Around the world people are speculating… did Oscar Pistorius intentionally kill Reeva Steenkamp or is it a case of mistaken identity? And if he did intend to murder her, what was the cause, what triggered his rage… could it have been something as simple and petty as jealousy?
If one is to believe the Olympian’s reputation in sporting circles as a “jealous, possessive man who could turn violent”, it is entirely possible jealousy is at the heart of this case.
One of the dictionary definitions of jealousy, particularly as it relates to relationships, is feeling or showing a resentful suspicion that one’s partner is attracted to or involved with someone else.It’s more than just a resentful suspicion though isn’t it? In a lot of cases, jealousy is a deep, hurtful burning sensation that leaves you sick to your stomach and filled with fear and helplessness. You feel powerless, especially when your relationship is at stake, and the fear of losing that relationship can shake your entire foundation and world.
And that’s really what it’s all about, isn’t it? You’re scared that the person you care for is going to leave you for someone else.
This kind of fear raises all sorts of difficult-to-deal-with-emotions such as, anger, resentment, fear of being alone or lonely, abandonment, rejection, feeling less than the other person, helpless, powerless and feeling cheated out of something that is rightfully yours.
Understandably this is going to rock your world.
As humans we’re just not built to deal with rejection on this level, especially when it takes place in one of the foundation or cornerstones of our lives – our primary relationship.
Understandably then, a lot of people overreact… and if this particular incident has reached their deep-seated fears and insecurities they may completely overreact, respond with anger, violence, or in a case like Oscar’s, perhaps murderous intent.
So what should you do when the green-eyed monster rears its ugly head to make sure that you don’t overreact?
As silly and as simple as it sounds, breathing deeply is your first port of call. There’s a catch though – you need to actively focus on breathing through your nose.
In any stressful situation where you’ve experienced a trauma or a shock, even if it’s emotional instead of physical, your body goes through the same reactions as it would in a physiological trauma.
How do we know this? Well, think back to a time when you watched a really, really scary movie. Do you remember that one scene where your heart started racing, and your mouth went dry, and your hands were sweaty… even though you knew it was only a movie, and not real? Well it’s the same response.
The human brain doesn’t distinguish between mental, emotional and physical experiences – it also can’t distinguish between what goes on in your mind and what you actually experience.
So when you do experience an emotional shock, it causes the same instinctual stress responses in your body – basically all the chemicals and associated reactions that go along with the famed fight or flight response.
When you breathe through your mouth, you are allowing these instinctual responses to take over… and unfortunately, one of the instinctual responses is breathing through your mouth, because it allows you to get more oxygen with which to flee!
By actively focusing on breathing through your nose, it activates the forebrain, or higher thinking centre of your brain. This allows you to think more clearly, clearly and calmly – and make more rational decisions.
Speaking of rational…
Once you’ve had a moment or three to calm down and are thinking a bit more rationally, there are any number of ways that you can handle the next step.
Phone a friend
Yes that’s what friends are for.
Even if it’s three in the morning, (why do these things always seem to happen at 3am!)… call your friend. It’s a much easier solution than going to jail.
Talk the issue through with them, ask for their advice, get them to do what they can to calm you down.
And if you still have doubts about calling at 3am… well wouldn’t you want your best friend to call you instead of landing up in jail?
Write a letter
Or a text message or WhatsApp… the point is to communicate with your partner.
Laziness and our need to lash out or get instant gratification is going to say text message or WhatsApp is the way to go, but honestly, you’re going to do more damage in the long run.
A letter, which you have to write, reread and edit, gives you time to think about your wording and tone, and often the very act of writing the letter, and putting your emotions down on paper goes a long way toward clearing the anger and pain effectively.
If you do need to go the route of WhatsApp or a text message, then think very carefully about how your phrase your question, and the intention behind it so that you don’t cause an unnecessary fight or damage your relationship and the bond between you and your partner.
Examples of bad messages to send include:
- You’re cheating on me!
- You’re a liar!
- You lied to me!
- I know what you did
- I will never forgive you
- How could do this to me?
Each of these messages may accurately represent what you feel inside, but they don’t convey the problem or your actual fear. They certainly don’t allow your partner the time and information needed to respond to your concerns and address them.
Examples of good messages to send include:
- I saw/heard something that worried me. Do you have time to talk about it?
- I saw/heard something that made me feel insecure about our relationship. Could we make time to talk about it, please?
- I am worried about something that I saw/heard, and it makes me feel scared about our future. Please could we make time to talk about it?
- I am feeling jealous and insecure ,and I’m worried about our relationship. Could we make time to sit down together, please?
If your partner is willing to go in and talk with you, you are not required to tell them what it’s about before you go in, but giving them a heads up takes a lot of strain off the conversation – and the relationship.
The instinct is usually not to tell them so you can see their shocked reaction and see if they are lying, but honestly, sometimes what you see is actually just shock, and you can misread that as a sign of guilt.
A solid future
If you really care about your partner and they really care about you then an open, honest conversation will go a long way toward building a more secure foundation for your relationship – and help you alleviate your internal self doubts and fears.
These conversations are never easy to tackle and even when you’ve had a lot of practice with them, and you are sure your partner is going to speak to you openly and honestly, it’s still your own fears that make it difficult for you to do.
With the right partner though, you will find your feelings validated, and a difficult conversation such as this goes a long way toward making your relationship feel more secure, grounded and stable… and at the end of the day that’s what you really want, isn’t it?