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6 Coping Techniques for Handling Jealousy with Infertility
A blog by Amira Posner, Healing Infertility, January 27, 2015
"Let everything happen to you, beauty and terror, just keep going, no feeling is final." Rainer Maria Rilke
Jealousy is one of the most difficult emotions to deal with when struggling with infertility. It is extremely common to feel jealous when you desire something that you do not have, and then to see those around you with the very thing you want so badly. It can be extremely painful.
Jealousy is an innate emotion embedded in our human nature. If you were to trace jealousy back to its roots, you would be able to find its evolutionary purpose. However when dealing with infertility, you are likely not thinking about the evolution of jealousy. It is helpful though, to understand that jealousy is a universal human experience and that there are ways we can learn to work with the feeling so it does not affect us in such a consuming, negative way. Jealousy becomes problematic when we start to wallow in it allowing it to influence our day to day lives.
Six Coping Strategies to Explore and Understand Jealousy During Infertility:
- Recognize the jealousy feeling: When we can tune into the fact that we are feeling jealous and we can name the emotion, it loses power because we are no longer letting it shame us. Acknowledging and welcoming the feeling, opens the door to exploration. You may want to consider naming the feeling so you can familiarize yourself with it. The closer you get to the feeling, the less often it will sneak up and trigger you. Naming the emotion, is the first step in changing our relationship to it. Keeping a journal to track when the feelings arises is helpful in identifying what situations influence the jealousy feeling.
- Try not to judge jealousy when you notice it arise: We must try to let go of the extra layer of judgement we place on ourselves when we see jealousy arise. If we choose not to attend a baby shower because we are worried about how it will impact us, that is alright. I often hear women say that they feel guilty for not feeling happy about their friend's pregnancy news. These are our very own nuances and mind games, conscious or unconscious, that tend to exaggerate the jealousy feelings and negative emotions. Becoming aware of our own added layer of judgments and consciously letting them go, can powerfully transform the jealousy experience.
- Learning from jealousy:We can use feelings of jealousy as a way to learn and grow within ourselves and our relationships. The Dalai Lama said that sometimes not getting what we want is a wonderful stroke of luck. When we look at a pregnant woman with envy, this actually has nothing to do with them and everything to do with us. We need to reframe our experience and hone in on how not having what we want makes us feel.
- Manage your emotions proactively: Practicing mindfulness and loving kindness can calm your fear based negative thinking. Journaling, exercise and nature are just a few healthy outlets that can assist in the processing of emotions.
- Widen our perspective: Dealing with infertility tends to precipitate perserverative cognition. We become tunnel visioned with a very narrow focus of wanting to conceive. This can exaggerate the jealousy emotion. Taking a step back to realize that the painful experience we are going through is a part of life's learning and experience. Easier said than done. We must also not lose sight of the fact that everyone has their own struggle. Loving kindness meditations are a wonderful way to help you get back in touch with others whom we may be avoiding.
- Join a support group: There is nothing more powerful than being able to talk openly and comfortably about your feelings and emotions. Surrounding yourself with others who are on a similar journey is often the best medicine to normalizing and empowering your own experience.
Often times, when we are feeling jealous, we are so caught up in the emotion that we focus on how terrible the feeling is and how much we wish things were different. It is important to keep in mind that just as the feeling arises, it will pass. There is an impermanency to our feelings and emotions. They come and go. Understanding this along with utilizing these 6 coping techniques will help shift your experience of jealousy.