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In today’s video, I’m going to talk about what it’s like to share the most embarrassing episode of your life on the front page of one of the biggest news publications on the planet.
Read or watch the video below to know about my personal experience with retroactive jealousy on the first page of BBC News.
Zachary Stockill: In today’s video, I’m going to talk about what it’s like to talk about the most embarrassing episode of your life on the front page of one of the biggest news publications in the world.
Back in 2018, I received an email from a journalist at BBC News. Most of you probably know, but BBC News is probably the biggest media organization in the United Kingdom, with enormous reach all over the world. BBC World News was always a constant for me on my travels, whatever hotel room I was in. All over the world, you can usually find BBC News.
A BBC journalist wrote to me asking me if I’d be willing to go on the record and talk to her about my experience of retroactive jealousy as a younger man.
Retroactive jealousy is one of the most painful and frustrating experiences that any human being can go through.
For most of the people reading this or watching this video, I’m sure you probably know that 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 history. The short version is: it is hell.
And back in 2018, it had been, I think, four or maybe five years, I think, since I’d had been talking about retroactive jealousy publicly. I’ve been doing this for a while. But I’d never put myself out there to such an extent that it was very likely that my grandparents and my friends from high school and all these people from my life would know about my own struggles with retroactive jealousy as a younger man.
Frankly, I’ve always been very proud of the work that I do. I love my job, I love what I do. And I’ll proclaim that from the rooftops. But back in 2018 at least, I was still a little bit embarrassed, really, to talk about this issue publicly. Because a lot of the ways that I used to behave and act out and feel back in 2018, were still embarrassing for me.
I’m a pretty confident guy, I’m a pretty proud person. But talking about the most embarrassing episode of your life on the front page of BBC News was, at first, a bit of a daunting prospect for me.
But I got over it. I did the interview with a journalist who did a great job. And I wrote this article in conjunction with her that was published on the front page of BBC News. So I woke up one morning, and I literally saw retroactive jealousy on the front page of my BBC News app. Some people have asked me, what was that like? And It was fascinating because my website absolutely blew up that day. I got all kinds of emails and interests. And the overriding message I got from so many people was a message of gratitude, thanking me for talking about this issue publicly.
People had been living with this issue for 10, 20, and 30 years before they read about it on BBC News. They recognized their story in my story. Many people, fortunately, found it really helpful, liberating, that now they had a term to associate with this weird disorder, retroactive jealousy. Obviously, this led to a lot of people finding my work, my books, my courses like “Get Over Your Partner’s Past Fast”, and all the rest, and getting relief and peace of mind.
So I’m extremely grateful to have gone through this experience and been talking about this on the front page of BBC News. Another very interesting thing that might surprise some of you watching this video:
We tend to think of retroactive jealousy as an extremely rare issue.
I started getting emails, not many, but a few from people in my personal life, including some family members, who experienced the same symptoms and who’ve gone through the same experience that I was talking about.
So the lesson I drew from that, and perhaps the lesson that you can draw as well, is that retroactive jealousy is, for most people, an incredibly private and embarrassing experience, one that they don’t want to talk about. I had people in my personal life who only felt comfortable talking to me about this issue only after I did the article on retroactive jealousy on BBC News. So I think this shows that retroactive jealousy is far more common than we may realize.
It was very liberating, in a way, and it remains liberating today.
The other big lesson for me was just how incredibly liberating it is to talk about the most embarrassing episode of your life on the front page on one of the biggest news outlets in the world.
Because once you get that out there, once you’re vulnerable enough to share your story, it’s this incredibly liberating feeling of, “Well, there’s nothing really left to hide. I’ve got nothing to lose.” And a new sense of “I care even less than I did before about what other people think of me,” people judging and people calling you names and all this stuff.
I think since I started writing about this issue publicly, since I published my book, Overcoming Retroactive Jealousy, since I started doing my blog, and all the rest back in 2013, I’ve been pretty good at dealing with criticism and dealing with haters.
Because anytime you write or speak about anything, and I mean anything on the internet, that’s going to attract criticism, and trolls and all that stuff.
I’ve always been pretty good at dealing with them. But after going through this experience with the BBC, talking about this publicly, my sense of just not giving a rat’s ass about other people, about their opinions of me, and their criticisms really grew.
Life gets better the less you care about what other people think.
And that was my biggest lesson in this: just how incredibly valuable and liberating it can be to give less and less of a care about what other people think. This article was the biggest public exposure that retroactive jealousy has ever had. And I’m grateful to the journalist who helped me with that. But above all, if you take away anything from this article:
I would say retroactive jealousy is more common than you realize. You don’t have to be embarrassed like I was. It’s really not a big deal. You didn’t choose this.
But you can choose your actions and your perspectives, and your response to it. That’s not to absolve you of the blame for treating your partner poorly or anything like I used to do.
But the point is you can do something about this. You wouldn’t judge someone for struggling with OCD, for example, someone who goes to check to make sure their door is locked 50 times every night. You wouldn’t judge that person. And there’s no reason to judge retroactive jealousy sufferers as well. But most people are not that judgmental. Most people were incredibly kind and understanding and appreciative of me sharing this message.
So I would encourage you to talk more about this issue publicly and to open up to people. You don’t have to start blogging or do what I do or talk to BBC News on retroactive jealousy. But it is liberating to share more of yourself with the world, and build up that tolerance to criticism and negative feedback.