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Football Therapy: Jealousy

Exploring the connections between life skills and fantasy football.

In addition to being a staff writer for Footballguys by night, I’m a therapist by day. No, I don’t put people on the couch like Sigmund does. I spend most of my day educating and empowering my clients to leave my office with fulfillment and purpose. What I’ve learned, and quite by accident might I add, is that many of the life skills that I teach and practice in therapy are actually applicable in the context of playing fantasy football. In these writings, I will seek to show the reader connections between these life skills and those needed to be a successful fantasy owner. My hope is not only to improve your prowess as an owner, but to give you skills that will help you lead a wonderful life.

Jealousy is a feeling that is tough to define, as it can take many forms. Sometimes, it is simply thinking the worst of someone else’s motives. Other times, it is becoming hostile towards another who has a perceived advantage. In still other cases, it is the hypervigilant defense of a possession already owned.

While jealousy has its manifestations in everyday living, it often rears its ugly, green head in the context of fantasy football. There can be any number of ways in which it can creep. Perhaps an owner pulled off a trade where they were a clear winner and another owner protests, only because he or she secretly wishes they had been able to do the same thing. Maybe a player becomes jealous by considering how bare his trophy case is compared to his opponents. It is possible that one could become jealous of a rival simply having a better constructed team. Those are some common scenarios, but the situations and contexts that jealousy might exist within fantasy leagues are varied.

At the root of jealousy, we find worry and fear. Fear of not being the best and therefore, not being good enough or worthy. Worry of losing something we value to someone else. Anxiety about losing what is needed to thrive or survive. The knowledge of the nature of the problem, I believe, is the key to combating it. Understanding that these feelings are rooted in fear, particularly the motivation to protect one's own interests, is crucial to dealing with jealousy, both as the recipient and as the one experiencing it.

We need to recognize that feelings are just that-- feelings. To have them is not wrong, but to act upon feelings in ways that harm others is. My mother used to tell a story to illustrate this point. There was a man sitting under a great tree, minding his own business. Suddenly, a bird landed upon his head! Instead of shooing it away, the man allowed it to stay. Soon, it built a nest in his hair. More time passed and it laid eggs in the nest. Before he knew it, the man had a family of birds living in his locks. The care and upkeep of the birds consumed his life. My mom then imparted the moral of the story. Nothing was wrong with the bird landing on his head. It was not something the man could control. However, allowing the bird to nest there was an obvious mistake. Jealousy is much like that bird in that it can come upon anyone suddenly. The mistake is allowing it to stay there indefinitely. So how does one “shoo the bird away” and not allow jealousy to take hold? Here are a few methods with which my clients tend to have success.

Realize What We Can’t Control

Uncertainty is part of life. There will be constant threats to our happiness, safety, and well-being. We often seek to have a tidy life, with problems cleaned up and everything resolved nicely. Life, however, seldom allows moments of complete peace and resolution. When matters are cleared up, it’s not often in the timely manner we would like. Accepting this truth makes the journey easier. Instead of constant disappointment over not being able to make life conform to our wishes and desires, we can learn to roll with the punches and savour the moments of bliss and joy that we do experience.

Realize Our Worth

As we’ve noted earlier, jealousy can be tied to insecurity and lack of self-esteem. A big part of this deficit lies in the faulty beliefs, “I have to be good at everything” or “If I’m not good at x, I’m no good at all.” When we realize that we all have strengths and weaknesses, things at which we excel and things at which we are not as competent, it relieves considerable pressure. I’ve also addressed the subject of self-esteem in a previous article and encourage you to read it if you are seeking more specific interventions for low self-esteem.

Realize Our Opportunity for Growth

Jealousy is often motivated by our desire to possess what we do not have. The funny thing is, this is often where initiative stops. The feeling of longing persists, but there is no action taken to achieve the goal. Instead of continuing to wallow, identify how improvement can occur and plan action steps that will lead there.

Example: Cain sees that Able is a better dynasty owner who constructs rosters that perennially compete for the championship. He begins to feel jealous of Able’s success, but recognizes these feelings building within himself. Cain decides to make and execute a focused plan to improve his own skills. He talks to Able about his methods. He reads articles about dynasty strategy from Footballguys and around the web. He joins multiple dynasty leagues and experiments. In turn, Cain learns and grows, making him the better player he desired be in the beginning.

Final Thoughts

“A peaceful heart leads to a healthy body;  jealousy is like cancer in the bones.” - Proverbs 14:30 (NLT)

“Jealousy is the tie that binds, and binds, and binds.” -Helen Rowland

“Life is one big road with lots of signs. So when you riding through the ruts, don't complicate your mind. Flee from hate, mischief and jealousy. Don't bury your thoughts, put your vision to reality. Wake up and live!” - Bob Marley

Allowing jealousy more than a moment’s rest in our mind can lead to serious problems. It’s imperative that we understand the underlying fears and anxieties that lead to jealous feelings. Only when we begin to do the work to deal with the root causes can we be sure that jealousy will not have its way with us!