In today’s video, I’m going to share a really important idea for anyone struggling with any kind of retroactive jealousy and insecurity.

As many of you might know, I host a secret Facebook discussion group for students taking one of my online courses. My primary course on overcoming retroactive jealousy and insecurity, or at least my introductory course called Get Over Your Partner’s Past Fast.

Transcript below

Zachary Stockill: At this point at the time I’m recording this, we’re nearly 500 people strong. These are past students in the course. These are often mentors, Retroactive Jealousy survivors.

I often say, that it’s one of the best things I ever did was creating this group.

retroactive jealousy and insecurity

I believe I created it back in 2014, and it’s been enormously rewarding to me on a number of levels. I’m so grateful for the people in that group because they share incredible wisdom that forces me to pause and think, such as what I’m about to share with you today.

Recently, one of the members of the group made a great sort of pithy comment that I wanted to share.

This person said, “Stop trying to compete with ghosts.”

What an interesting way to frame retroactive jealousy and insecurity or any experience of irrational jealousy. You can even broaden this outside of retroactive jealousy or insecurity, outside of irrational jealousy, to your whole life.

How much of our days do we spend trying to compete with ghosts, trying to compete with people who don’t exist?

Trying to compete with a version of ourselves that doesn’t exist? Worrying that people are talking about us when they actually aren’t? Worrying about events that happened years and years ago, which have no real bearing on our experience of the present moment?

Now, for anyone struggling with retroactive jealousy or insecurity, you probably know the answer. The chances are good that you’re spending far too much of your time competing with ghosts on some level.

Maybe, you’re worrying about people your partner was with 10, 15, 25 years ago. These people are ghosts, they no longer exist. You have your partners at the present, and the present goes by like that.

We can barely even grasp how incredibly precious and valuable the present moment is because it goes by so fast.

Me and everyone watching this video will die someday.

This is a fact that I think Westerners love to deny. We love to deny the reality of death. Push it out of the way, don’t think about it. Pretend that it doesn’t exist.

If someone brings up the topic of death, they’re dismissed as being, “Oh, that’s morbid talk. We can’t talk about that.”

retroactive jealousy and insecurity

Facing that reality is one of the best things I believe we can do for our ability to enjoy life.

When you really have death in your consciousness, it automatically inspires you to appreciate life more. Being able to speak to an audience of thousands of people on YouTube and enjoy the beautiful day in my backyard with the pool nearby.

Just everything becomes so much more enjoyable, every experience imbued with so much more life when we consider death.

How does this relate to what I was just saying about competing with ghosts? So often we waste our time competing with ghosts, worrying about things and people who don’t matter.

We spend all of this time fretting away our time, worrying needlessly. This costs us the present.

All of this competition with ghosts is costing us our ability to enjoy the present moment, which is what we have. This is all that exists.

The more time we waste competing with ghosts, the less time we have to appreciate beautiful moments in this present moment.

To the person watching this video, and hearing my voice right now, hopefully, my videos will still be relevant years from now.

Looking at this image right now, this is all that exists. If you are competing with ghosts on some level, if you’re struggling with retroactive jealousy, irrational jealousy, whatever it is, I urge you to reconsider.

Really think hard about how you want to spend your time, how you want to remember these moments. These years, these precious months, that perhaps you’re wasting wrestling with retroactive jealousy, struggling with things you don’t need to be struggling with, worrying about people who don’t need to be worried about, wasting time.

One of the main reasons I do this work, I feel so passionate about helping people overcome jealousy and possessiveness in their relationships. I look back on certain periods of my life, certain years, and I have enormous regret about wasted time.

“You can always make more money. You can always buy more stuff. But time is something we never get back.”

This little comment in my Facebook group is a great way to sum this situation up.

Stop competing with ghosts. I’m going to continue making more of an effort to stop competing with ghosts over the coming days, and I would invite you to do the same.


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 RetroactiveJealousy.com, the author of Overcoming Retroactive Jealousy and The Overcoming Jealousy Workbook, and the host of Humans in Love podcast.