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Ask the Mental Health Expert Archives 2001-2004

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Q. How do you overcome being jealous of your sister/friend? I get jealous from the time she comes home until 1:00-3:00 a.m. while she is on the internet chatting with someone she met. I try not to let it bother me but this feeling of loneliness and being angry is so strong. Can you help?

A. It's pretty common for rivalry, jealousy, and hard feelings to arise between siblings or close friends--so, you are not alone! Rather than focusing on your sister's or friend's behavior, you would probably feel better by developing your own talents, personal qualities, and emotional growth. Young people often experience feelings of jealousy when they have low self-esteem or a lot of insecurity (which are very common feelings in the pre-teen and teen years, and sometimes well beyond!).

How can you work on these issues? Would it help, for example, to get involved in some type of volunteer work? Maybe take an art course, or join an activities or support group that helps get your mind off your sister or friend? And what are those feelings of loneliness and anger really caused by? It's easy to blame your sister or a close friend--but only you are responsible for your feelings, and only you can change them.

If you are feeling extremely down, depressed, or angry, and can't snap out of it, I would recommend getting some professional counseling. Parents may also be a good source of advice and support--though not all parents are very sympathetic to these problems in their kids. If you are in school, your school psychologist may be a more objective source of guidance for you.

I don't know your age, but if you are in your teens, you may be interested in several books by Kimberly Kirberger. For example, in Teen Love, A Journal on Friendship, Kirberger deals with the issues of trust, "being yourself," making friends, hurt, jealousy, cliques, and popularity. There are also some good books I can recommend for people of all ages, such as Dr. David Burns' classic, Feeling Good; and A Guide to Rational Living, by Drs. Albert Ellis and Robert Harper. With patience and hard work, you can overcome jealousy, anger and loneliness!

April 2003

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