Envy. One of the Seven Deadly Sins. “Thou Shall not Covet,” says The Ten Commandments. Greek and Roman mythology is fraught with examples of jealous gods/goddesses. Scholars have contemplated the topic, psychologists have researched it. Clearly jealousy/envy is a common, yet problematic aspect of human nature. We all feel it at times, and it’s no fun at all.
Teenagers can be especially prone to falling under the spell of the disgusting “Green Eyed Monster.” I know I did. I felt surrounded by people who had more money, better abilities, more friends, happier families; people who were prettier, smarter, or more accomplished than I was. I constantly compared myself to others and always seemed to fall short. Thankfully, I outgrew my insecurity and learned to avoid comparing myself to others. However, I would be a liar if I said that little monster never bit me anymore. I’m only human after all. But now I take that feeling as a call for some personal reflection. Here are a few tips I’ve come up with for how to deal with jealousy:
1. Put the situation in perspective. Don’t judge a man until you walk a mile in his shoes, as they say. Sometimes what appears to be enviable, really isn’t. People are like icebergs–we only see a tiny part of their being and usually have no clue what is hidden beneath the surface. Everyone struggles in some way. So remember, while it may seem that someone has all of the things you want, chances are there is more to the story. You may have something they long for as well.
2. Be Grateful. Gratitude is all the rage lately, and for good reason. It helps. Instead of focusing on what you lack, think about what you have! Do you wish you were thinner? Give thanks for a healthy body. Do you wish you had more money? Give thanks for food on the table. Do you wish you had a better job? Give thanks for being employed. You get the idea. I promise you will feel happier if you focus on the blessings.
3. Reflect and let it guide you. Your envy is actually a good thing. It’s giving you important information about yourself that you need to be aware of and address. Ask yourself why you feel jealous– what is it that you truly long for? What is stopping you from having it? Reflection helps you understand what you want or, in some cases, what you need. Rather than feel sorry for yourself, explore the vision of what you crave, so you can let go of what doesn’t really matter or do what is needed to make something possible.
4. Take action. Once you understand what you want or need, you can take action to make it a reality. Of course there are always going to be things you can’t change, but sometimes the necessary action is about moving toward acceptance.
5. Build connection. If there is a specific individual who triggers your jealousy, that may be a call to get to know that person better. It may seem counterintuitive, but when we connect on a personal level, we are able to deconstruct any illusions we’ve created about a person. It also helps us gain clearer understanding of ourselves (and you may just end up with a really cool new friend who inspires you to be your best self). Do your best to feel happy for others. What goes around comes around. Celebrating someone else calls what you want to you, while negativity serves only to repel what you desire.
I hope these tips help you manage the inevitable feelings of jealousy that are bound to come up. Remember, all of your feelings are there for a reason. They serve as messengers and guides, so pay attention and make them work for you rather than against you.
With Love & Compassion,
Adina Arden Cooper
I'm a lover, a guide, a supportive companion. A storyteller, an artist, an ally and an advocate. I help individuals thrive and communities come together through counseling, coaching, and community building. I believe that shared humanity is a powerful strength and that our stories connect us in beautiful and sacred ways. As I stumble, skip, or soar my way through this life, I invite you to join me on the journey. Likewise, I'm honored to travel with you. In witnessing one another, we find meaning.