In today’s video, I’m going to share three practical, simple tips that you can use to start dealing with retroactive jealousy triggers.

Watch or read below for three tips for retroactive jealousy triggers:

Zachary Stockill: On this channel, I sometimes shy away from offering practical tips and tricks. The reason I’m more drawn to talk about the deeper topics is that I’m wary of leaving any retroactive jealousy sufferers with the impression that all you need is the “quick tip,” the quick hack that will immediately change your life.

There are a lot of charlatans in this space, a lot of people saying “Give me your money, and I can heal you in three hours.” I don’t want to leave anyone with the impression that that kind of thing will immediately solve your problem. I wish it did, but it doesn’t.

I believe that you need to tackle the core underlying issues, perspectives, limiting beliefs; you need to dig up a lot of the subconscious “muck” that you’re probably carrying around with you, and that is likely spurring on your retroactive jealousy.

You need more than the quick tips to beat this problem for good. That said, of course, all the practical tricks can be enormously useful, and there are loads of them in my online courses. On that note, I wanted to share this video with you today to present three very practical tips that you can use when you encounter a retroactive jealousy trigger and when you need some kind of change very quickly.

My number one tip for tips for retroactive jealousy triggers is to remind yourself that this is irrational.

This is not real, this thought you’re having does not represent reality. This thought does not represent a thought that needs to be interrogated, that needs to be seriously examined. If you’re watching this video, if you’ve been struggling with retroactive jealousy for a while, my hope is that you’re very clear on what are deal-breakers and what are not. What are genuine red flags in your partner’s past and what are not. What is a genuine conflict in values and what is not. What is rational and what is irrational.

tips for retroactive jealousy triggers

Hopefully, you have this perspective by now. And if you do have this perspective, and all of a sudden you have an “attack,” or some intrusive thoughts pop up, or you have started experiencing a “mental movie” about your partner’s past, you can immediately remind yourself, “This is not me, this is retroactive jealousy. This is OCD.” If you’re alone, you can even say it out loud. “Hey, this is not me. This is RJ, this is not rational, and this is not a genuine threat that I need to be paying attention to.”

Even though your brain might be having a fear response or threat response, in all likelihood, this is actually your brain misfiring. This is a biochemical imbalance in your brain that’s causing this. It’s not real, it doesn’t represent or reflect reality, it’s not worth digging into. It’s not worth ascribing any more significance to it. It’s simply a thought, a cloud in the sky passing overhead. And fundamentally, it doesn’t represent you and who you truly are deep down.

My second tip is to change your physical state somehow.

Frequently, when someone’s struggling with retroactive jealousy, they’ve built up a pattern in their body and in their brain. So there are similar patterns of behavior that happen to their body every time they get a mental movie or intrusive thought. Changing the brain-body pattern, changing up this ingrained pattern they’ve developed over the past several weeks or months or even years can be extremely useful in defusing the thought a little bit, taking away some of its power.

The classic example that I always use: when I was struggling with retroactive jealousy, my typical bodily response would be tension in my shoulders and a kind of tightness in my face. It was almost like my face, the skin of my face was becoming constricted or something, like a drum skin, getting very, very tight. And this would happen over and over again, every time I’d get a mental movie about my then-girlfriend’s past.

And it took me a while before I realized that this was happening pretty consistently. Once I realized this pattern, I started paying attention to my body. As I talk about all the time, I started practicing observation. I realized that my body was reacting the same way every time I had one of these intrusive thoughts or mental movies. So what I started doing was deliberately changing my bodily response. For me, this involved shaking my shoulders a little bit, and kind of stretching out my face, getting to feel normal again. Also, taking a very deep breath in through my nose and out through my mouth.

When I say a very deep breath, the bottom of your stomach should kind of “rise” a little bit.

You should feel the very bottom of your lungs filling up, that’s when you know you’re breathing very deep. And when you combine changing your physical state, even if it’s very subtle, with taking a very deep breath, it immediately calms the body down a little bit. It tells the body on a deep level, “Everything’s okay here, there’s no real threat, and there’s nothing to be concerned about or worried about. This is irrational, it’s all good.”

There’s a reason people tell you “just take a few deep breaths” when you’re having a stressful time. It’s because it’s helpful. It works. It tells your body at a deep level, that there’s no real fear. You have nothing to worry about, everything’s cool. Getting more oxygen into your bloodstream actually helps to calm you on a deep level. So try this out, change your physical state somehow, even if it’s very subtle, when you’re having one of these intrusive thoughts, when you’re experiencing a mental movie.

tips for retroactive jealousy triggers

One of the reasons that I love this tip is because there’s no intellectualizing here.

You don’t need to meditate, observe, or use your intellect in any way whatsoever. This is more of a physical, “going through the motions” sort of thing.

And by the way, while going through the motions, my tip is, don’t submit to the darkness. Maintain relentless optimism in the face of these challenges, because the more you keep doing this, breaking up your conditioned response to intrusive thoughts to mental movies, the better things will get. It’s like going to the gym. If you go to the gym once, after six months on the couch, you’re not going to see a miracle overnight, the results are not going to be immediate. But, if you go to the gym over and over again, on a consistent basis, eventually it’ll pay off. So hang in there, maintain relentless optimism, and relentless self-discipline.

My final tip for retroactive jealousy triggers today is to relentlessly focus on the task at hand.

What does that mean? If you’re in the middle of a date with your girlfriend and you have one of these thoughts, immediately bring your focus back to the date, back to this gorgeous woman in front of you you’re having dinner with. Whatever the case may be, practice relentless focus on the task at hand.

Another example: let’s say you’re at work, you’re trying to get some office work done, and you have one of these mental movies. Immediately recognize your thoughts are drifting, and then return to a relentless focus on the task at hand. And when I use the word relentless, I mean it, because initially, this process will be difficult. However, when you do this over time, if you stay incredibly disciplined with this process, eventually your brain will get “bored” of the retroactive jealousy, of the intrusive thought, of the mental movie.

It’s going to take time, but if you’re disciplined enough, and you’re really committed to this practice, you’ll get there eventually. Eventually, your brain gets bored, because it’s like, “Well, obviously, this isn’t a real threat. This is nothing that I have to be fearful of. So I’m going to focus on other things. This guy is going to focus on work, or his girlfriend, or whatever. He’s not going to give me the time that I want to focus on this mental movie…”

It’s like your brain is a bully in the schoolyard.

Eventually, it will get bored of bothering his “victim” if his victim seems uninterested in engaging with him. So, relentless focus on the task at hand. And once more, I use this word relentless advisedly, because it requires real determination, a relentless spirit; relentless focus on the task at hand, even if you don’t feel like it. Especially when you don’t feel like it.

Keep returning to whatever you’re supposed to be doing. Keep returning to your job, your date, whatever you’re doing. I hope these tips for retroactive jealousy triggers will help you.

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.