Harmful or helpful emotions?

green eye

Jealousy and Envy.

The Green-Eyed Monster.

One of the seven deadly sins, no less.

Until recently, I did not know the difference between being jealous and envious. In my mind these two were one and the same and interchangeable emotions. When I feel pangs of these emotions, all I know is, is that I feel rubbish. I pride myself on the more positive elements of my personality, like being kind, reliable (although not in the time-keeping sense) a good listener and a world-class hugger. When I feel these things, I feel good and wholesome and like I am OK in this world. When I feel jealousy and envy, I feel nasty, stressed and unkind and that just does not sit well with the other parts of my psyche.

So in the name of not becoming a permanent modern-day Jekyll and Hyde, and being more at peace with this element of my personality, I researched these emotions, learned the difference between them, why we have them and the purposes that they serve.

According to http://www.psychologytoday.com

  • Envy is when we lack a desired attribute enjoyed by another, whereas jealousy is when something we have is threatened by a third person.
  • And yet envy and jealousy are not the same emotions. Envy, as unpleasant as it can be, usually doesn’t contain a sense of betrayal and resultant outrage, for example. Jealousy need not contain an acute sense of inferiority (if the rival is not enviable).

OK, those definitions help me make sense of the difference between the two emotions.

So, I now understand that I am envious of Mrs Hinch and Stacey Solomon with their beautiful homes, wardrobes, alpacas, clothing ranges and ALL THAT FREE STUFF THAT THEY GET!! I want to be sent beautiful parcels of make-up. I want to spend my time lovingly turning my home into a heaven-sent haven of white, natural wood and shiny sinks.

With envy, you must look behind the emotion to actually unpick what it is that is causing you to feel that way.

Do I really want alpacas? Do I want to spend my days obliged to document most of my days on Instagram? Of course, I don’t. I don’t want to do all the hard work that they do, to get their ‘free stuff’. But- I do want to improve my home. I do want to change up my make-up and my wardrobe. I do want to work for myself and be hugely successful.

By looking beyond, the negative feelings surrounding the initial pangs of envy, I can flip them into something more positive. Motivation.

I have more than just an element of control over how I style myself, my home and how much I achieve through running my own business. If there are things that I desire, then it is up to me to make changes and work towards gaining them.

No-one walked up to Mrs Hinch and Stacey and plonked their lives and opportunities in front of them- they have worked hard and made sacrifices to get to where they are today- and that’s what I need to do too. Envy is a wake-up call to address what it is I feel that I am lacking and to make my own steps to fill that hole.

In the same way, jealousy can be used as a self-awareness prompt too.

Jealousy occurs when something we have is threatened by a third-person, or party.

When my sister met the love of her life, for example, I was jealous. My relationship with her was threatened by her new relationship. I was losing my sister’s time and love to someone else. Jealousy causes feelings of insecurity and feelings of unworthiness. And those feelings are hard to bear.

If someone at work gets an opportunity and a role that I wanted, then my self-esteem and confidence are threatened. The knee-jerk reaction to that is to tell myself that I am not good enough and that I am an imposter in my field and clearly not as good as I think I am.

Again, these initial thoughts and feelings need to be flipped and managed to become useful rather than self-destructive and relationship damaging. It’s not easy, but it is do-able.

The jealousy that I felt when my sister found her life partner would have been better managed had I sought reassurance and voiced my worries. Had I done that, love and reassurance would have come at me like a tsunami-making me feel instantly reassured.

Recently, the work situation did play out. In the past, a job rejection would have sent me into a woeful, self-absorbed, malaise-but not this time. I had about ten minutes of feeling silly for applying and feeling sorry for myself, and then I took a breath and had a think.

Being rejected hadn’t taken away a single skill, ability or experience that I had highlighted and proved in my application. Being told ‘No’ had not actually changed anything about me at all. I was still whole. I was still me. I was still good enough for anything that I set my mind to. It’s just that the opportunity that I went for was not for me at that moment in time. I reached out for feedback and received friendly and constructive guidance about possible next steps and was told that I held many of the skills and attributes that were required-but not all of them. And that’s OK. They were absolutely right-I wasn’t quite ready for the role, but that does not mean that I will never be ready. The power is in my hands to seek the missing skills and experience and re-apply for similar roles if and when I want to.

And there was the learning for me. When the twisted pangs of envy and jealousy strike, voice these feelings, seek reassurance and understanding and ask questions of yourself and others. It feels so much better and healthier than silently seething and harbouring negativity.

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