"Jealousy is the tie that binds, and binds, and binds.” - Helen Rowland
They’ve got it better over there and you want what they have. Or worse yet, you both want the same thing and one of you can’t have it -- the promotion, your mother’s time, the boyfriend, or even Saturday-night-out with a mutual friend.
We normally think of jealousy as an emotion for romantic relationships, but our envy of friends, siblings, classmates and co-workers can all morph into the green-eyed monster. With jealousy, what starts as comparison, develops into a dysfunctional regard that flies right by admiration to rivalry.
There are two issues at the base of this dysfunction -- a fear of loss (or belief in scarcity of opportunity) and a deep-seated insecurity about the self. The fear and scarcity factor explains why anxious people are more prone to jealousy. And while the loss can be real, a rival may get or have the goods, in the bigger picture there is usually not just “one” of anything you may want.
There are other jobs, other lovers, other times to be seen and heard, and lots of room for everyone to find success. In the moment, those may seem too distant to believe in, but there is a forest around this tree. You’ve got to see that forest and then you must believe in your personal power and potential to achieve what you want in and among a field of competitors.
That personal power piece is key. The deep-seated insecurity is what makes us spin the victim narrative around jealousy… “I suck and nothing will ever be good. Why can’t I be them, have what they have, etc.?” Then you project all that disappointment out onto someone else when what you really need to do is direct your energy inward. The object of envy is irrelevant. This is actually about you.
Next time jealousy hits, regain sanity and get centered with these 3 tactics:
Get in touch with the REAL issue - It’s not them. It’s not about the thing you want or what they have. You are suffering here, so tap into the source of these unpleasant emotions. Sit with it, as mucky and gross as it is, and lean into your fears. Run the worst case scenario in an honest way -- he leaves you for her, you lose the promotion, someone always has the better toys and relationships. So what? Now what? It’s unlikely you’ll be forever deprived of success or love or those things you think you need. But it is possible that you’ll never FEEL like you are enough or you have enough. Confront and wrestle with that fear and those feelings because, if you don’t, it lies dormant after this jealousy passes and rears again in your next moment of insecurity.
Stop being reactive - There are people in the world that are toxic and often prompt reactionary behavior from us. They’re out there dishing up negativity and we’re taking the bait. Stop it. Learn the art of Emotional Jujitsu and take control of your own inner emotional life. If a person is back stabbing their way past you to upper management, bragging about their new pool on Facebook or dripping in engagement diamonds, put your armor on, watch your back and do good work in the world. Make their success irrelevant to your life (seriously, it is NOT a competition) and stop reacting to their real or perceived offenses. Get your own offensive game for your own life.
Connect with the bigger picture - Life is precious, everything ends and you are an infinitesimal part of the universe. And this jealousy moment, whatever or whoever it is directed towards, is a tiny, soon-to-be irrelevant, part of your life. Dare to be aware and embrace the insignificance of this petty emotion that does not serve you in the big picture. Move your life forward, toward something greater.