How Jealousy Affects Your Self-Esteem

Photo: getty
woman feeling jealousy in her relationship
Self

Jealousy is a complex feeling that everyone experiences at some point in their life.

Do you find yourself often jealous? Always thinking someone else is better than you? It’s an awful way to live.

Jealousy not only affects your self-esteem, but being overly-jealous means you already have a lot of self-doubts. You don’t feel lovable.

When jealousy takes over, you can’t control it.

RELATED: 10 Sneaky Effects Of Jealousy On You And Your Relationship

You’re not the only one who feels jealousy.

If you’re constantly in the grips of jealousy, that’s something different — it means you never feel safe.

You don’t trust anyone to like you, stick around, or see good things in you. You feel left out, unwanted, and never a part of the inner circle. You might feel as though you'll be left at any moment.

So, you fight with your boyfriend when you think he's looking at someone else. Or, you call and text constantly when he’s out, sure that he’s cheating.

You just can’t stop yourself. You believe you could be replaced in an instant.

You never feel good enough for anyone, especially when you look at yourself.

Here are 3 ways jealousy affects your self-esteem.

1. You never feel good enough.

You’ve believed you aren’t good enough for as long as you can remember.

Most often, if you’re stuck in jealousy, this belief comes from various childhood experiences — neglect, abuse (physical, sexual, or emotional), an undiagnosed learning disability, being bullied, your parent’s favoritism of another sibling, or illness.

All of these situations can lead to never feeling good enough.

In neglect or abuse of any kind, you’ve been criticized and shamed. You’ve been made to feel it was your fault.

Maybe you were even compared to others — told you should "act or be like them." You couldn’t help it. You felt something was definitely wrong with you.

Having an undiagnosed learning disability is also traumatic. You struggled. Teachers and parents didn’t understand. You felt "stupid," even though you aren’t. You saw others picking things up quickly.

You were jealous, and those feelings last.

Being bullied and having an illness that separates you from other kids — those experiences make you feel different, too. You wish you could be like them, and you’re jealous.

Or, if you are one of several siblings, that’s hard enough as it is, especially in a family where it never felt like there was enough love to go around or there was abuse.

Maybe you were singled out or struggled more in school. You weren’t as thin, not as athletic, or you happen to be the creative, sensitive one in a family of academics or lawyers.

All these things can make you insecure and feel less lovable.

Jealousy is part of any sibling situation. But if a sibling is actually overtly favored, you feel you can never measure up, setting the stage for comparing yourself with others and being in jealousy’s clutches.

2. You compare yourself to others, often.

You’re constantly comparing yourself. Trying to see if you’re as smart, pretty, or lovable. In your head, it’s like, "Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?"

It goes on and on all the time, especially with someone you love. You need constant reassurance that someone else isn’t better. You can never get enough of it.

No matter how hard he tries to tell you how great you are, you just don’t believe him. It puts a strain on this relationship — or any you’re in.

Mostly, it’s very hard on you — and your self-esteem — to feel this kind of constant jealousy. But it’s not just about love. You can’t believe anything good that anyone says.

Good things about you aren’t to be trusted. The real problem is: You think you’re right.

Everywhere you look, you see what your friends have accomplished — their degree, job, the money they make, the house they live in, the kids they have, and even their clothes.

And if you don’t have a boyfriend right now or finding love is a challenge for you, you look at the relationship and love others have. Love you can never seem to find.

It’s terribly painful. In fact, it defeats you. It’s very hard to keep going, to feel hope for success in a job, with money, or love if your jealousy tears down your self-esteem.

RELATED: 3 Ways To Cure Jealousy From Within

3. There's a critical voice in your head.

This critical voice is at the heart of the problem and makes your self-esteem worse.

It developed a long time ago — from being abused, criticized, bullied at school, suffering a learning disability you had no help with, and being compared to siblings or friends.

In your childhood, you lived never feeling good enough and with constant jealousy, the kind that sets up a vicious cycle with your self-esteem.

Does your jealousy affect your self-esteem? Or does your poor self-esteem set off jealousy?

It’s both. Wherever it started, you're stuck in it now, with that voice in your head constantly berating you for not being "better," farther ahead, or as good as you want.

Worse, you see that critical voice reflected in what you think other people are thinking. You’re sure they think just like you, judging you, comparing you, and leaving you out.

And since you’re sure they also think other people are better than you, you only feel more jealous and less good enough for them. So, you withdraw or get mad.

It’s very hard to live this way. But luckily, you can get out of it.

Therapy is the best way to go if your jealousy won’t leave you alone.

Therapy is especially helpful if jealousy is ruining your life or your relationships, tearing apart your self-esteem.

Therapy can help you understand the root of your jealousy. Everyone’s history and situation are different, and you have your own triggers.

A therapist can help you can get out of the vicious cycle of comparing and criticizing yourself, becoming so immobilized you can’t get anything you want.

You'll be able to identify the forms jealousy takes when it consumes your mind, as it has its own particular traps. Therapy will look at those and help you get free.

You can stand up to the critical voice in your head that constantly undermines you, demeans you, and sabotages your self-esteem.

These are the first steps to feeling much better about yourself.

Trust that you can. When you do, you’ll open up the space you need in your mind to create the life you really want.

It’s never too late to start. Don’t let that voice tell you any different.

You just need help believing in yourself. It isn’t easy to get out of the grips of jealousy on your own. And if you’ve suffered more than a little, it’s time to give therapy a try.

Reach out. You don’t have to bear the pain of jealousy alone. You can get free.

RELATED: Here's How To Stop Being Jealous, Before You Self-Sabotage Your Relationship

Subscribe to YourTango's newsletter to keep up with us for FREE

- Our best articles delivered straight to your inbox
- The latest in entertainment and news
- Daily horoscopes and love advice

Dr. Sandra Cohen is a Los Angeles-based psychologist and psychoanalyst, who specializes in treating persistent depressive states and childhood trauma. Contact her if you have any questions.