Jealousy gets a bad rap
And I will be straight up honest with you – most of the time it should. However, humans have evolved their character traits for specific reasons, be it for survival or success. And now psychologists have revealed a positive purpose for jealousy’s existence.
Jealousy is one of the most painful emotions we experience. One which we wish we could avoid at all costs. But for some reason, we can fall into its clutches more often than we would like. It is very hard to avoid if we don’t want to lock ourselves away from humanity for the rest of our lives.
Physical Effects of Jealousy
When we are seething with jealousy, it can actually have some detrimental effects on our bodies. This just goes to show that even if there are benefits, we shouldn’t rush to indulge in it.
You are likely to notice your heart pounding in your chest when you are jealous. This is your sympathetic nervous system jumping to action. Your blood pressure rises and your chest could actually feel shooting pain. The damage this can do to your body is the same kind of damage as stress.
Little-known Positive Side of Jealousy An ironic benefit of jealousy is the lack of appetite
Jealousy triggers the flight/flight response in your primitive brain (the amygdala). You are flooded with adrenaline and noradrenaline, and this suppresses your desire for food. But don’t rush out and make yourself jealous as some kind of diet tip.
Your brain on jealousy triggers neurons that ignite anger, disgust, and fear. This, in turn, gives you literal physical pain, thanks to a brain segment called the anterior cingulate cortex.
Positive side of Jealousy
Psychologists wished to research what positive gains we get from the activation of jealousy. In 2011, in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, results of a study were published. When members of the study group were provoked to jealousy, their memory abilities increased.
Jealousy provides a tunnel vision effect. It gives us the ability to zoom into fine details, without the bigger picture to distract us. In evolutionary terms, it reveals that jealousy provokes us to evolve. We see traits in another that we lack, and we wish to develop them also. You don’t even have to admire the person to desire the traits in them that you perceive would be beneficial to you.
If only we could turn our jealousy on or off. Wouldn’t it be great to apply it only in instances where we would feel a desire to emulate someone’s positive traits? Unfortunately, jealousy derives from the primitive part of the brain. Our subconscious drives it to action.
Negative Side to Jealousy
We all know it is painful. But also, living in a state of tunnel vision will prevent you from carrying out everyday tasks. Studies have shown that control groups provoked to jealousy will perform badly on logical and mathematical tasks.
Jealousy also impairs empathetic response. Even when test subjects consciously verbalized empathy, their brain scans showed differently. If someone they felt jealousy or envy towards experienced suffering, their primitive brain showed no empathetic response.
Types of Jealousy
Envy is often mistaken for jealousy. Envy is when we desire a trait that another has. Jealousy is when we feel threatened that we will lose what we already have.
The confusion generally arises because envy and jealousy are often felt together. You could say they are like twins. We may be jealous that our lover is talking to another person. But we will envy that person who might have a trait we feel we lack. A trait that might lure the one we love away to them.
Can We Control Jealousy and Envy?
Little-known Positive Side of JealousyAs mentioned above, these emotions come from the primitive amygdala. But we shouldn’t give up on ourselves. By working on the reasons why jealousy and envy are sparked, we can turn down their volumes.
Working on our self-esteem helps to give us fewer instances of jealousy and envy. When we are insecure, we are conscious of what we are lacking. We should focus on our uniqueness, the traits that make us quirky, and our individual talents.
Humans are complex and diverse creatures. There is no one else on earth like you. Chances are there is plenty about you that may evoke envy and jealousy in others!
Overthinking is also a fast track to jealous thinking. When a lover is late coming home, we might play a thousand different scenarios over in our head. We could end up assuming the worse – are they spending time with another lover?
The key to reducing our jealous and envious side is to learn to make peace with uncertainty. Jealousy and envy can dupe you into believing you have psychic intuition. Practicing mindfulness should enable you to find the inner peace to combat the green eyed monster.