Do you ever find yourself envious of another’s good fortune?
Are you jealous of your partner’s ex-lover?
Is there a colleague who’s getting more recognition than you? Do you often feel you don’t measure up or get your due?
Though you may want to be happy for others, sometimes you just can’t.
In my book on Emotional Freedom, I discuss how toxic jealousy can be and how to heal it. In my psychotherapy work with patients, I’ve seen it destroy relationships. Jealousy and envy may be hard to admit because they’re the opposite if good will. They’re politically incorrect emotions for “spiritual” people to have.
It’s difficult to admit—to ourselves or others—that we don’t want the best for others because their assets or accomplishments make us feel small. Or to acknowledge the depth of our self-doubt about our own value. Nevertheless, to be emotionally free, we must do both. Repeatedly, I’ve seen how denying these feelings can make my patients passive-aggressively hostile: They unconsciously respond by putting others down to defend against a shaky self-image.
Jealousy is a sign of low self-esteem. It can become a chronic cause of suffering if you don’t address it.
How jealousy or envious are you? Find out by taking the following quiz. Having these feelings, even a little, can work against you. But try to be honest without judging yourself. We all possess these tendencies to a varying extent at different times. Be brave: identify areas where you need to grow. Using the techniques I’ll suggest, you’ll soon progress as you solidify self-esteem.
Jealousy and Envy Quiz: How Jealous Or Envious Am I?
- Do I sometimes get satisfaction from putting people down?
- Would I feel relieved if a colleague didn’t get promoted, even though I may like him or her?
- Do I often think that others are better off than me?
- Do I resent people who seem to have everything?
- Do I feel diminished by someone’s beauty, brains, or accomplishments?
- Am I afraid of people trying to outdo me?
- Am I threatened by my mate’s past?
- Am I bent out of shape when my mate looks at someone else?
- Do I see my mate’s friends as rivals for my attention or affection?
Answering “yes” to six or more questions indicates a significant amount of jealousy or envy. 3-5 “yeses,” a moderate amount. 1-2 “yeses,” a small amount. Zero “yeses,” probably very little (or, you’re kidding yourself).
Be aware that even one affirmative response gives you an opportunity to clear these emotions.
The key to shifting the negativity of jealousy and envy is to identify when they surface, then replace them with what’s positive. How? Using the techniques below try to wish the best for someone. This can be really tough. Your ego isn’t going to be thrilled about the idea; it’s too riddled with insecurity. Override it by coming from a higher place—something you may resist, but attempt it anyways. Against your instincts though this exercise may seem, it’ll take jealousy by surprise so you can overcome it.
How To Release Jealousy and Envy
Phase 1. Express your feelings.
Share them with someone safe. No editing. Let it all out. Burst the boil. This emotional expression must happen to ready you for the next phase of release.
Phase 2. Practice these strategies to transform jealousy:
- Root for a rival’s happiness. Fat chance, you might think. But doing this changes the pattern of negativity. Begin with an attitude change, though it may take a while to fully mean it. Say to yourself, “I want my rival to be happy.” This points you in a more positive direction. Then, as you get more comfortable with this attitude, try going further. Tell someone you envy, “You’re doing a fantastic job.” In addition, pray for the person–and not just that a higher power removes their countless faults! Get it right. Pray for his or her happiness and prosperity. This constructive intent will gather a momentum of its own.
- Put the names or photos of people you’re jealous of next to a bouquet of flowers, or, if you have them, statues of Buddha or Quan Yin. Consider these people teachers who can help you transcend negativity. There won’t be any shortage of instructors!
- Learn from a rival’s positive points. Get your mind off of what you perceive you lack and towards self-improvement. Yoko Ono says, “Transform jealousy to admiration, and what you admire will become part of your life,” an inspiring credo to live by
Practicing the above actions builds self-esteem by giving you the confidence and satisfaction of becoming a bigger person. It reinforces the cosmic law that when you support others and wish them well, it helps you too.
Realizing that jealousy and envy cause suffering gives you the motivation to get past them.
Adapted from Dr. Judith Orloff’s NY Times bestseller, “Emotional Freedom: Liberate Yourself From Negative Emotions and Transform Your Life”
Author: Judith Orloff
Editor: Renée Picard