happened, should not be and therefore you are a victim. So as I said this is advanced and it applies to all forms of suffering. If you can love what is, then you can stay more in the flow because not only is life a process but you are a process that’s always in motion and this brings us back to this question about the word jealousy. How do you stop using the word jealousy? I mean everybody around you uses it. It’s a structure of meaning, it’s a way of organizing experience that there is tremendous agreement for in this society because everybody thinks of what’s happening as jealousy but you don't have to, but you won’t be able to just replace it with another word, it doesn’t work like that, any other word will just become a substitute for jealousy, it will be the same thing. When you take the label off there is the opportunity to really pay attention to what is happening as it’s happening. It is a process in motion just as you are, and if someone asks you about what happened, you have to talk about what really happened, sensations and emotions and thoughts and beliefs as they occur, including your behaviors in response to those, not just give it a quick label or a quick frame that will keep you from really attuning to what’s occurring. The more you can do that, the more you are in the process of life not freezing it in place but allowing it to move through and move on to whatever it is that’s next. I invite you to keep practicing these practices. You become that what you practice, that what you practice becomes what you are. And so these practices that we are talking about will alter not just your experience of jealousy but the options available to you in life, how you come to understand yourself, and what’s available in your relationship with others. So thanks for taking this Ending Jealousy journey with me and keep on practicing.

About the Author

Steve Bearman, Ph.D., earned his doctorate in Psychology from the University of California, Santa Cruz. He founded Interchange Counseling Institute in 2002 and is the lead teacher of Interchange's San Francisco-based year-long counseling and coaching training. When he's not counseling people, leading workshops, and advocating for social justice, Steve climbs mountains, adventures in the urban wilderness, explores the edges and limits of what's possible, deconstructs everything, and finds new ways to put it all back together.