March 14, 2023

Jealousy: Is it a Sign of Self-Loathing?


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We all get jealous at times.

Getting jealous every now and then (situations and environments can spark temporary jealousy) is different from permanently existing in a realm of jealousy. Equally importantly: feeling jealous and acting on it are two different things.

I have never really wanted what someone else has. I don’t know if it’s ego or self-preservation or the desire to be unique or apathy or a deep level of contentment. Sure, I am invested in my friendships and relationships, so if I have ever felt sidelined, I would communicate my feelings—we all have a degree of possessiveness.

I get a twinge of jealousy, which implies I care. For me, a little jealousy in relationships has strengthened important bonds. It also motivates people to engage in behaviors that uphold important relationships and reminds them to never take people for granted.

Naturally, it boggles my mind when I see people seething with jealousy and coveting what others have—be it a partner, success, looks, branded goods, book deals, and so on. Siblings putting each other down because of the weird competitiveness that jealousy breeds. People ending friendships or relationships because one person got a promotion or a new client or an opportunity, which they believed they deserved. Isn’t that ego? I have also seen jealousy fuel destructive behavior. A friend’s husband once threatened another man who was friendly with his wife in the gym. Rage. Suspicion. Humiliation. Anger. Verbal violence. Threat. It was a scary phase in their lives.

The more closely I look at jealous people, the more I realize that it has nothing to do with age, gender, race, or other demographic metrics. Unaddressed insecurity is a detrimental issue, and if not tackled early, it turns into a disease called jealousy. Psychology gurus tell us that the root cause of jealousy might be low self-esteem, fear of abandonment, codependency, mental health issues like anxiety or depression, or even insecurities. If you have a partner who doesn’t show you the mirror or a friend who doesn’t correct you…or a sibling who won’t call you out when you are being unreasonable, jealousy grows branches and leaves because you live in arrogant ignorance.

I’ve noticed that some people are more prone to jealousy than others. It’s okay to be inspired by others. It’s normal to be in awe and admiration. Healthy envy that gets you out of funk and motivates you to dream big. That’s acceptable. It’s absolutely alright to reach out and ask for guidance. I have asked published authors and Ayurveda practitioners and communication professionals and business owners for their time and wisdom at every stage of my career. But there is a way to approach other people’s successes and experiences.

Is jealousy another form of self-loathing? Some people are lazy; they don’t want to do the work but would like to snatch what someone else has. Some don’t have what it takes—be it skills or aptitude—and they can’t handle the truth about themselves. What do they do? They get jealous! Then there are people who use their race and gender to establish privilege. Meaning they believe they deserve success if their competitor is of a different gender, race, or religion because they consider themselves superior. Then there is the category of people who have a dishonest persona for the world to see —for example, they might call themselves author or filmmaker or healer or vegan yogi or teetotaler, but they have never spoken at an event or published an essay or treated a single patient or will eat mutton biryani at home and wash it with whiskey when others aren’t looking. They get jealous when the universe infiltrates their ecosystem with authentic folks who live their truth and don’t lie about who they are to the world or in their bio.

2023 for me is the year to unapologetically detoxify my life. March is the month of women’s empowerment and history, and I am sharing some of that empowerment mojo with myself too.

I consider an overbearing jealous friend or colleague or family member toxic to be around. Here’s what I mean: If a friend or family member or coworker or peer is jealous of you that means you can’t be transparent and honest with them. You will always walk around on eggshells. You will never share your good days or bad days with them freely. You will constantly need to use filters and show up inauthentically. Your mind will wonder if they are plotting something against you or meeting with you or speaking with you to get some information. Every interaction or engagement will send you into a spiral and ignite the need to protect yourself. That is so much hard work, stress, and negativity for no reason!

“The jealous are troublesome to others, but a torment to themselves.” ~ William Penn


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