Friday, September 18, 2015

5 Things to Remember When You're Feeling Jealous

One of my favorite subjects in college was psychology.

I like studying the human mind and understanding the “why” of the “what” that we think, say, and do.

Human emotions are directly tied to our psychological well-being and one of the emotions I find rather interesting is jealousy.

Jealousy is an emotion that is driven by the fear of inadequacy.

Jealousy is not a new emotion; it has been around for quite the while. In fact, it dates back to the first children of the first family – Cain and Abel.  The story is a simple one. Cain works as a crop farmer and Abel as a shepherd; Abel decides to give God the firstborn of his flock and their fat portions while Cain gives more like the leftovers of the land's produce. Consequently, God finds favor in Abel and regards his offering more. Cain notices this and jealousy ensues. And then, he takes that jealousy one step further by killing his brother.

So, what makes jealousy such an interesting emotion for me to explore?

The power it yields when a person succumbs to it.

I’m human. With humanity comes a side order of raw, unfiltered emotions and feelings. And consequently, jealousy is no stranger to me. I’ve been jealous of different people at different points in my life for different reasons. When I look back on my life, I notice the times where I handled jealousy improperly. I notice the times when I allowed jealousy to negatively affect how I thought of people and treated them. I notice the times when I enabled jealousy to grow within my soul and embitter my spirit. I notice the times when I deluded myself into thinking I wasn’t jealous when in actuality, I surely was.

As I add in years, my desire to grow in self-control and mastery has significantly risen. One of the emotions I have a vested interest in managing is jealousy.

It has such a history of destruction. From Cain and Abel to Brutus and Julius Caesar to Mary Jo and Amy Fischer (don’t know the story of the “Long Island Lolita? You might want to Google it. ) And for such a potentially volatile and deadly emotion, it’s important to stay one – ok let’s be real, TEN – steps ahead to win the battle over it. From studying jealousy, there are 5 things I’ve become aware of about the emotion. And from that awareness I’ve been able to get a good grip - at least I’d like to think so - on the emotion that has a way of making even the strongest of men (and women) crumble. Of course, I’m sharing those 5 things for your reading pleasure.

1.       Jealousy is a normal human emotion. It’s scary to admit that you get jealous. It’s scary to admit that you’re capable of jealousy. It’s scary to admit that you have insecurities and those insecurities can flare up as jealousy when triggered by another person’s words, actions, or lifestyle. The truth, however, is that people get jealous every single day. It can be jealousy that someone has attained more money, power, or materialism than you have. It can be jealousy that your pretty co-worker always gets more attention and praise at work than you do. It can be jealousy that the guy or gal you like doesn’t feel the same way about you but desires your best friend instead (ouch). It can be jealousy that a sibling seems smarter or more talented than you and your parents clearly favor him/her more. It can be jealousy that your neighbors just had their 5th child while you and your spouse have been trying for years and still haven’t had one. There are a host of things that inspire jealousy. For an emotion that has been around since the beginning of time, it’s almost comical how difficult many of us find it to admit we get jealous. The truth is that no one is above jealousy. Not you, not me, and not cousin Lucy. Once you understand that, you won’t be so taken aback or rattled when jealous feelings arise.

2.       Undisciplined jealousy destroys relationships. I’ve had two friendships that have ended over jealousy; in one case it was my jealous feelings that did the damage and in the second case, the other gal takes the credit. Undisciplined jealousy is an ugly thing. It makes a person act small and petty – been there, done that. It makes a person overly critical of others and negative in character – been there, done that. Undisciplined jealousy makes it extremely hard to have compassionate, loving, and fulfilling relationships with others. Undisciplined jealousy brings out the worst in people.

3.       Jealousy is your ego issue, not the other person’s. It’s your emotion. It’s your reaction to that person or situation. It’s not “their fault”. Granted, there are times when folks actively work to make others jealous but at the end of the day, it is our individual sensitivities that determine the jealousy we deal with in our lives. Jealous is much less about him/her and much more about you.

4.    Jealousy must be acknowledged to be overcome. It’s that whole “acceptance is the first step of healing” mantra all over again. Redundant, yes, but ever so true. You can’t heal what you won’t admit. When you name your struggle or temptation by name, you strip off some of its power over you. You weaken it. So, “call a spade a spade” and put jealousy out in the open. Admit it to yourself. Admit it to those you’re close to. If you’ve really got some cojones, admit it to the person you’re jealous of. Admitting you are jealous of someone affords you the freedom to take the first step towards self-mastery of your jealous feelings. If it only it felt as easy to do it as it does to write about doing it…yikes.

5.     Jealousy always shows up to teach a lesson. I believe everything in life happens to teach us a lesson – whether we care to learn it or not – and jealousy is no exception. When jealousy shows up in your life, the questions to ask are, “Why am I feeling jealous?” “What is it about this person that makes me feel insecure or threatened?” “How can I become comfortable with the fact that there will always be someone that has something I want but don’t have yet or might never have?” The good thing about jealousy is that it shows you exactly what your fears are, where your sense of self-worth lies and the areas of emotional/spiritual growth you need to develop. Jealousy is one of life’s great teachers; not necessarily one of the “fun” teachers, but a teacher nonetheless :)

And now we've come to the end of the list - 5 things to remember about jealousy. More specifically, 5 things to remember when you’re feeling jealous. I recommend meditating on them anytime you find yourself wrapped in the web of jealousy. They’re great reminders. These 5 truths undoubtedly help me manage jealous feelings when they start to bubble up in my spirit.

That is of course, when I choose to remember them :)

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  1. i have not read the post yet, just wanted to drop a comment first.
    you may not remember me but its beeen sooo long and i have missed your blog

    the blog that introduced me to the blogosphere. i have a lot of catching up to do. let me read the post and come back with a comment.

    1. Hey Nachi!! Thanks for continuing to be a loyal reader of the blog -- I appreciate it more than you'll understand.

      p.s. yes, I do remember you love :)