February 23, 2014

Is Jealousy a Healthy Emotion? 4 Examples of Normal & Positive Jealousy.


Jealousy is an emotion that’s so normal, it’s been observed in infants as young as five months old.

I’ve written more than once about how to deal with jealousy—about how to turn it into a more positive experience for all involved—but what about the flip-side of the coin?

What about when jealousy is healthy?

So I’ve come up with a small list to help us remember why we feel certain emotions, even those that aren’t preferable—like jealousy.

1. Jealousy helps us realize what we want so that we can go after it.

One personal example for me of late is the way that I reacted when I saw so many new baby announcements pop up on my Facebook newsfeed.

I knew that we were preparing ourselves for wanting another child, but it truly was the unexpected jealousy that crept into my heart when I saw things like he’s going to be a big brother and we’re excited to announce that so-and-so is going to be a big sister—because I recognized that I wanted this for my own daughter.

And, honestly, this jealous reaction helped me understand myself more deeply—so that I can figure out my own next step in actualizing my most desired life goals.

2. Jealousy can serve as a warning.

Please do read this article on ways to get in touch with negative jealousy in relationships and how to cope and then, having said that, let’s look at when jealousy can help to serve as a warning sign that something is off in our relationships.

If we’re continually feeling jealous toward one person: a lover or a friend, for example, there’s a lack of trust. Now, this lack of trust can absolutely be our own fault and something that’s not deserved on our partner’s or friend’s end at all. Still, jealousy can sometimes be a red flag waving in front of our faces of a situation that doesn’t feel right.

3. Jealousy can make us better partners.

The occasional stirrings of jealousy that creep into a long-term romantic relationship are not always harmful.

When we notice our husband’s attractive after-effects from exercise, for instance, we are possibly inspired to work out more ourselves, or maybe even exercise together, which is both solidifying to the relationship and great for our own health.

More, a tiny bit of infrequent jealousy can encourage us to be attentive to our partner’s needs.

4. Jealousy can propel our achievements.

Admittedly, I’m not the type of person who gets jealous about someone else’s gorgeous house or fancy car. Regardless, those random moments when we see something that we want and don’t have can sometimes be just the fuel we need continue working hard on our own pathways towards achievement and prosperity. Or, it can actually help us do some soul searching and figure out that we might not have that extra bedroom in our home, but we have a pretty darn happy family filling up the rooms we do have.

While jealousy isn’t always a comfortable or welcome emotion, it is a natural one and one that shouldn’t be ignored. (Because ignoring our feelings never helps.)

So when we contemplate these moments in our lives when a typically “bad” emotion can actually be a “good” one, we also become more aware of when our emotions aren’t productive, either for us or for the people we love.

And perhaps the most positive aspect of an emotion such as jealousy is that it offers an awkward enough sensation to  encourage us to dig a little deeper and learn more about ourselves and the world around us—which, in my book, is always welcome.

“Jealous, adj. Unduly concerned about the preservation of that which can be lost only if not worth keeping.” ~ Ambrose Bierce

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Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photo: elephant journal archives

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