Jealousy is not a coveted character trait. There's the jealous girl in the movies who we all love to hate. Or the jealous friend who stopped talking to us when we got the job she wanted. How about the jealous classmate who always seems to be prying in our business and constantly trying to one-up us in class. No one wants to be that girl (or guy). Jealous people are bitter, resentful, and plain old pathetic. And in a perfect world, that is NOT us. We like to think of ourselves as pretty good people. So to consider the possibility that we may harbor jealous feelings, even some of the time, doesn't sit well with us. It creates what is known as cognitive dissonance. That's the discomfort we feel when we hold two opposing ideas. One of the ways we deal with the discomfort is to explain it away, or suppress it. In fact, we may not even be consciously aware of our own jealous feelings and behaviors. But jealousy doesn't go away just because we ignore it. Instead it grows, and shows itself in ugly, mean-spirited ways. Of course, feeling jealous does not necessarily mean we are bad people. The key is to use jealous feelings to make ourselves better by dealing with it directly. And to help with this process, I came up with five good qualities you probably have if you catch yourself feeling jealous.
1. Jealous people are sensitive. Essentially, jealousy is the feeling that someone has something you want, but can't seem to get. There is a feeling of lack, and it creates the sense that life has not been fair to you. This makes you more sensitive to situations in which you are treated unfairly. In fact, you notice things people don't. You may even find yourself seeking out proof of personal injustices just to support your belief that things are not fair to you. No, none of this feels good. But if you look a little closer, your sensitivity can be a valuable asset. Just as you are sensitive to injustices, you can also be sensitive to those moments when things go your way, when you get blessings you didn't necessarily deserve, or when someone makes a kind gesture on your behalf. With your keen eye, you have the ability to notice things that make you feel grateful rather than hateful.
2. Jealous people are creative. Jealous people are known for blowing single incidents out of proportion and making sweeping generalizations. It's called catastrophizing. Let's say your boss didn't notice all the hard work you put into a project, and instead raved about your co-worker's project whom you know didn't work half as hard as you. But instead of brushing it off, you're feeling a whole lot of jealous, and before you know it, the "I can't believe (s)he didn't notice me" and "Why did (s)he get noticed" turns into "No one ever notices me" and "Everyone else always gets noticed but me." The one incident tends to take on a larger than life quality, and this is how many jealous people cope with feeling fed up. Sometimes it feels easier to wallow in the idea that life is against us because it's too painful to hope for the best and get let down. But few of us realize how much creativity (and not to mention energy) it takes to make our experiences fit into a negative worldview. Just like an expert weaver, we have to tease, pick, and parcel out all the half-truths and inaccurate or unhelpful thoughts we've gathered from negative experiences all while ignoring the positive ones, just to create a worldview we think is easier to manage. It's so much work— no wonder why we feel drained. But just as we can create a negative worldview based upon negative experiences, we can create a positive worldview based upon positive ones. Since so many of our circumstances are outside of our control anyway, why not focus on the positive experiences more often. It will make you feel much happier and way less tired.
3. Jealous people are tenacious. You may spend your time focusing on the successes of others because you can't get past the unfairness of it all. But you're smart, and already know the effort you're expending on those you deem more privileged isn't logical; yet you feel stuck, and like a bad case of magical thinking, there's the sense that mulling over it will change things somehow. While it isn't healthy to be consumed with the lives of others (although social media makes it so darn easy), the intensity with which you do it, is actually a misuse of your tenacious spirit. I mean, imagine what you can accomplish if you refocused that energy inward? How much more would your gifts, talents, and creativity flourish?
4. Jealous people are analytical. Not only do you catch yourself focusing too much on the successes of others, but you make comparisons with a fine-tooth comb to explain why things haven't worked out. Thoughts like "Oh she had more opportunity to practice than I did, " or "I had three jobs and couldn't get anything done but he didn't have to work," or "She had help, I didn't," probably sound really familiar. We do this to make ourselves feel better, yet many of us fail to realize the critical thinking skills we are using. This is because unresolved insecurities causes us to let our emotions override our intellect and ability to think thoughts that are way more helpful, accurate, and healthy. If we made good use of our intellect and used those analytical skills to compensate for emotional weaknesses, it can really go a long way to resolving those "chips on the shoulder" (is that a term?). It may be difficult to do at first, but remember you have tenacity, *wink*.
5. Jealous people are strong. I know it doesn't always feel like it, but the truth is most people who find themselves feeling jealous have been in a struggle, a struggle to overcome long-standing insecurities and self-doubt that was never conquered. But the very fact that you are in a struggle, means you are trying to deal with it. And when we deal with feelings of jealousy instead of trying to pretend it isn't there, jealousy will begin to lose it's power. Then we can realize the strength we had along along, but didn't know it. ♥