Surrendering to Jealousy

If it’s true that a lesson will keep returning in various forms till we’ve learned it, there must be something big jealousy has yet to teach me, because I’ve had serious spells of it at least once a year for the last five. By serious spells I mean crying daily, sucking on crisis cigarettes, and planning various escape routes in the wee hours of morning while “About Today” plays on repeat in the background.

Jealousy is so uncomfortable to me that I’ll take self-sabotaging measures to eliminate the apparent cause. I push good people away, exit ideal relationships, and tell myself I’m just hardwired to be alone. Inevitably, during each spell of jealousy, I end up over-analyzing the situation: What is the purpose of this feeling? What does it mean? Where does it come from? Is it rooted in a fear of abandonment? Or a suspicion that I’m not good enough?

Sometimes thinking won’t get us any further along a particular path. Sometimes what’s waiting to be discovered requires we bypass thoughts entirely. This, perhaps, is one of those times.

So, I’m taking a different approach. I’m choosing to focus on sensation. I’m choosing to cultivate an intense curiosity about what’s actually happening in my body, about my immediate experience, and worrying less about the label of “jealousy” and what I think it means.

It’s a shift from trying to figure jealousy out so I can fix it, to simply witnessing jealousy so I can accept it.

What I’ve noticed, so far, is a subtle sense of collapse, in my belly and chest, then a slight drop of my heart and head. It almost feels as if I’m being pulled to the ground, being drawn to surrender.

And it’s when I do surrender—to my immediate experience—that the space between the sensations and my interpretation of them as jealousy or as anything else, becomes clear. I’d like to hang out more and more in the space itself. That is, I’d like to feel but also suspend judgment about how I feel; to accept the hurt but also be bothered less by that hurt.

Alex

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About Ryan Shelton

While I'm currently married to a beautiful woman while teaching physics at Padua Academy, these descriptors fail to capture the totality of my adventurous life. I have hiked over 1700 miles, traveled to 5 continents, managed a bakery, started a meditation center, counseled troubled teens, attended Duke, UNC, and Harvard, protected forests as a wildland firefighter, volunteered thousands of hours with Americorps, rafted the Grand Canyon, SCUBA dived on the Great Barrier Reef, and continues to find new adventures. I hope my writing encourages you to pursue your dreams and be the best version of yourself while supporting your communities to work together to solve the current challenges in our world.

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