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It is often described as the “Green-Eyed Monster.”
Jealousy is an emotion that drains my energy, leaving me depleted emotionally and physically. When jealousy fills my heart, I see myself as a victim. I am powerless and stuck in a “poor me” mentality.
I am convinced that life is not fair. I know that I will never be as successful as the person that sparks my envy.
My book is not a best seller. My body is not as fit and trim as that woman I saw on the trail. I don’t have the money to go on an exotic trip. I hear about a party that I was not invited to and I feel left out. The list goes on and on. The more self-pity I allow into my mind and heart, the darker my world becomes.
Much of my jealousy seems to stem from a rational view of the facts in my life. It is obvious to me that there are many people with whom I can be jealous. My envy makes perfect sense, does it not?
What if I could challenge this belief and turn it on its head? What lessons might be available to me if I looked at jealousy with a fresh pair of eyes?
When I was a student in my life coaching program, I was struck by the comments of another participant in the program. We were exploring the concept of jealousy and she offered this viewpoint. Here is what she said: “When I am jealous of somebody, I know this is a clue pointing me to something I am longing for.”
With this perspective, envy becomes an invitation to learn more about myself, rather than plunging me into the pit of darkness that jealousy usually creates.
Here is what I am learning to do when jealousy shows up in my life.
1. I get curious.
Is there a clue to what I long for? I may realize that there are aspects of that person’s accomplishments that do not attract my interest. However, as I dig deeper, I may realize I want the freedom that they have in life because of their successful business or career. Perhaps I want to be an author. When I notice my envy of their latest book release, I can see it as an invitation to look at what is necessary for me to start writing a book. If writing a book didn’t interest me, I probably would not feel the stab of jealousy because they wrote a book. In this way, paying attention helps me get clear on what I want.
2. I celebrate the person for their success.
This is not something that comes easily for me. It is counterintuitive and I need to intentionally make a choice to reach out and affirm them for their accomplishment. I may take a friend for a coffee or send a card of congratulations. As I share in their joy, my mood lifts, and I feel love and connection, instead of fear and envy.
3. I practice gratitude.
I remind myself of all I have to be thankful for. This could be the ordinary and the extraordinary. I have a gratitude journal where I jot down what I am grateful for. When I am focused on the abundance in my life, there is no room for envy.
4. I am generous and look for ways to give to others.
I look for opportunities to shower those around me with compliments and congratulations. Doing this from my heart brings joy to them and me. When I am on the lookout for ways to show love, the spectre of envy stays away. Giving may include bringing flowers to my 85-year-old aunt who lives with chronic pain or sitting with my 93-year-old mother-in-law and hearing stories of her childhood. The love and connection that result are a gift to me, as well as them.
5. I am willing to be humble and learn from others.
Rather than languishing in a place of envy, I reach out to those I admire. I ask them for their “secret to success.” How did they maintain their devotion to building their business? What supports did they have as they wrote their book or marketed their new product? How do they stay so healthy and strong into their 70s? I find most people are delighted to share their stories and I am encouraged by the support they offer to me.
6. I find a trusted friend or a life coach with whom to share my “Jealousy Journey.”
When jealousy shoots its arrows into my heart, I notice that shame comes along. I get upset and angry at myself. I thought I was over being jealous! Not so…in fact, jealousy seems to be even more ready to trigger me now that I am learning to reframe its presence in my life. Having a person who can witness me as I tell my story is a way of “shining the light of vulnerability” on my shame. I learned this from the work of Brené Brown, and am forever grateful for the reminder that “shame cannot live in the light of vulnerability.” As my words tumble out and my friend lovingly accepts me, there is no room for envy or shame. We talk about what I want next and I am restored to a place of calm and joy.
I am excited to continue on my journey to view jealousy as a clue to deepen my self-awareness and my knowledge of what I am longing for. I trust that you are intrigued by this possibility in your own life. Together we can tame the power of jealousy in our lives and move forward with courage and power.
I would love to hear your personal experiences in the comments below.