In today’s video, I’m going to share the number one lie that most retroactive jealousy sufferers tell themselves at least once a day.

So: what is the #1 retroactive jealousy lie?

Zachary Stockill: If you’re struggling with retroactive jealousy, chances are good that you’re lying to yourself on at least one, but probably several levels. You’re probably telling yourself half a dozen little lies each and every day. You’re probably buying into false narratives that the retroactive jealousy demon is constructing in your brain that don’t reflect reality.

All of these false narratives are feeding your anxiety, and your brain’s subconscious threat response, and are hindering your progress for weeks, months, maybe even years at a time.

We have a tendency of telling ourselves this retroactive jealousy lie when we’re struggling.

When we’re in the thick of retroactive jealousy, when we’re in the midst of a really intense trigger attack, or we are suddenly reminded of some little element from our partner’s past that seems to haunt us day and night, it can be all too easy to completely lose perspective on the situation, to lose track of what’s real and what’s not, what is a genuine red flag and what is not, what your partner actually thinks, feels and wants. Because, it’s so easy to lose perspective, especially if we’ve been struggling with retroactive jealousy for many months, years, or in some cases, even decades.

It’s very likely that our brain is accustomed to certain thought patterns, destructive, negative painful cycles of faulty logic, and false thinking. False consciousness, false thoughts that aren’t serving us and that aren’t helping our recovery and that are in fact holding us back, again and again. However, I believe it’s an absolutely crucial mistake to adopt a victim mentality, where you feel like you’re a victim of your thoughts, or you think they “can’t be escaped,” and you think that thoughts are always representative of what’s actually going on.

retroactive jealousy lie

I’m not saying that retroactive jealousy isn’t painful and frustrating. But if you accept a victim mentality, if you just assume that thoughts are inescapable, and you’ll “always feel this way,” you’re going to keep suffering over and over again.

Overcoming retroactive jealousy requires relentless optimism. Optimism in the face of all lost hope. Optimism even if you don’t feel like being optimistic.

I have heard the worst stories you can possibly imagine. I’ve heard every retroactive jealousy story that you can possibly imagine. And I’ve seen the worst cases, the worst cases make remarkable changes in as little as two weeks. This is possible, and that brings me to the topic of today’s video.

The number one retroactive jealousy lie sufferers tell themselves on a daily basis is: “I’m always going to feel this way. There never will be any change. I’m never going to work past this. The way that I think about my partner’s past today is the way that I’m going to think about my partner’s past forever. There’s no escape. The way I’m feeling in this moment is the way I’m always going to feel about this issue.”

Our present mental state sometimes feels inescapable when in reality, the only thing we know for sure about life is that change is inevitable.

This is one of the Buddha’s great insights: that the nature of life and the nature of reality is change. So, we do ourselves and others a disservice when we cling too much to certain negative emotions or certain states of being when we feel locked into certain patterns or certain habits, when the only thing we know for sure is that change is constant.

And by the way, I think that I have a tendency of kind of falling into this negative, ridiculous thought pattern, particularly when I’m sick when I’m physically ill. So most of the time, I’m very productive. I’m very active. I love getting lots of work done, staying busy, and pursuing my hobbies, and all the rest.

If I have a day where I’m feeling sick, on some level, I’ll realize that I’m thinking, in the back of my head, “I’m always going to feel like this. What if I feel like this tomorrow and the day after? And what if this doesn’t change?” I completely lose perspective on the fact that if I take some medication, if I get good sleep, if I eat well, and all the things that help us to get better to cure physically–if I do everything I need to do, I am going to get past this.

This state is not forever. I’m having a bad day. I don’t have a bad life.

This is the dark side of staying present. I’m big on mindfulness meditation, embracing the power of the present moment, and doing our best to stay present and stay grounded. It’s so useful and can be so calming.

retroactive jealousy lie

Being present can be great, it’s absolutely essential to living a good life. But in certain challenging moments, being “too present” can actually be a hindrance to our recovery, to our bouncing back from a negative thought cycle.

Accordingly, when I talk about relentless optimism, this is what I’m talking about: “I feel bad right now and I’m not going to feel bad tomorrow. I’ve been watching Zach’s course, or I’m taking someone else’s course, or reading Zach’s guidebook, or whatever. I’m gathering resources. I’m gathering information. I have options to change my state, to do some crucial redirecting activities, to completely transform the state of my brain.”

Practice relentless optimism, and always maintain your awareness of the state of reality, the state of change.

Don’t think that you’re a victim of any moment, or that you’re “always going to feel” a certain way because the only thing we know for sure in life is that life is change. Therefore, you’re not always going to feel this way. As long as you make the necessary changes, it will get better.

Try to remember this when you’re going through your darkest moments, when it feels like all hope has been lost, and you’re never going to get past this. You can and you will if you just take the necessary steps.

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.