Jealousy: Emotion Regulation Handout 4 (DBT)

Today I experienced an emotion that many of us would be embarrassed and hesitant to admit: jealousy. At first I didn't even recognize that this was the emotion I was so intensely experiencing. I sensed fear. I sensed anger. I felt a mix of so many different things.

I decided to pull out my DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) binder and turned to the Emotion Regulation Handout 4.  Upon looking through the different emotions, it became very evident to me that what I was experiencing was certainly jealousy.

Here are the handout pages for Jealousy from Skill Manual for Disordered Emotion Regulation by Marsha Linehan:

The new girl at work decided that it would be nice to celebrate one of our co-worker's birthdays. In all the years I've worked at my job, we've never celebrated birthdays because not everyone was comfortable with it. Yet, somehow, I'll call her "Liz," managed to convince everyone to gather in her office area. She brought in homemade cupcakes and some of the other employees brought in a variety of foods and drinks. When she had told me about her plan yesterday, she only mentioned the cupcakes. I had no idea that the event would be more elaborate and hadn't brought anything.

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People seemed to be enjoying themselves and the food.  She was in the spotlight - laughing, talking with people of all levels of the organization with confidence and sass.  She was being the perfect hostess.  I felt uncomfortable, irritated, and awkward.  I wasn't as witty as her. I am not willing to make flirtatious and borderline racy jokes at work since we are the only two females on an all male staff. But she was. People flocked to her.  

I quietly left the room and returned to my desk on the verge of tears.  I was afraid and angry, but I didn't quite know why. The truth is: I was jealous.

According to the DBT worksheets, one of the "Prompting Events for Feeling Jealous" is:
"Someone is more attractive, outgoing, or self-confident than you."

I definitely perceived her as more outgoing and self-confident than me. Up until her arrival, I was the shining star.  I was the social butterfly in the workplace who made people smile, and I often engaged in conversations with different staff members.

My diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder complicated matters, because I realize that when I evaluated her to be outgoing and saw how people liked and responded to her - when I saw her working the room and being the social butterfly, my very identity felt threatened. It's almost as if my mind thought, for a moment, "OK, now Liz is the social butterfly, so who I am I? I am now nothing." 

My mind, for a moment, couldn't reconcile that just because she is outgoing, self-confident, and fun to be around, that I could also still possess those qualities and be an important person to my team.

Once I realize I was jealous, it helped. I decided to use one of the opposite action skills that I learned for dealing with anger: If you can, just be a little bit kind.

I took a deep breath and went into her office and told her that it was very nice of her to put together the party.  I told her that it was nice that she got everyone in one room talking and having a good time and that it was thoughtful that she made cupcakes. I wasn't being phony - because underneath all of the garbage and the triggers and the reasons why I responded the way I did - I really did think it was nice that she did all of those things. She didn't mean any harm and was just being a positive, upbeat person. I had more respect for myself after having done this.

By the end of my conversation with her, I was back to being my own positive, upbeat person, too.

I hope this was helpful.
Thank you for reading.
More Soon.


  1. I am really proud of you.As someone with BPD I know all too well how jealousy feels and how destructive it can be in our relationships with others and social situations but most of all us.Jealousy is such an intense emotion it can be consuming and it can really hurt our self esteem,this was no easy feat and you handled yourself gracefully well done :) I hope you know you did great and you treat yourself to something awesome for it.

    1. Thank you immensely for your comment. Your insights from your own personal experience and your kind comment that you are proud of me for how I handled things mean a LOT to me! xo ♥

  2. I can relate to how you felt. I think your co-worker was just trying to have fun, and have a good time getting to know everyone. And what a perfect way, making someone happy on their birthday! You may have felt diffrent if it was your birthday and all the attention was for you. Its better she is being "nice" than rude to anyone. You dont know her personally, she could have her own insecurities, she is only human too.
    Sometimes things aren't always how they look to us, and how we percieve them.
    You do a great job at work , you dont need to compete. By personality or appearance or job performance.
    Be yourself and be proud.

    you are awesome!

    1. I love how you were also able to look at the possibility that my assessment of my coworker during Emotion Mind wasn't necessarily accurate. There's no way to really know her true feelings, securities and insecurities, and motives. She really is a nice person. Thank you for very kind, encouraging, and thought-provoking comment. xo ♥

  3. Thanks for your honesty and hope. I know now that I can get better if I work on it. I just hate always having to be on meds. neurontin really helped me alot with my impulsiveness. I also take zoloft for depression. I have biplar II, PTSD, and BPD.



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