I’m an aspiring therapist and I help clients make sense of their emotions. In the process, I have to make sense of my own emotions too, for me to be in the right mindset to help them collaboratively.
Jealousy is often an overwhelming sense of negative feeling that makes some of us feel like we are worth little, even if it’s for a fleeting moment. Often, many of us feel some pangs of jealousy occasionally, but excessive amounts of jealousy can interfere with our daily functioning.
Jealousy and envy are often used interchangeably but it’s possible that both are completely distinct emotions with slightly different meanings. For example, jealousy is often primed as a fear where someone else may take something that is yours (or something that could have theoretically been yours).
Comparatively, envy is often primed as a desire for us to have something that currently belongs to someone else. Together, both jealousy and envy can create despair, anger, and a readiness for change.
Identifying Jealousy and Using it for Good
On the upside, some jealousy and envy might push us towards a goal-oriented focus, but again, too much of either is not particularly helpful, especially if it causes us to feel small inside.
If you’re worried about being excessively jealous, consider whether or not you are feeling anger, resentment, and difficulty in accepting the success of others. Perhaps you are feeling mad that someone else has something that you feel that you deserve.
It happens, and it’s okay to feel this way.
Jealousy can be a surprisingly normal thing but if you’re stuck in the dark recesses of jealousy, you can try many things, such as:
- Exploring your past and looking for patterns
- Separating your past struggles/triumphs from your current ones
- Generating a goal-oriented focus to get what you want
- Using your imagination to come up with more realistic and plausible scenarios
While you do these things, it can be challenging as you’re often reliving the pieces of your past that lead up to this point. Operating at your own pace is really emphasized here.
From your past, you might be able to generate patterns surrounding past instances of jealousy. For example, perhaps you’re jealous each time a person (who represents an idealized version of you) is able to secure the promotion that you’ve always wanted.
There may be some sort of pattern that is just out of reach, and perhaps writing things down might reduce the noise inside your head. Once you’ve established a pattern, you can reflect on how this pattern reflects your current circumstance, and create a reasonable pathway to go from your old mindset to your current one.
In this theoretical example, perhaps the future plan is to not work harder, but to work “smarter”, where you’ll spend more time networking and socializing for a certain number of hours each week to increase your chances for a promotion.
It’s not going to be easy, but there are some things that are within your reach, such as refining your coping strategies, your ongoing social supports, and so much more.
It’s okay to feel a little jealous, and it’s encouraged even, especially if it helps reinvigorate your goal orientation. Just remember that jealousy and envy are not always the same and to not let jealousy define you — as hard as it is.
As Sean Covey once said,
“Isn’t it kind of silly to think that tearing someone else down builds you up?”
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