I was having a conversation recently with a long time friend surrounding jealousy. She made a comment that she shouldn’t feel jealous, I had to stop her and say it’s totally ok to feel jealousy. She said however that she had recently come to a realization that her own jealousy had in the past stopped her from celebrating others.
This made me think that there are different ways to be jealous and to deal with jealously. I, myself, am jealous often – I am a dreamer, hopeful, and a realist and in that combo most times I can see others, be jealous, envy what they have, or have accomplished but can do so with the reality that their success or good fortune doesn’t take away from mine.
Others can not. That is where jealousy or envy can go wrong.
This friend of mine is an accomplished runner, like super fast and I admire her for it. I am jealous that she has help to watch her kids to go on long runs, I wish I was built like her so I could be even slightly be capable of what she is, but the reality is that she works her butt off and makes other sacrifices for something she loves. She is motivated, driven and exceptional – I can not begrudge her for that. She has earned her amazing times and fitness level. The reality is I am motivated but not nearly as much as she is in this goal.
Well, you might say what about people that are lucky in life. I mean truly lucky, as I do believe there are some out there that have few struggles. They are born into privilege, natural intelligent, physically gifted, etc. What about those people? You can begrudge those, right?
Nope, and why not? Because what others have doesn’t take away from me or you.
Sure, there are times my lesser self has (and might still) feel unhealthy envy but I can snap out of it by reminding myself that this persons’ happiness, luck, accomplishments have nothing to do with me and if they do than being happy for someone else is a much better feeling than begrudging.
But it’s ok to be jealous, to wish that you had an easier day. To be jealous that your family isn’t as close as others or that they have both parents or went on vacations every year or live in a nice house. It’s ok to be jealous because it’s a natural feeling, it’s an emotion and it can’t necessarily be controlled.
What can be controlled is how you react to your jealousy (maybe not in the moment, but long term). Do you allow it to lessen your own accomplishments? Do you allow it to be an excuse to hurt others? Do you allow it to prevent you from making connections?
This are where jealously and envy are not ok.
I think where we as humans fail sometimes is that we forget that we are human, we are flawed. Jealously is a flaw, an uncomfortable feeling but it’s natural. I think we are conditioned to believe that all flaws should be pushed down, and ignored but in doing so it actually exacerbates them. If we aren’t able to be honest and open about our weaknesses than we deflect and aren’t able to grow.
If you push down your feelings than your reaction or treatment of others is skewed. You might not consciously notice it but you end up being a hurtful or spiteful person. Whereas owning the feeling, looking at it, allows you to do a few things, all positive or healthy. You can choose to celebrate the event, person, etc. (that one might be tough), you can choose to let it go and be grateful for your own successes/good things, etc. , or you can choose to set a goal for yourself to get you where your perceived inequality is.
I believe that to be able to get over jealously you need to be able to understand and accept yourself. Accept what/who you are, what you value and what you are or are not capable or willing to do.
I’ll never forget watching my friend run her second half marathon (might have been first even) with her dad and I mentioned how impressed I was with her. He said to me that I would never be able to do that. Now this man is one of the most wonderful humans I have ever met, so what he said might seem harsh but I think he was just being a) proud of his daughter and b) being realistic, I would never be that fast. My response to that was to sign up for a half marathon the following year, my goal was no where near my friend’s time (because that would be silly for me) but was to finish without walking and with my own goal time (about 40 min longer than her at the time, best time). I felt so good when I accomplished my goal and I feel just as good watching my friend consistently crush hers.
The biggest thing jealousy takes away from us is the ability to be grateful. Grateful for what we have, what we ourselves are capable of and what our potential is.
Getting wrapped up in it and not reflecting inwards will end negatively. I mentioned in my last post that I have been reading some of Mark Manson’s works, he had a great article recently on understanding values, I’ll put a link at the bottom. In it he asks you to look at your values, question them, change them if needed and know yourself – at least that was my takeaway.
I believe it applies to this topic because having a greater sense of self and your own values will only help in knowing where to put your energy. As the article states, and I agree, we often think we value things that we don’t and this can also lead to jealously.
An example of something that has made me jealous recently is those that have freedom around work. Specifically those that can work tons of hours and/or make a high income. Not working a steady job right now has pushed me to an edge of stress and unhappiness.
So I have felt jealous of all those that make enough money to afford childcare for their kids and work, or those who have spouses that make enough money so they can stay home and still do activities and vacations and everything or those that have no responsibilities…. yada yada yada, spiral, spiral, spiral and snap!
See the negative thoughts that can happen – when I focus, I remind myself that I made the choice to leave my position, rightly or wrongly and I need to make the best of it. I made the choice to put my family and my integrity first. I remind myself that other’s successes (higher salary/good hours) are because they have earned those rewards, maybe they work really long hours, they probably worked harder at school, they make their choices based on their values. I remind myself that support systems can be built and that mine is pretty good. My choices were made on the values I have or had at the time and that it was the best I could do. That things will work out, it just might take time. That what others have is based on their values and mine do not need to be the same.
I have a good life, I have good people in my life, wonderful kids and if I want my life to be different I can change it. Ok, well maybe I’m not going to be running any sub 3 hour marathons but I can be the best version of me with my values.
A thought, don’t hate the smartest person in the room, or the one with most talent or the luckiest, think of this – love people are ‘more’ than you. Those are the people you can learn the most from, good or bad. I have this crazy notion that being close to awesomeness will rub off on me. Kinda like in junior high when all my friends were 2-3 inches taller and beautiful, little squat me thought I was pretty and cool by association.
So that’s my starter thoughts on jealousy – I didn’t want to dive into the jealously in a relationship topic this round but another time. Instead I hope this helps in learning how to refocus your thinking when feeling jealous and remember that it’s ok to be jealous, just don’t let it stop you from being the best version of yourself.
Link to Mark Manson post below –