The concept of “The Dark Passenger” is found within the TV series Dexter. This passenger represents the “darkness” in each person’s personality that one has to constantly struggle with to keep control over. As Dexter so notably states, “The only way to kill a Dark Passenger is to take out the Driver.”
Who is my dark passenger?
“Territorialness” & Jealousy
Jealousy — that sickening combination of possessiveness, suspicion, rage, and humiliation — can overtake your mind and threaten your very core as you contemplate your rival.1
I feel like I am the prime example of Shakespeare’s green-ey’d monster. I have been extremely territorial and easily made jealous since I was a toddler. Therapists (no, I’ve never been to one) often attribute extreme cases of jealousy or territorial tendencies to a childhood trauma or a symptom of a psychological problem. Individuals who feel inadequate, insecure, or overly dependent tend to be more jealous than others. Is my dark passenger due to some suppressed childhood trauma, fear of abandonment, insecurity, or a psychological problem? Perhaps….. I feel like it is more of an innate quality about myself and not experience dependent. It’s a part of my “personality DNA.” That isn’t to say that unfortunate events in my past haven’t made this trait more predominant, but this aspect of my personality has always been a part of me. As a toddler I didn’t talk often even though I knew how. I’m always been quite and kept to myself which unfortunately is often interpreted as, “She’s a snobby bitch.” In kindergarten I got a certificate for being shy (don’t get me started on our educational systems) because I would always play by myself, I would rarely talk and if I did it was quietly (almost a whisper), and I would avoid as much human interaction as possible. I remember as a little girl I just wanted to be left alone (I’m still that way most of the time). I didn’t want others in my space, talking to me, or touching things that I felt I had possession or dominion over. I felt most people were far too loud (I still think that). While I am still a very introverted person I wouldn’t consider myself shy…. just anti-social and extremely territorial. Now….. I don’t want you thinking that if you borrow a pen from me, stand too close, or look at me the wrong way that I’m going to go psycho on your ass. Most of the time when feelings of territorialness or jealousy arise it is an internal battle and the only external portrayal is I get standoffish. Even I understand that some, not all, of the things I feel territorial over or jealous about are unwarranted. Now that I am older my territorial nature is more prominent in relationships (academic, work, romantic, friendships, familial, etc). I try to be as logical as possible so knowing some of my reactions and feelings towards situations are unwarranted makes me frustrated. I have, over the years, tried to find useful content to help cope with this aspect of my personality specifically when it comes to romantic relationships. And let me tell you, there is a lot more useless advice out there regarding jealousy than there is helpful. An example of some of the useless advice I’ve read is as follows: It is only when we grasp that it is God we should aim to please that we will be able to recognize and overcome jealousy and, like Jesus, be jealous only for the glory of God.2
Has reading about tips to help cope with territorial tendencies and jealousy helped? Uh, not really… if I’m being honest…. It has given me content to think about but it hasn’t made me less territorial. I don’t know how to change that aspect of my personality. It’s like trying to change my skin color (I’m not as talented as Michael Jackson). The only thing I know how to do is to not act upon those emotions when they arise in unwarranted situations… which is a whole other battle (suppressing emotions can eat away at you which is counterproductive. I’m not saying I am going to ignore the emotions I feel. But I do need to think about them before deciding whether or not to respond or act upon them. You have to choose your battles… is acting on unwarranted emotions worth it? I’m not saying I never talk about unwarranted emotions. But if I do choose to talk about them it needs to be in a nonthreatening setting (no accusations).). Knowing how to handle emotions of jealousy is not the hard part. The hard part is accepting certain aspects/facts of life, not acting rashly on unwarranted emotions that arise, and not having unrealistic expectations. All that being said, I have compiled a list of material I have come across regarding jealousy that I didn’t classify as worthless content. I thought I would share it on my blog so that others who battle with this same dark passenger don’t have to weed though all the garbage material that I did. I probably should have skipped all the background information on myself as I fear I have made myself sound psychotic. Anyway, without further adieu:
- Identify the situations that triggering your feelings of jealousy.
- Build your self-confidence. Jealousy is usually a by-product of insecurity and low self-worth. You may have fears of being abandoned or rejected by someone close to you.
- Avoid comparing yourself to other people.
- Have reasonable expectations about how much time someone can devote to you.
- Do the opposite of what a jealous person would do. When you feel jealousy taking over, don’t react in a destructive way by making accusations, giving someone the silent treatment, or dropping little sarcastic hints. Instead, try to do what a trusting person would do in your place.
- Recognize the paranoia that is a part of jealousy. Jealousy causes you to react to a fantasy scenario that’s all in your mind. In reality, the bad things that you’re imagining may never happen at all.
- Be trusting.
- Listen to your feelings because they’re telling you something valuable. If you’re feeling jealous, your emotions are telling you that something is happening, and you don’t like it. Your significant other may be more flirtatious or participate in activities with other people more than you would like. Boundaries need to be set so you both know what’s appropriate and what’s not in terms of interacting with other people. Once boundaries are established, trust your partner and don’t let jealousy get the best of you.
- Develop an optimistic view of people.
- Fully experience the feeling. By telling yourself not to feel jealous, you will never be able to get out of it. “What we resist persists”. But if we bring awareness into the equation and deeply understand the situation, we’ll start to eliminate the negative emotions. Allow yourself to fully feel the feeling of jealousy. By facing the emotion directly and fully experiencing it, you’ll see that the feeling will start to diminish.
- Shift your focus. When we are feeling negative, it is sometimes difficult to think rationally. We are so focused on the negative feeling that we lose the big picture. Start focusing on all that’s positive in your relationship.
- The best way to deal with jealousy is conversation and logic.
- Stop wanting what other people have if you’re not willing to go through what they did to get it.