I wrote my first article on jealousy back in August.
It started out like this:
“I’m a Scorpio.
If a title including the word jealousy and a first sentence stating this little factoid mean nothing to you then let me explain further: I’m prone to jealousy.
I’ve thought about writing a blog like this many, many times before, but never have, and for one simple reason—I don’t consider myself to be a jealous person anymore.”
Hopefully you’ve read this post already or you take the time to click on the red-highlighted link above to read it now, because we won’t be re-hashing these tried-and-true jealousy squashing tips.
Instead, we’ll be diving into how to deal with jealousy’s ugly twin sister: envy.
Envy and Jealousy were raised side-by-side in a tiny cottage in the middle of the woods.
Soon after, barely toddling, the competitive girls wandered across the cottage threshold and out into the unguarded wilderness.
The woods were expansive and provided plenty of shelter, entertainment, food and opportunity for both twin sisters. However, Jealousy decided to focus her attentions on what others were doing within the wooded world she inhabited rather than focusing on herself.
So Jealousy quickly grew both tired and lonely—exhausting as it was to live outside of herself so fully. She rapidly grew unhappy and unproductive, since all of her efforts were so desperately concentrated on the productivity around her.
Whereas Envy, on the other hand—while, equally, placing vastly more importance than necessary on comparing herself to those she admired—made sure to also differentiate herself fully from her twin.
Because Jealousy lived, yes, in the woods, but also inside the heart.
Jealousy was, like many who have positive and negative qualities that are conjoined not unlike she and her sister inside the womb, passionate. She was willful and stubborn and, ironically, quite bolstered by pride and ego—these half-siblings of rival emotions.
Yet Envy was not passionate like her sister.
She, certainly, was obsessive and intense, but passion lacks appropriate description because Envy lived inside the mind.
Envy was indeed logical—even if appearances masked this most thoroughly.
Envy was bolstered, not by emotion, but by tumultuous, irrational thoughts.
In short, Envy, unlike Jealousy, was not rooted to the pine-covered forest walkways, but she preferred climbing the trees’ branches and swinging from limb to limb, coming down to the shaded, earthen floor as little as she could stand.
So envy, you see, is not jealousy. These two are intrinsically related, but not interchangeable, as often misunderstood to be.
Because jealousy lives within our hearts—an intense longing and need to avoid rejection and loss—at all costs—is what inspires jealousy. But envy makes us think on what it is we want—but don’t yet have, so, therefore, cannot lose.
And when we want something—need something—so much, we can become excited by another’s unfortunate loss of it, if it is already possessed.
Envy is, if one can compare such worrisomely ill-fated sisters, more troublesome.
Because it thrives and provides nourishment on the bereavement of others.
We can never be happy when we are envious. Envy brings many things into our lives, but joy will never be on this list.
Cutting to the chase; here are three ways to stop jealousy’s twin envy:
1. Practice yoga.
The physical practice of yoga will, over time do several things to you mentally, physically and psychically: it will encourage you to inhabit your own space in your own time.
When we inhabit ourselves fully we are totally unable to compare ourselves to outside influence.
This takes time and practice—conjuring a real yoga practice will absolutely require your patience, dedication and full acceptance of unavoidable failures.
There’s, unfortunately, no perfect way for me to cue you on your beginning. It takes you, placing one foot in front of the other, to walk inside of a studio or to turn on your laptop and press play—and then move and breathe.
But I promise this, if we show up on our mats on a regular basis, we will change—and that change moves us further and further away from envy.
2. Practice kindness.
This, too, takes patience because no matter how much we displace our envious nature, we do not have the ability to drive it out from others.
We will be treated unkindly, and it takes fortitude, tenacity and courage to be kind in the face of hate.
But we must, if we seek the loss of envy.
Practice smiling, for no reason. Practice extending your services, especially when they won’t be rewarded or reciprocated. Practice distance, too.
Because when others treat us improperly, it’s important to consider that they are fighting their own battles of envy; ones that don’t really involve us at all—we just become unwilling victims of their own sadness and contempt.
3. Practice self-love.
If we begin to practice yoga on a sticky mat, we will unavoidably encounter self-acceptance. It’s a given (but it does take time—sometimes a lot of it).
If we practice kindness, we will inadvertently begin practicing kindness with ourselves as well.
Basically, we’re setting ourselves up for self-love.
Loving ourselves, much like loving someone separate from us, doesn’t ask for denial or perfection. It asks for the exact opposite.
I often equate self-love with loving a small child.
Typically, we speak to children softly, compassionately and patiently—we don’t expect or even want perfection from a child. We know she’ll make mistakes and we’re there to offer comfort, not anger, when they happen.
If we begin to speak to ourselves like we would a beloved child, there is no room left for critique.
One glossy afternoon, Envy was gripping a branch high, high above her head. Her arm was extended fully and her little fingers grasped the bark completely when—snap!—she fell and fell and fell…into a deep, dark hole.
She picked the dried, brown leaves from her hair.
She fumed and pouted and stomped the black dirt from her black Mary Jane shoes.
And then something happened.
For the first time, she realized that she had sunk so low—so wholly—that she wasn’t sure if she could even see something to reach for. So, like most small girls would in such a dire predicament, she began to cry.
And Envy cried so much that the hole only grew deeper and deeper and deeper…until she sunk so far that she could no longer see anything but blackness.
(Her black Mary Janes disappeared and her hands had vanished too.)
Meanwhile, Jealousy was unequivocally feeling sorry for herself.
She sat and sulked underneath the shade of her favorite, lush-topped tree, contemplating life without her sister.
Just then, she heard a terrible pop! followed by a thud! followed by stomp stomp stomp!
She got up, brushed the fragrant leaves from her lap and didn’t walk far when she heard something she didn’t recognize. So new was the sound, she didn’t know how to describe it.
Jealousy peered into a deep, black hole and, although afraid she would fall, she did something more courageous than she’d ever done in her entire life, including walking beyond that cottage threshold: she jumped.
And she fell.
And fell, until thud!
Upon returning quickly to standing—adrenaline raging, hair standing on end behind her neck—Jealousy immediately felt that something was not right.
Cautiously, gingerly, she reached out her hand and touched something soft and wet and cold—it was Envy’s once-angry, rose-pink cheek.
Chilled blood rushed through Jealousy’s terrified heart and Envy did not respond to Jealousy’s violent shakes.
So inspired by terror and by love, Jealousy—without thinking—clutched Envy’s still body and raced—without seeing—straight ahead.
She ran and she fought and she struggled with creatures of her own imagination (since no vision provided her with knowledge). And then smack!—Jealousy’s head banged into something hard.
And then it opened.
Wondrously, the sisters had stumbled back across their cottage threshold—though now it was overgrown with ghastly vines and woven with dust and caked with crusted mud.
But there was something…welcoming; something…familiar; something…she didn’t quite know what.
Without warning, Jealousy was immediately aware that this was none other than their cottage of birth because there, in the corner, was Love.
And Love was all that Jealousy and Envy had ever honestly wanted or longed for or sought or desired or, alternately, despised and loathed within each other or any other.
Love barely moved.
She peacefully stirred a wooden spoon around a large pot hoisted over a blazing flame. She seemed neither surprised nor unaware of her daughters’ presence.
Jealousy, though, struck with fear for the loss of Envy and for what it would entail, was unconsciously calmed and quieted through Love’s gentle demeanor and supple movements to seat both girls before Love’s glowing fire.
Love ladled something rich and delicious into two alabaster bowls and she, in a way that only mothers can, fed Jealousy, and Envy too, and, miraculously, Jealousy saw her sister’s throat twitch as she swallowed.
Next her eyelids opened and shut, opened and shut, and her whole body flickered with life and something that Jealousy couldn’t place a word upon, because she hadn’t witnessed it with her memory.
But it was verve. It was joy.
It was everything that they had searched for out in the woods and anything other than what they had found.
Love, watching with contentment and ease and patience, contained her own story for another glowing fire because she knew—as Love often does—that the sun needs the moon, that the light needs the dark and that ugliness is only improper when compared with a different form of beauty.
After all, when her babies had waddled out into the wild, so many years before, Love had never doubted their return—or the necessity of their departure.
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Editor: Bryonie Wise
Photo: elephant archives