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When you think about ‘good’ emotions, which ones immediately spring to mind? Perhaps happiness, peacefulness, joy, trust, wonder, love, kindness or excitement, but I bet jealousy wasn’t the first thing you thought of.
Jealousy is the feeling or emotion you get when you desperately want something that someone else has. Jealousy makes me uncomfortable because I feel angry and powerless and the thoughts I have towards the other person are not at all pretty. You know, wishing a horrible, painful death on them. Well perhaps not as bad as that, but you get the picture. Jealousy can make a person bitter if it’s not dealt with and for this reason, we are taught from childhood that jealousy is a ‘bad’ emotion. In fact, jealousy is considered one of the seven deadly sins.
Yet while jealousy can be an extremely powerful and difficult emotion to deal with, it is a really helpful emotion that can teach you much about yourself. Jealousy pinpoints something that’s missing in your life that’s important to the real you. This is because jealousy is intimately linked to your values and your superpower – that unique gift you have to touch the lives of others. Jealousy shows us what our deep desires are. After all, we don’t feel jealous of someone who has something we don’t care about.
I remember years ago when my children were small and we barely enough money to get by on, yet I desperately longed to travel and see other places. I was insanely jealous and angry of those who lived in ‘exotic’ places or who were able to have holidays anywhere I couldn’t go. I felt full of guilt and a bad person for wishing for a different life because I dearly loved my children and wouldn’t have been without them.
It was only when I read Julia Cameron’s book The Artist’s Way, that I understood my jealousy was highlighting deep needs to explore other places and be challenged, that were hard wired within me and made me who I was. Julia Cameron writes:
Jealousy is a map … [It] is always a mask for fear: fear that we aren’t able to get what we want; frustration that somebody else seems to be getting what is rightfully ours even if we are too frightened to reach for it. At its root, jealousy is a stingy emotion. It doesn’t allow for … abundance and multiplicity.”
Julia suggested identifying:
In other words, when any hint of jealousy snakes itself into your mind, stop beating yourself up and feeling guilty because of what you feel and start listening to it. If you’re unhappy with some aspect of your life, a good way to find a way forwards is to pay attention to the people you are jealous of. Be precise. Ask yourself the following questions:
When you ask these questions, don’t settle for the obvious answer. Dig deeper. For example, you might not have a partner and you feel jealous of the couples around you when you’re eating in a restaurant on your own. The obvious answer to ‘what’s missing’ is you don’t gave a partner. Well obviously you can’t whistle one of those up overnight, but by digging deeper, you might identify your true needs such as companionship, someone to have holidays with or someone who shares your interests and supports you. These answers give you a lot more to work with and will enable you to take action. Now you can start addressing those specific needs perhaps by joining a group of people who are interested in something you’re care about or by asking a friend who likes the same sort of holidays you do if they’re interested in having a holiday with you.
Maybe you’re jealous of another person’s success in some area. Pay close attention to what it is about their success you’re jealous of. Your jealousy will be highlighting something you need to work towards achieving in your own life.
I’ve learned that when I pay attention to my jealousy and start taking small steps towards having that need met, a pathway always opens up even when meeting my need had seemed an impossibility when I was wallowing in jealousy. You have to move your focus past what’s missing onto what you can do to meet your needs.
So how do you deal with jealousy? Does it tie you up in knots or are you able to use it to make changes in your life and meet your deepest needs.
I’d love you to leave a comment below in the comments section – about some of the things you’re jealous of, how you deal with jealousy and what you’ve learned from it?