“I’m so happy for you,” you say, really trying to mean it too. But inside you feel anything but happy. Whether it’s a sweet new toy or a sexy new beau, we’ve all been jealous of a friend, colleague or family member at one time or another.
Sooner or later you’re going to encounter people who are wealthier, have cooler, better paying jobs, are more talented, more famous, have a bigger house, a better car, have partners flinging themselves at them without lifting a finger, have thighs that don’t touch and never did, and on it goes. Some people it would seem have a perfect life—even though we rationally know the odds are against it.
Most of us first experienced jealousy as children via a playmate with more toys or a contentious sibling rivalry. And most parents have heard all the usual protests about the other kids with better ‘stuff’ and the impossibly unfair treatment we’ve received compared to our fellow housemates. As adults, we’ve got no one to whine to because it’s just not cool to whine! We’re taught to be grateful and thankful and pretend we don’t feel jealous when we do.
It’s normal to feel envious occasionally but over time it can really rob us of our highest potential.
Focusing on this negative emotion puts your head in a place of loss or even mourning. While in this mindset you are less able to problem solve and certainly less able to find and enjoy the happiness that is rightfully yours!
With that in mind, here are a few tough love ideas that helped me to conquer my jealousy. And I know a thing or two about it—I grew up as a poor kid in a trust fund community. But I got over it! Sure—I occasionally play the lottery because that’s what middle-aged people with little hope of making a billion dollars do—but Powerball dreams aside, I’m feeling very little jealousy these days. When I congratulate you, I mean it!
STEP ONE: ADMIT TO YOURSELF THAT YOU ARE JEALOUS.
You’re jealous. So what. Wahhhhhh! Feel better? Of course you don’t, because being jealous sucks.
STEP TWO: ASK YOURSELF WHAT YOU FEEL.
I know this sounds shrinky but bear with me. You have to do the work people! Jealousy is a feeling that creates a feeling. It’s like the movie Inception—there’s a feeling within the feeling and most of the time it comes down to fear. The fear of not being good enough, lack of confidence, fear of failure or something similar. If you had confidence, if you could not fail, if you believed all things were possible for you, would you still feel jealous? For me, the answer was no.
STEP THREE: ASK YOURSELF IF HAVING WHATEVER IT IS YOU ARE JEALOUS OF WILL MAKE YOU A LESS JEALOUS PERSON.
A lot of people spend their time keeping up with the Joneses. But those people are rarely satisfied. Do you want to live your life feeling jealous of everyone else or happy and content with yourself? If you are jealous of another person, how does being jealous of that person help or benefit you in any way? It doesn’t. See step two and reexamine your feelings.
STEP FOUR: FOCUS ON WHAT’S RIGHT IN YOUR LIFE.
Letting jealousy consume you will keep you from doing or feeling anything good! Focus on the people who love and uplift you. Reduce or eliminate people who make you feel bad about yourself. If reading your Facebook timeline looks like an endless stream of good times and achievements that you aren’t part of, take a step back to support yourself.
STEP FIVE: GIVE YOUR TIME TO OTHERS.
People say it a lot because it works. Getting the focus off yourself can give you purpose and make you grateful in actuality, not just in theory. Work the neighborhood food shelf, tutor kids trying to improve their math or reading level, or teach a community class in your area of expertise (Of course you have one!).
STEP SIX: INVEST IN YOURSELF.
Take time to hone your craft, whatever it may be. By improving your skills, you’ll be improving your confidence as well. Now is the time to learn something new for work or for pleasure. With nearly endless resources on the internet, whatever your dream skill is, there is someone willing to teach it to you. It’s a rare week that I don’t use some sort of internet tutorial!
STEP SEVEN: ACKNOWLEDGE AND MOVE ON.
The next time you’re feeling jealous, just notice that you are and move on with your day. I promise you that over time, these feelings will diminish.
Remember, any time you share yourself with the rest of the world the spark that is you reignites.
Awesome. Wonderful. You!
*Porter’s Mansion background via Wikipedia Commons author Jason Ballard