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It was the summer between fifth and sixth grade.
Myself, along with 100 other students from around the district, had been invited to a “high potential theatre camp.”
I guess it meant the music teacher recommended me because of my aptitude for singing and acting. The camp was two weeks long, and I recall how much I enjoyed learning from the instructor and learning new musical songs—“Food Glorious Food” from “Oliver,” but also familiar favorites we know and love.
The big finale was the production of “sleeping Beauty.” Of course, like most of the kids attending, we all wanted a spotlight role, and my secret wish was the role of Aurora—Sleeping Beauty. Lo and behold, to my utter disappointment, I did not get the role of sleeping beauty, the fairies, or even the cute woodland animals. I was handed a non-singing, non-speaking Lady-in-waiting role.
I was devastated. My friend, however, received the part of Fauna the fairy, and I was beyond envious she got a “good part.”
My dad was home that afternoon, as he was every day, in the basement lifting weights after his daily run. I remember feeling particularly downhearted and dejected. My dad showed me empathy, consoled me, and expressed he was sorry I didn’t get the part I wanted, but it would turn out okay.
He was right. My mom made me a lovely “lady-in-waiting” long, aqua-blue flowered skirt with a matching silky, pointy hat, with the chiffon scarf draped off the tip of the cone. When it came to the part at the Aurora festival, I swooped and danced across the stage to the choreographed dance we learned, with my chiffon-scarf hat blowing in the breeze (special effect I’d created in my head). I did feel princess-like and magical in the that moment. This experience was one of the many lessons I would learn about comparison and jealousy. I also learned early on, I was not cut out for the theater world as an actor and would resort to enjoying theatre as a spectator.
It takes a significant amount of energy, going inward, healing patterns, and finally coming to the realization there is no need to compare ourselves to others nor feel jealous of other people. I was fairly young with this exposure to jealousy lurking in the background. At such a young age, we’re not equipped to understand, process, or have the level of introspection to glean the insight. I had several other incidents with this particular friend growing up and the feeling jealous toward her.
What the jealousy actually stemmed from was her ability to put herself in the spotlight when I was really just a wallflower. Even though I wanted to be extroverted and put myself out there, my introverted, shy personality was not going to allow me to have a star role in a play or in life, for that matter, when I was more of the behind-the-scenes girl (literally and figuratively). Perhaps the jealousy was elicited from the attention she received or the continuous compliments for a job well-done that I wasn’t receiving. I only knew to play “small” and not take up too much space.
Jealousy occurs as a result of someone owning or embodying something or a quality we want. We may also feel jealous if we haven’t achieved a kind of success we wish for ourselves but have not been able to cultivate. Research has identified many root causes of extreme jealousy, including low self-esteem, high neuroticism, and feeling possessive of others, particularly romantic partners. Fear of abandonment is another key factor when it comes to feeling jealous or exhibiting jealous behavior. Jealousy can present within families, such as sibling jealousy, mother-daughter jealousy, or father-son jealousy as well as close friends who may be jealous of accomplishments, qualities we embody, or life experiences/situations.
Healing jealousy and/or jealous tendencies takes insight and introspection to understand our own motivation behind the jealous feelings or behaviors.
There are steps we can take to healing that part of our self that resorts to jealousy.
1. Tracing it back to the source. If we feel that jealous twinge, the body is speaking and asking to identify where the jealousy is stemming from. More often than not, jealousy is often linked to our past as a pattern is repeating of a time when we didn’t receive what we wanted. If we feel jealous, it’s our psyche rearing its head in an effort to feel validated or special. Whether our jealousy stems from insecurity, fear, or past relationship patterns, it is essential to understand the root cause to shed light on the current situation.
2. Voicing concerns to the person, whether it’s a friend, partner, or spouse. Sometimes the jealousy is warranted if the person is doing something purposeful to be spiteful. If that’s the case there is a whole other type of dynamic going on. In most cases, it’s our unhealed wounding of being left or our partner choosing someone “better” than us, which causes the triggering or jealousy to occur. Friendship jealousy is tricky to deal with as the friend is not genuinely happy and shares in our successes because of their jealous feelings toward us. If we are the one feeling jealous, we may want to ask ourselves if it is a quality they embody; however, instead of being jealous, we can find ways to cultivate that characteristic in ourselves.
3. Reframing the situation or person. Perhaps we need to ask ourselves what we admire about the person and if there are steps we can take to embody those particular qualities we admire. Being realistic and honest with ourselves with the perceived situation or person is essential. Sometimes we feel jealousy toward someone for who they are or what they represent; however, the “thing” we may think we want is not part of our repertoire or in our realm of possibility. This isn’t to say we cannot aspire to goals, but each of us have our own unique life path.
4. Treat our individual life as a journey versus a race. People are co-passengers or co-actors on the stage of life, and a person showing up in our life may provide a valuable lesson for the future. The more we get used to enjoying the process and appreciating the people and experiences we have with them, the less jealousy we feel as we find common bonds. Choose to feel uplifted and inspired by their success. It really is true that we’re on an individual path within the collective. Anxiety, feeling unworthy, or defeated come from the internal dialogue we tell ourselves that we aren’t as far as we thought. We can’t predict all the pitfalls and challenges that show up, nor how the timing plays out. We can only show up every day, do our best, and take one small step, reminding ourselves that staying in our own lane is the name of the game.
5. Heal the past. Healing trauma and negative experience will vastly improve the way in which we look at ourselves and others we come into contact with. Perhaps we’ve been severely wounded and we look at others as if their life seems “easier” and can possibly feel jealous for our hardships when they seem to have little to none. Healing our wounds provides us with an alternative viewpoint that we don’t know other people’s full backgrounds or stories. Our hardships transformed us into individuals who emulate empathy, compassion, and understanding. Jealousy begins to fall by the wayside as we realize the past was a stepping stone to the future.
6. Focus on connecting with people. When approaching situations, always ask what we can learn from the interaction. Instead of a superiority complex, we may benefit from the collaboration. People may possess degrees, experiences, and share knowledge and expertise; however, it’s the true connection with connections that opens the heart.
7. Practice gratitude. Learning to appreciate how much we’ve accomplished in our lives, asking ourselves “who am I today?” “What qualities do I embody that I didn’t five, 10 years ago?” “Do I show up in my life with integrity and authenticity?” When we get into a daily habit of giving gratitude for what we currently have (material possessions or emotional states of being), we send out higher vibrations, which boomerang back to us positively, and the gratitude bank expands. The more we practice gratitude, greed takes a back seat.
8. Embrace our own gifts, talents, and uniqueness. We’re all here with a specific purpose. Some of us took the round-about way to figure out what we’re here to do. Some of us had talents as children that went dormant and later re-emerged. We start out on one career path and change to another as we change and grow. Perhaps we feel jealous when it seems other people have it all “figured out.” If we stop to consider how unique and special we all are, and we each have a unique contribution to the world, it’s rather profound. When we show up living our joy and finding ways to be of service, we are highlighting our talents and gifts, whether we’re in the limelight or sharing a nugget of knowledge with a stranger in a coffee shop.
When I reflect upon my life and the various people I felt jealousy toward, under the surface there was something I felt was missing within me or that I desired to have. If we befriend the green-eyed monster of jealousy, it serves as a catalyst for further self-development and growth to better ourselves. When we become solid in our self-identity, jealous dissipates as we gain courage for embracing new opportunities to help shape and mold us into what our soul is aligned with.
We also realize that not every experience is meant to stay in our lives. We get glimpses of ourselves within these experiences that highlight a hidden talent we possess; however, instead of comparing ourselves to the person we think is better or more talented than us, we can just be in the moment of the realization we have the privilege of being in that particular moment. We are allowed to take the magic moment with us in the future.
Perhaps the whole point of me not getting the part of Sleeping Beauty is I needed to wake up to my own light on my own, to discover my strength, my skills and talents from within. It only took half of my life for this revelation. (Humble bow.)