Jealousy and envy are often spoken of as the same emotion. Actually they are different ends of a spectrum. Jealousy occurs when we want to keep what we have. We become jealous when we are afraid of losing something in our life we value. Envy is when we want something we don’t have. Envy is based on the desire to possess something someone else has but we do not. These emotions are often referred to as shadow emotions, expressing the darker side of our humanity.
When we are feeling jealous or envious, it doesn’t feel good. Experiencing and staying in the space of jealousy and envy can very quickly lead to despair. Based in fear, these emotions leave us feeling hopeless and powerless. The more we find ourselves enmeshed in these emotions, the more they can build creating a downward spiral that is hard to climb out of.
Once we begin to feel jealousy or envy it is easy for these emotions to take over our focus. When we are drawn into the shadow emotions of jealousy and envy we become unproductive and increasingly are surrounded by more and more negativity, hatred and resentment. Since jealousy and love cannot coexist in the same space focusing on these shadow emotions actually repels love and happiness from our life.
Feeling shadow emotions like jealousy and envy is normal and a part of the human experience. Learning to recognize that we are feeling the emotions of jealousy and envy is what allows us to have the human emotional experience. However, it is important not to get stuck in these shadow emotions and drawn into the darker side of being human. By being aware of our feelings of jealousy and envy we can take the following action steps to move through these emotions and on to emotions that feel more pleasurable.
In this day and age jealousy and envy are amplified by what we see on the internet. It is normal for people to share only the positive and filter out the negative when sharing on social media sites in particular. Everything we see and much of what we hear has already been filtered several times, be it positive or negative, before we see or hear it. Particularly through something as impersonal as social media it is almost impossible to know the entire reality of the situation. While your friend’s vacation may have appeared to have been a dream vacation based on the posted pictures, what you didn’t see was the fight the couple had that caused them not to speak for two days of the trip, or when the cab took them all around the city charging them double for a destination they could have easily walked to, etc. Sometimes a person’s personal agenda behind painting a negative picture can create a perception that is just as faulty and incomplete. Ask yourself, ‘What about this situation am I really jealous of?’ Do you know for a fact that your perception is accurate, or is your perception based on an interpretation of only the filtered information that was made available to you. It is possible that the very thing or situation you are jealous or envious of doesn’t actually exist – or does exist but not in the way it has been portrayed.
Gratitude is one of the most powerful tools to help us shift quickly into a more positive emotional state. Take a break for five minutes and mentally, verbally or in a gratitude journal express all the things you can be grateful for. Specifically identify all the things you can think of that you can appreciate. Include everything from the people in your life, what you do, where you live, the color of the wall, the smell of the air, and that you didn’t burn the toast today! Include everything from the mission critical items to the mundane. Express gratitude for the lessons you have learned. Recognize that another person’s success does not take away from your success. If anything it provides you with more opportunities to learn and grow. Make gratitude a new daily spiritual practice. Rather than spending time focusing on what you do not have, focus on what you do have. Gratitude and lack cannot coexist. The more you focus on what you have the feelings of lack, fueled by jealousy and envy, dissipate supporting you in shifting your energy and focus.
When you start to feel emotions that are not aligned with your happiness, notice the shift in your emotional state. Identify when you are feeling jealousy, envy and acknowledge your emotions. Understand that it is natural to feel jealousy and envy sometimes. Don’t beat yourself up for how you feel. Instead of denying your emotions and creating resistance, acknowledge your feelings so that you can address them and move forward. If you are unsure of what your feelings are keep in mind that jealousy and envy often show themselves through other emotions like hatred and resentment. These emotions can lead to participating in negative and malicious gossip, the delivery of negative non-constructive criticism and rude and disrespectful behavior towards others. Identify what feeling state you are in.
Self-love and self-esteem are closely tied with the emotions of jealousy and envy. This is because the emotions guide us to expose our deepest fears about being unworthy, not good enough and not being lovable. These shadow emotions seek to find the cracks in your armor and work their way in creating self-doubt and self-hatred. At the same time you are resenting the person you are jealous of, you are resenting yourself for not being worthy enough not to be in this situation. It is an endless cycle you must break. Be sure to practice self-love with yourself as well as others. Get rid of comparison thinking. It is self-abusive. We are all unique. Recognize your value and give yourself a pat on the back for being the best you can be. Take time regularly to give yourself a pep talk by recognizing how great you are at being you!
What is Your Story?
Time for some self-analysis; ask yourself, ‘What about this situation do I fear I might lose or fear I am never going to have? What hurtful belief about yourself has you feeling that this thought is an absolute truth that you have no power to change? What meaning are you giving to these feelings?’ For example, you may be fearful of losing someone’s love or respect. The belief you may be holding on to is that without their love and respect you have nothing. The meaning you then apply to the emotion is that you are nothing. Use these powerful emotions of jealousy and envy as guide posts directing you to see what areas you need to focus on improving within your life. Instead of thinking, ‘I want what he has,’ shift your perspective to, ‘I will have what he is having.’ Let these emotions motivate you to make needed changes to increase your happiness.
If you feel that these emotions have become too powerful to overcome on your own, enlist the support of a trusted friend or a professional counselor. By talking with someone who understands the importance of moving away from these shadow emotions, rather than indulging them you are able to shine a light on this shadow aspect of yourself. When you are able to bring light to anything that has been hiding in the shadows, it will immediately lose its strength and power. Ask your confidant to help you perform your reality check and self-analysis to your perspective and move to a more positive state of being.
Be of Service
Performing acts of service is another powerful tool available to us to create an immediate shift in feeling and perspective. Performing acts of service forces you to focus outside of yourself. You will find this action will quickly move you out of the feelings of jealousy and envy and into a more pleasurable state. When you give your time and resources, you are participating in a positive action that will push away the taking mentality that comes with the lack consciousness that jealousy and envy fuel. Try to give without expectation of something in return. When you give, you create the energetic space for you to also receive. Everything in life is part of a cycle of energy so by being of service to someone you are giving, making space for you to receive blessings in return.