We've all seen cartoons in which a character shapes snow into a ball, perhaps to build a snowman. As the ball of snow is rolled, it grows bigger and bigger.

Pretty soon that snowball is quite large and here comes a slope or hill... The next thing we see are the arms and legs of our beloved mouse, dog or other cartoon character sticking out from this gigantic snowball that is quickly rolling down the hill, continuing to grow and knock out anything in its way.

Giant out-of-control snowballs are funny in cartoons, but there's nothing funny when jealousy snowballs in your relationship.

If you've ever been jealous, you probably know what we're talking about.

Let's say that you have a tendency to get jealous. You and your partner are out together at a bar, restaurant, party, with friends or some other place. Then, you see your partner look at or talk with another person who, to you, seems attractive and is maybe even being too friendly to your man or woman.

Jealousy begins to form right then and there. With every worrisome or irritated thought about your partner, this other person and the whole situation, your “snowball” of jealousy grows and grows.

What at first seemed to be manageable feelings are now starting to fill your entire mind. You can't seem to focus on anything else but what is possibly happening (or about to happen) between your mate and this other person.

From there, the out-of-control jealousy might lead you to make a scene, confront your partner and the other person or simply storm out of the room.

There's no doubt about it. Jealousy can severely damage your relationship and you.

But the good new is this: You can stop jealousy before it becomes that unmanageable and huge “snowball.”

Here's how...

#1) Recognize jealous signs when they're little.
This makes so much sense, but so few people actually do it. When you make a commitment to stop jealousy, the first step is figure out what triggers you and what jealousy feels like in your body.

Take some time and write down on a piece of paper the specific situations, words and any other things that trigger jealousy for you. For example: “When my boyfriend looks at the female bartender too long” or “When my girlfriend flirts and giggles with other men” may be on your list.

Don't try to figure out why these things trigger you or who is to blame. Just focus in on what they are.

Now, remember the last time you felt really jealous. Where in your body did you feel intense, hot, cold or stiff? If might have been nausea in the pit of your stomach or a clenching in your arms and hands.

Knowing what often happens and when can help you sit up and take notice. You can recognize that jealousy is forming for you and then take steps to interrupt your usual pattern before it gets any more intense.

#2) Learn to listen to you...not your fears and insecurities.
What frequently happens when jealousy has taken hold in a person's mind is that he or she is mostly hearing internal fears and worries about the relationship. These sometimes derive from a low self esteem or feeling self-conscious in some way.

One effective way to cut through the chatter of fear and insecurities is to take a deep breath and ask yourself this question: “Do I know this to be true?”

If you tell yourself something like, “He thinks that she is prettier than I am.” Interrogate that self-defeating statement with, “Do I know this to be true?”

More often than not, you don't actually know if what you are claiming-- and basing your jealousy upon-- is accurate or not.

This questioning can help you clear space in your mind. It can allow you to get at what you DO know with certainty. From there, you can take action based on knowing, not jealousy.

#3) Find out what to make a “big deal” about.
When you look back on times when your jealousy has snowballed into something huge and out-of-control, your might regret that you made such a “big deal about nothing.”

As you learn how to recognize the signs of jealousy when they are little and you start listening to you and not your fears and insecurities, THEN you will know when you really do need to make a big deal about something.

There are times when it is valid and wise to set a boundary or make an agreement.

The flirting that your partner is doing with others may not merely be a figment of your jealous mind. There may be inappropriate behaviors going on.

When we recommend that you make a big deal about some things, we aren't suggesting that it's a good idea to yell around at your partner (or anyone else).

We encourage you to make a big deal of whatever the issue is by making it a priority. Don't shove aside your desire that your partner make a clearer or stronger commitment to you and your relationship.

Instead, sit down with him or her and talk about how you feel. Make requests for what you want. Be sure to also listen to where your mate is coming from.

Of course, none of this needs to be motivated by jealousy.

You can have the close, connected and harmonious relationship that you want. Stop letting your jealousy get in the way.

Author's Bio: 

For more techniques to overcome jealousy, sign up for Susie and Otto Collins' FREE mini-course "No More Jealousy."

Susie and Otto Collins are relationship coaches and authors who help couples communicate, connect and create the passionate relationships they desire. They have written these e-books and programs: Magic Relationship Words, Relationship Trust Turnaround, No More Jealousy and Stop Talking on Eggshells among many others.