In today’s video, I’m going to share a bizarre but effective technique for getting through things like obsessive and retroactive jealousy.

So: what’s a better method for dealing with jealous thoughts?

Zachary Stockill: When was the last time you accomplished something small? And when you accomplished it, did you celebrate that mini-victory?

I talk a lot in this channel about an idea that I would like to call “mini-victories.” Our lives are full of these little “mini wins,” these little mini victories throughout the day, and only very recently have I learned how incredibly important it can be to give ourselves a little treat when we accomplish these mini victories, these little goals relating to retroactive jealousy.

One example of a mini victory could be: when you are dealing with jealous thoughts about your partner’s past, you don’t let it get to you.

You practice a reframing technique and exercise, among the many tactics, exercises, and practices that I talk about in my books, my online courses, and some on this channel. You do something useful that actually helps you get through the intrusive thought, and move on with your day. That is a win, that is a victory, and I think it’s important in these moments, to give yourself a little treat, give yourself a little reward for these mini victories.

One of my big discoveries, particularly in 2020, is the incredible benefit of having and keeping checklists. So I made a little note on my phone where I can record little victories. At this particular moment in my life, I’m not dealing with retroactive jealousy anymore, so I can’t use that example for myself. But for me, this mainly involves work activities.

Such as, I’ve got a meeting at 9 am, I need to respond to a coaching client’s email, or I have a coaching call at 11 am, or I need to record two YouTube videos, whatever the case may be, having specific checklists filled with activities, things that I need to get done every day and then specifically, having a section where I can record whether or not I got that task completed.

dealing with jealous thoughts

I’ve noticed that simply by checking a box and checking that off my list, there’s this little neurochemical “reward” that I feel. And by doing this, I’m training myself to do more of the things that I need to do.

I’m training myself to do more of the tasks that are going to get me closer to my goals.

Every single time I check off an item on my list, it feels good. There’s a sense of accomplishment and finality to that task. And it’s like when you look back at the end of the day, when you’ve got maybe 20 items on your list checked off, “This is everything I did today. These are all mini victories during my day.” That’s a good feeling that really helps you enjoy your evening more when you sit down and have a glass of wine at 5 pm.

That glass of wine tastes sweeter, that evening with my girlfriend is a lot more fun. I sleep better when I can look back on my day and say, “look at all the many victories I had today.” And again, these are mini victories, these don’t have to be “big things.”

So how can you apply this in dealing with jealous thoughts?

For example, if you had a moment where you feel that familiar curiosity about your partner’s past, and you wanted to ask them the question, that’s a bad idea. You don’t need to be hounding your partner for more and more unnecessary details about their past.

Let’s say in this moment you let the feeling pass, you perform a redirecting activity, a thought reframe, or you do something that occupies your time, takes your mind off of hounding your partner with more unnecessary questions about their past. The moment passes, the curiosity fades, and that’s a mini victory.

So if I were you, I would have some kind of a checklist in my phone where you can “check off” that that moment passed. That’s a little victory, that’s a little “retroactive jealousy victory” today.

Another example, you’re stuck in traffic on your way to work, you get an intrusive thought about your partner with his or her ex-boyfriend and you feel the familiar sort of response to that thought coming up. You feel your breath start to get very shallow, you feel your face tense up, start to feel that sinking feeling in your gut, and it’s like, “Oh, no, here we go again.” But instead, you throw on one of my guided meditations, or you throw on this video, or you perform a redirecting activity, you perform some other technique from my course, and you do something that helps the thought pass. All of a sudden, you’re feeling good.

Again, you’re driving to work, you’re focusing on your day, everything’s good: that’s a mini victory. That is worthy of recognition. Check that off on your phone! You should feel good about that. The reason why it’s so important to record these mini victories and do something active that actually commemorates your accomplishment is… you’re training yourself almost like a dog. That sounds weird but bear with me. You’re giving yourself a little reward. Even if it’s as simple as a checkmark on the page, you’re giving yourself a little “reward” for doing what you know you needed to do, and that is valuable.

dealing with jealous thoughts

This is an effective way of dealing with jealous thoughts.

There’s a reason why the dog only gets a treat when he successfully shakes paws… because you’re reinforcing that behavior in the dog. It’s a very primal thing. And as I often say, human beings, we love to pretend that we’re not animals, that were “above” our mammalian urges, that we’re out of the animal kingdom, but we’re not. We’re highly advanced apes, but we’re still apes, and looking at yourself as an ape, like a dog that can be trained, can be useful. It can help you take yourself less seriously, and it can help you engage in certain activities, tactics, or habits that can make a big difference in your life.

It can be clarifying sometimes to see yourself as a mammal, so try this out for yourself. Give yourself mini victories and get creative about those mini victories. Beyond mini victories, give yourself bigger victories, have bigger celebrations related to the accomplishment of bigger goals.

For example, let’s say you’re in my course and you have a retroactive jealousy-free month: that’s a victory, a big victory! Take your girlfriend out for a nice dinner or take your husband out for a weekend getaway. Whatever the case may be, make sure that you’re commemorating the accomplishment of these goals.

Make sure there’s actually some payoff associated with all the work that you’re putting in towards overcoming retroactive jealousy, so it’s important to give ourselves a little credit sometimes… Give ourselves little rewards when we accomplish the things we need to accomplish, when we do good work and when we get closer to accomplishing our goals.

Zachary Stockill
Zachary Stockill

Hi! I'm a Canadian author and educator whose work has been featured in BBC News, BBC Radio 4, The Huffington Post, and many other publications. I'm the founder of, the author of Overcoming Retroactive Jealousy and The Overcoming Jealousy Workbook, and the host of Humans in Love podcast.