Imagine you’re at a group dinner with your significant other and all is going well. You’re feeling relaxed and enjoying the company of those around you. Both you and your partner are having a great time. But, all of a sudden a new person joins your intimate dinner. She’s absolutely stunning, dressed to impress, and just seems to have a certain charisma that makes her magnetic. All of sudden, you aren’t feeling so good about yourself. Perhaps you have become self-conscious of your outfit or makeup. Regardless, feelings of inferiority intrude on your once enjoyable dinner. It’s not this other person’s fault, and it’s not your fault you feel this way. However, your overwhelming feelings of jealousy makes it difficult to overcome throughout the meal.

Most of us have experienced this horrid feeling of envy or jealousy at various points in our lives. Maybe it’s due to someone else’s professional experience, abilities, talents, wealth, or looks. No matter what it is, one thing is for sure: it’s no fun dealing with the green eyes of envy.

We’ve interviewed two experts in the field of Psychology to delve into the issues surrounding jealousy. However, before discussing what causes jealousy, it’s worth having a look at why it brings up so much discomfort in us. “Jealousy is often looked down upon as a sign of weakness, causing many of us to make excuses, rationalize, justify, or deny that it even exists,” explains Dr. Ken Druck, a Life Coach who has a Ph. D in Psychology, and the author of Courageous Aging: Your Best Years Ever.

Admitting that it is jealousy that we, indeed, feel causes us to also look at our lives and realize that we may not be exactly where we want to be in life. “Most people like to at least put on the ‘face’ of being totally confident in everything they do and are, although this is not true for most,” says Antoinette Mallett who is an E.d.D. Candidate, Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor and National Certified Counselor. We face the realization that there is perhaps a “gap” in our own life that isn’t totally “up-to-par.” This unsettling thought is compounded when we may hold ourselves up to the next to impossible expectations of society, notes Mallett.

So what exactly is jealousy? It seems to come down to one thing: fear. “Fear of loss is at the root of jealousy, and it may be the loss of status, opportunity, love, or security,” explains Druck. And this makes perfect sense. Let’s return to the example above of enjoying a dinner with your partner and friends until someone who you perceive as “more beautiful” or “more engaging” enters the picture.  You feel that you will lose your partner if he or she experiences someone so wonderful in comparison to you.

As noted earlier, we may sense that when we are going through a jealous bout that we are somehow not normal or we feel ashamed doesn’t help. In reality, jealousy is a normal emotion that all of us have faced from time to time, explains Druck. However, if it goes unchecked, it can become pathological and lead to obsession and the destruction of relationships that we hold dear.

The science behind jealousy seems to be linked to our very instinct to survive. “Typically, jealousy creates the fight or flight response that happens as a physiological response and hyperarousal, like stress, in response to our perception that something is harmful, ready to attack or a threaten our survival,” explains Mallet. So in short, if someone feels that another person’s beauty, job success, or achievements threaten their own, then a need to defend or flea the situation seems to take place.

While jealousy is absolutely normal, it is imperative to take measures to work through it in a positive and helpful manner. Some possible methods for coping with jealousy include:

1. Self love and appreciation

Self love, awareness, and compassion, and most of all, acceptance are keys to transforming and neutralizing negative emotions like jealousy. “It is within our power to awaken to and harness the power of our unproductive emotions, overcome our shame and embarrassment, practice kindness, and transform the ‘dark side’ of ourselves into something light and positive,” says Druck.

2. Own it

In a moment of jealousy, remind yourself that you are only human and have some compassion for yourself. “Now that you have a better understanding of what jealousy is, acknowledge these feelings, exhale and release the shame associated with them,” suggests Druck.

3. Ask for help

Remember, we all have had experienced jealousy at some point in life, so it can be helpful to talk it out with a friend, and ask the friend to share a time that he or she was jealous and how it was overcome, explains Druck. This helps you to feel not so alone in the struggle.

4. Realize others may be jealous

Whether a partner, friend, relative, or co-worker, there are most likely people in your life who feel jealous of you. “Summon all the empathy and compassion you have in your heart, and do your best to understand and forgive him/her, regardless of the emotions being directed toward you,” says Druck.

5. Get professional help

Because jealousy can be so deeply entrenched in someone’s life and past, it may not be so easy to overcome by yourself. If this is the case, always seek the help of a professional.

At the end of the day, “jealousy is a normal emotion that we all experience at some time because we live in a social world and are exposed to many things, and many types of people,” expresses Mallet. So, acknowledge this and be kind to yourself, while seeking solutions at the same time.