5 Ways to Let Go of Jealousy When Living with Psoriatic Disease
Do you ever feel like your psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis is holding you hostage? Is life just flying by while you’re stuck dealing with the endless burden of chronic disease? If so, you’re not alone. It’s all too easy, in this image-driven culture, to get caught up in the game of social comparison. We start to resent the people who post photos of the new house we can’t afford, the marathon we couldn’t run, or the bathing suit we don’t feel we could ever wear. We get jealous of other couples, whose relationships don’t bear the added strain that ours do, or the working moms who seem to be doing it all, while we are barely holding it together.
But negative feelings like these are a trap—they can keep us hostage. To live a more fulfilled life, we must learn to accept ourselves for who we are. Here are some simple strategies for doing that.
Talk or Write About Your Feelings
Jealousy is a normal human emotion that everyone experiences from time to time. But when these feelings become chronic, all-consuming, or anxiety-provoking, that means they’ve evolved into something more serious. One of the most effective ways of ridding yourself of negative thoughts and emotions is to acknowledge and accept them.
Talking to a friend or a mental health professional or journaling about your feelings can help you identify what’s triggering these emotions and help reduce anger and resentment toward others, says Carla Marie Manly, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and author of Joy from Fear.
Quit the Negative Self-Talk
Think about this for a second—would you talk to a friend the way you talk to yourself? Probably not. That’s because we are usually our own worst critics. Fortunately, we can train our brains to go easier on ourselves. With practice, we can learn to recognize negative self-talk before it begins, then make an active choice to think more positively. So, next time the voice in your head tells you to stop trying because you’ll never be able to do that thing you’ve been dreaming of doing, show some compassion to the person that you are in the here and now.
“Accept yourself,” Steven Sultanoff, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist in Irving, California, says he tells his patients. “Embrace the right to be who you are.”
Adopt Healthier Coping Strategies
When we experience negative thoughts and emotions, such as being jealous of people with “normal” lives, we want those feelings to go away as quickly as possible. To drown out the noise, many people turn to things like food, alcohol, and drugs. It’s no wonder that people with psoriasis have a greater risk of both obesity and addiction than members of the general population. But, when it comes down to it, these unhealthy coping strategies don’t solve anything—in fact, they can make matters worse. The good news is, though, that these bad habits can be broken.
“Identify [healthier] things that improve your mood, and quiet or distract your mind,” suggests Christy Pennison, LPC-S, a board-certified counselor. “This could be reading a book, going for a walk, taking a long bath, or listening to music. Incorporate these coping and calming strategies in your daily life.”
Identify Your Triggers
Just like your symptoms have triggers, your feelings of negativity do, too. What is it that causes your feelings of jealousy and resentment? Maybe a few minutes of scrolling through social media leaves you feeling angry and alone. Or colleagues giving you a hard time at work makes you feel that way. Perhaps planning ahead gets overwhelming and feels like too much to deal with.
“Everyone has insecurities and challenges of their own that make them feel different,” explains therapist Tasia Milicevic, LCSW. “Self-awareness will help you improve your ability to cope with your feelings in healthy ways.”
Once you know what sends your emotions spiraling out of control, you can work to avoid those situations. Or, even better, work with a mental health professional to develop targeted coping strategies.
Sometimes, making these changes can feel overwhelming. In today’s world, the idea of cutting out social media can seem impossible, for example. Just take it one step at a time—consider limiting your screen time to three-minute sessions or try logging off on weekends.
Focus on What Your Body Can Do
If you have psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis, then you’ve probably spent a lot of time thinking about the ways your body has failed you. But these negative thoughts are a lot more harmful than people realize. The way you think about your body matters, because it is intrinsically connected to your sense of self-worth. Research shows that we can improve our body image by focusing on the things our bodies can do, instead of how they look. This means recognizing how resilient your body can be.
Look at what your body has withstood in the past—focus on your skin’s ability to improve between flare-ups. Think about the joy that your body gives you when it allows you to dance, swim, or hug your loved ones. Be thankful that your heart is pumping, and that your neurons are firing. Then commit yourself to making your body even stronger and more powerful than it already is.
“Taking care of your physical health is a great way to improve body satisfaction, self-image, and mood,” says Milicevic. All the more reason to eat right, exercise and give yourself plenty of TLC.