Friday, April 19, 2013

Jealousy - a nasty example of The Almond Effect®

You can control your amygdala with practice

I was once a jealous person. My father was an extremely jealous man, and used to wrongly accuse my mother of infidelity. He made vicious attacks on my mother, both physical and verbal. 

Though I swore I would never be like my father, I found that I did get jealous easily, and without justification.

One frightening day, many years ago, an outburst of jealousy nearly cost me the most precious relationship in my life. That was the turning point, the crisis that made me realise that I had to manage my fear of rejection, which was what my jealousy was really all about. 

My amygdala was reacting to a perceived, and absolutely baseless, threat that I might be left for another woman.

However, I realised that if I could learn to stall my brain's instant emotional reaction (The Almond Effect), that would give the thinking part of my brain, the pre-frontal cortex, time to click in. 

I would remember then that there was nothing to be jealous about, that my reaction was totally inappropriate, and hopefully I would be able to keep my act together.

Easier said than done

Easier said than done of course, but I was determined. 

I started to really notice the situations when jealousy tugged at my heart. When this happened, I concentrated on saying to myself: ‘You have nothing to be afraid of.'

It was a long road. It took more than six months of hard work to learn not to react. I still feel a twinge of jealousy occasionally, but it no longer controls me. I'm in control of that feeling now and it no longer threatens my relationship.

I'm telling you this because it may take time for you to be able to learn to control your Almond Effect®, however it shows up in your life. Don't be hard on yourself if you find it hard to change your ‘usual' reaction.

Just keep on practising, and ask yourself what else you could do to manage The Almond Effect®? Give yourself a pat on the back for even trying, and a huge reward when you succeed.

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