Almost all of us categorize our emotions as good or bad. Some emotions feel good, and some feel bad. Obviously we want to feel good and try to avoid feeling bad but truth be told our emotions, both good and bad are important to us.
Both good and bad feelings provide us with information about our mental state. They can reveal our underlying beliefs, our deepest desires, and our greatest fears. As a result, it can be important to not only experience our emotions but to reflect on them and see if we can come to an understanding of why we are having the emotion and what it is revealing to us.
Susan was jealous and angry every time she saw or even thought of Bethany. Bethany just seemed to have it all, a slim figure, a nice boyfriend, and a good job making good money. Susan often found herself mentally criticizing Bethany in any small way she could think of. "That sure is an ugly sweater!" "Her hair is a mess today." "She just loves to talk about the stupidest things!" Susan's emotions of jealousy and anger became an emotional habit. Her mental exercise of criticizing Bethany allowed the emotions to continue and intensify. It was fueling her stress and her stress eating. She needed to break the cycle.
Often underlying the emotion of jealousy is the belief of "not enough". Bethany has what Susan wants and there is not enough for Susan. But upon reflection, it is clear the "not enough" belief is untrue. Bethany has what Susan wants but nothing is stopping Susan from getting what she wants other than her own bad mental habits.
Susan realized she wanted to get to a healthy weight. She wanted to feel the confidence that she saw in Bethany. She wanted to be in a better mood. With the guidance of her therapist, Susan realized that comparing herself to Bethany, or anyone for that matter, was counterproductive. If she was going to compare herself to someone, it needed to be herself. She remembered how she felt when she was 30 pounds lighter. She was married and working in a good company with a great boss who appreciated her work. When her marriage suddenly and unexpectedly ended, she was angry, not just at her husband but anybody "in love". Her company changed and her new boss was critical of everyone, except Bethany. As her anger and jealousy became her new mental habit, her life and health deteriorated. Susan decided she was going to start by changing just the thoughts that came into her mind. She couldn't get behind the idea of affirmations because it seemed they were just lies she was telling herself. "I am the perfect weight." (No, I'm not!) "I have a great job that provides all the money I desire." (Seriously?) "I am deeply loved." (Maybe by my mother.) So instead of affirmations she just worked to make the negative thought that came to her mind just a little bit better. "I'm never going to lose this weight" became "I'm a work in progress. I can't fail if I don't quit." "I'm so sick of this job" became "I'm grateful to have a job and I will continue to do my best even if my boss doesn't acknowledge me because doing a good job makes me feel good." As Susan changed her mind thought by thought, she realized she was feeling better. Over time her positive thoughts and disciplined efforts turned into some tangible success.