We’ve all experienced it, we’ve all been at the receiving end of it, we’ve all seen it in action… it’s the ‘green eyed monster’… jealousy.
According to the Miriam-Webster dictionary the definition of “Jealous” is:
- a: intolerant of rivalry or unfaithfulness b : disposed to suspect rivalry or unfaithfulness
- hostile toward a rival or one believed to enjoy an advantage
- vigilant in guarding a possession
When does jealousy show up?
Many people associate jealousy with romantic relationships. For example, one may feel jealous if someone is flirting with their partner, and that feeling is intensified if they suspect their partner may find that person attractive.
However, jealousy appears in many different areas of our lives – it often presents as a feeling that you ‘just don’t like’ someone. You may feel irritated by someone at work who got the promotion or recognition that you wanted; or you may notice that you are focusing on some negative qualities, or events from the past, about a friend who may have unexpectedly come into money/love/fortune/etc.
So what does jealousy say about you?
Jealousy is a reflection of your own anxiety. Furthermore, the things in your life that you feel most insecure about, are exactly the things you feel jealous of.
For example, if you are feeling insecure or uneasy about the stability of your relationship, you may feel very jealous of someone flirting with your partner. However, if you feel confident and secure in your relationship, and the connection you and your partner have with one another, it’s unlikely that you will experience jealousy even if someone else does flirt with them.
If you feel insecure about your physical appearance, you may feel jealous of a friend who you consider physically attractive. You may catch yourself being quite critical of how they look.
Or if you feel embarrassed about your financial situation, you may feel jealousy towards those who are financially comfortable. And you may tend to question their integrity, or attack other things like their personality.
And if you lack confidence in your ability at work, you may feel jealous of those who get recognized or promoted. You might find yourself trying to downplay their achievements, or undermine their work.
Jealousy is like a big, bright, spot-light on everything you are self conscious about; or a big red arrow pointing to the parts of your life that you are most unhappy with.
First of all, jealousy will drain our energy with it’s negativity. It’s also self-propelling, and keeps growing, as negative emotions love to feed themselves!
It can create resentment, destroy relationships, and keep you from enjoying life and the people around you. The end result is that it can be exhausting and, most importantly, it keeps you stuck.
Try something new instead
Consider viewing jealousy as a sign that you’re due to make some changes in your life, it’s an indicator that a goal or value that is being neglected. It’s time to change how you react to jealousy so you can learn from it, instead of being beaten down by it. Our emotions exist to help us make decisions… but it’s up to us to respond to them in a way that helps instead of hinders.
Therefore, if you notice that you’re feeling jealous of another person I suggest you stop and ask yourself:
- What exactly do I feel jealous of?
- How are things for me in that particular area, in my life?
- How do I want things to be different for me? (don’t focus on the other person… it isn’t about them)
- How do I start taking steps in that direction?
And yes.. asking these questions may reveal things that you have been trying to avoid. For example, you may realize that it is time to go back to school / change careers / end the relationship / start making an effort… etc, etc, etc. Which seems like some rather scary, and stressful stuff.
However, time is going to go by anyways. So you can either continue to avoid thinking about uncomfortable things, and stay stuck… OR accept the fact that how things are right now doesn’t work for you anymore, chose to be uncomfortable, and start making changes to get unstuck.
Therefore, you really only have two options: In a year from now you can be right where you are today – stuck and jealous. OR you can be in a different place, one where you feel more secure, more confident, and more content with your life. It’s up to you.
Joy Sereda is an ACT therapist, a Registered Clinical Counsellor, a Registered Social Worker, and the Clinical Director of the Summit Counselling Group. You can read more about Joy, and all of the Summit counsellors on their bio pages.
Summit Counselling Group is made up of six, professional, and compassionate Registered Clinical Counsellors. We work with individuals, couples, adults, children, adolescents, and families from our West Broadway office located in beautiful Vancouver, B.C.