In today’s video, I’m going to talk about how to conquer retroactive jealousy.

Read or watch below to learn more about how to conquer retroactive jealousy.

Zachary Stockill: What can a schoolyard bully teach us about overcoming painful, unwanted, intrusive thoughts about our partner’s past? 

In today’s video, I will explain what a schoolyard bully can teach us about overcoming retroactive jealousy.

My name is Zachary Stockill, and since 2013, I’ve been helping men and women from all over the world overcome retroactive jealousy and save their relationships.

If you’d like more information about my work, please visit this link.  

For those of you here for the first time, the term ‘retroactive jealousy’ refers to unwanted, intrusive thoughts, often obsessive curiosity, and what I call mental movies, about a partner’s past relationships and or sexual slash dating history.

And don’t focus too much on the word ‘jealousy.’ A lot of people who suffer from retroactive jealousy hear the term and think, ‘I’m not jealous, that’s not me.’

Please note that there are many definitions of the word jealousy.

If you’re having painful, unwanted thoughts about your partner’s past, this is considered retroactive jealousy.

So what can a schoolyard bully teach us about beating retroactive jealousy and letting go of all those hellish, nightmarish, painful thoughts about our partner’s past? 

Quite often, not 100 percent of the time, but quite often, negative thoughts, and intrusive thoughts, feed off of emotional energy. 

So as I often mention on this blog, when we’re struggling with painful, unwanted, intrusive thoughts, two processes are going on.

There’s the thought popping into our head, which we don’t have much control over, and then there’s our reaction to the thought. 

This involves the meaning we assign to the thought and the emotional energy we choose, or choose not, to give to it. 

We might not have much control over the thought popping into our head, but we have a lot we can do about our reaction to the thought.

And so, intrusive thoughts feed off emotional energy. Generally, the more you give thoughts attention, energy, and emotions, the more you energize them, making it harder to break the habit of intrusive thinking. 

By offering emotional energy to intrusive thoughts, you’re telling the lizard part of your brain, the hind part, that this thought is important, that we need to think more about this, that it’s a noteworthy thought, important and interesting.

You’re consistently giving your brain the message that this unwanted intrusive thought is important every single time you respond emotionally to the thought. 

So coming back to schoolyard bullies, try to imagine a bully on a schoolyard going around picking on kids. 

What does a schoolyard bully want? A schoolyard bully wants energy.


A schoolyard bully wants attention. They want to feel that emotional reaction from whoever they’re picking on. 

Otherwise, they wouldn’t target anyone. Bullies, being insecure and in a lot of pain, aim to provoke a reaction when they pick on someone. Picture a schoolyard bully taunting a child.

And imagine that the schoolyard bully has become accustomed to getting a certain kind of reaction from the kid when they pick on them. 

Maybe the kid cries, maybe the kid tries to attack them, or maybe the kid lashes out at them in some way. 

The schoolyard bully is getting some kind of an emotional payoff every single time he picks on someone.

So what would happen if that same kid who has faced bullying starts to react differently to the schoolyard bully?

What’s going to happen if that kid who has faced bullying starts withdrawing his emotional energy from the bully? And starts to avoid giving the bully the reaction that the bully has become accustomed to?

What happens when this kid starts responding differently to a schoolyard bully? And not giving that bully the attention, and the energy the bully craves? 

At first, the bully might try harder.

If the bully, accustomed to receiving a certain emotional reaction from their target, no longer gets that reaction… they might initially try even harder to bother the kid.

He might make his insults more intense, or even physically attack the kid. He’s going to try harder at first to get the same reaction. 

But if the kid doesn’t give the bully the reaction he wants, eventually, the bully will get bored.

He’s going to be disappointed over time, and eventually, he’s going to move on. 

So, how does this relate to retroactive jealousy? 

Retroactive jealousy quite often, not always, but quite often, behaves similarly to the bully that I just described. 

A big part of overcoming retroactive jealousy is breaking patterns.


Patterns that sometimes have taken hold over many years or sometimes even decades. 

And the more we can start breaking those patterns and establishing new ones, The greater our chance of beating retroactive jealousy as soon as possible. 

So, my message to you in this article is to start breaking those patterns.

Start changing how you react to unwanted intrusive thoughts. Keep this up for a long enough time, and amazing things will start to happen.

This is a huge component of beating retroactive jealousy and maintaining long-term clarity and peace of mind about your partner’s past. 

Start changing your reaction to your thoughts, and eventually, your thoughts will start to change.

Now, the obvious follow-up question is, ‘Zach, that sounds great, but how do I start controlling my reaction? How do I start responding differently to these painful, unwanted, intrusive thoughts about my partner’s past?’

I’m glad you asked because I’d like to offer everyone reading this article a gift.

Recently, I re-recorded my free four-part video mini-course on how to get started overcoming retroactive jealousy. 

If you sign up for this free mini-course, I’ll send you all four videos over one week. 

You will receive them in your email about seven days after signing up.

And these will give you some crucial tools that will help you overcome retroactive jealousy. 

Some tools, perspectives, and practices are essential for anyone dealing with retroactive jealousy. Knowing these can help move past the problem as quickly as possible.

If you’re struggling with unwanted, intrusive thoughts about your partner’s past and are looking for a quick, easy, and free way to begin, you can unsubscribe at any time. 

Click this link to sign up for my free, four-part video mini-course on how to get started overcoming retroactive jealousy.

If you’d like more information about my work, or you’d like to work with me one on one, please visit this page.

And, be sure you’re subscribed to my YouTube channel as well to be notified of new videos.

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.