In today’s video, I talk about one of the most important and impactful books that helped me overcome retroactive jealousy.

Read or watch below how the book Man’s Search for Meaning can help you beat retroactive jealousy.

Zachary Stockill: Back when I was struggling with retroactive jealousy, it probably won’t surprise you to know that I read a lot of books. I’ve been a reader my whole life. And when I was really struggling with unwanted intrusive thoughts, and obsessive curiosity about my then girlfriend’s past, I was a voracious reader. I read everything I could get my hands on, that I thought could potentially help me out. 

Of course, some books were very good. Some books were very bad. But there was one book in particular that I read that had a huge impact on me. It’s definitely not what you’re thinking. And in today’s video, I want to talk about…

One of the most important, impactful books that helped me overcome retroactive jealousy. 

Back when I was in university, I guess over the course of seven years, I studied history. I love history, it’s been one of my passions pretty much ever since I can remember. And it may sound odd that a history book helped me overcome retroactive jealousy. But that’s kind of what happened. 

As you may or may not know, a lot of literature came out of the Holocaust. I’m sure most people would know what the Holocaust is. It was the period in the late 30s, up to 1945, during World War Two, when Hitler persecuted Europe’s Jews. Over 6 million European Jews died in the Holocaust. And, over 6 million members of other persecuted groups died in the Holocaust. The numbers vary, but that’s about it. 

The darkest period of human history was absolutely appalling; concentration camps, mass starvation, and mass death. It was absolutely horrifying. 

But out of the Holocaust emerges some truly remarkable literature. You’ve probably heard of the Diary of Anne Frank, the book “Night” by Elie Wiesel, which is another absolutely astonishingly good book. 

Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl is another.

Man's Search for Meaning

Viktor Frankl was an Austrian psychotherapist, who is also a Holocaust survivor. And he wrote a book called Man’s Search for Meaning. I don’t want to give away the book because I want to encourage you to read it. It’s a tremendous read. 

And it isn’t a history book, per se. It’s more about psychology and philosophy. But there are some crucial lessons in this book that can help you with your life and can help you with problems like retroactive jealousy. There are a lot of lessons in that book. But the biggest one that I took away, and I think one of the biggest ones that many people take away from “Man’s Search for Meaning”, is that:

In life, anything can be taken away from you. We can lose almost everything; we can lose our freedom, we can lose our family, we can lose 50 pounds when we’re starving to death, we can lose our mobility, we can lose our physical health. It seems like we can lose everything. 

One day we will lose everything because we will die. But there’s one thing that no one can take away from you. 

There’s one thing that we always have power over. And that is: our perspective on what happens to us. Our perspective on life. 

Dr. Frankl observed this during the Holocaust when he had everything taken from him: his family, his freedom, his safety, and his physical health. And he saw the way that his compatriots in the concentration camp were responding to these horrible conditions as well. And he saw that the people who survived–at least most of the people who survived–were those who decided to take better perspectives; those who said “I’m going to live come hell or high water,” those who truly “owned” their perspectives on life, rather than letting the concentration camp guards take those away as well. 

We can lose everything, but we never lose the ability to choose our perspectives. 

And in essence, our enjoyment of life, our happiness, and our mental health depends so much on the perspectives that we choose to take on; the stories we choose to tell ourselves about who we are, what we want, and what’s happening to us.

And by the way, just to make this crystal clear, I am in no way trying to compare the experience of the Holocaust during World War Two to struggling with retroactive jealousy. These are completely different experiences. But my point is I found this perspective on perspective, enormously helpful and liberating. 

Because I think before I read Man’s Search for Meaning, I was locked in my own narratives. I was telling myself all these unhelpful, depressing stories. And I was taking on a victim mentality. I felt like a “victim” of my partner’s past.

And as I always say, studying history, and reading about history, especially primary accounts like this, can be enormously humbling. They can help you realize all the gifts in your life. And sometimes they can give you a bit of a “kick in the seat” to get yourself out of a victim mentality.

But the main idea that Man’s Search for Meaning leaves you with is that you always have the power to choose better perspectives. 

Man's Search for Meaning

So why not do that?

We’re telling ourselves stories about what’s happening to us all the time. Sometimes, we’re telling ourselves stories about ourselves, about our partner, about the world, about the future, about today, about tomorrow, about yesterday… We’re always telling ourselves a story, so why not come up with a better one? Why not choose to put together and believe in a different story? 

We think maybe the stories we’re telling ourselves, “Well, that’s the truth. Those are the facts…” when, quite often, there’s no inherent truth in any of the perspectives that we’re taking on.

The story that we’re telling ourselves about our partner, or their past, or the future, or the relationship, is not necessarily true, or untrue. So why not choose a better story that could also be true or untrue? 

The point is: we’re telling ourselves stories anyway. And there’s no inherent meaning in any of these stories, so why not choose better ones? 

Please be sure to head over to Amazon and buy “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor Frankl. It is one of the most impactful books I’ve ever read. And if you’re a retroactive jealousy sufferer, I’m telling you this book will help you beat retroactive jealousy. Even if it doesn’t seem immediately obvious.

On a related note, this month I released a brand new online video masterclass, called “The Path to Peace”.

This masterclass is, in essence, about seeing through the noise in your head. Choosing different perspectives: determining what’s really important to you and discarding what is not, and getting your true intuitive sense of the best course of action you should take when it comes to your retroactive jealousy, when it comes to your current relationship. 

“The Path to Peace” was for retroactive jealousy sufferers who are having questions, doubts, and concerns about their partner’s past. And what their partner’s past “means” in the grand scheme of things. Because, as I often say, not all retroactive jealousy is irrational. Sometimes walking away is absolutely the right decision. 

But the point is, you need to see clearly enough to make that decision with a level head, rather than letting your irrational emotions run the show.

So if you have genuine concerns about your partner’s past, their past choices, their morals, perhaps, and your compatibility with your partner, I think you’ll get a lot out of my new online video masterclass “The Path to Peace”

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.