Why You Should Listen to Your Jealousy

Why You Should Listen to Your Jealousy

As a blogger, I read a lot of other blogs. I’m frequently amused, often inspired and occasionally humbled by what I read. And sometimes I’ll read a post and I’ll think, “Ninety Eight comments on this? I can write better than this! This person’s success should be mine, all mine!” What I won’t think is what I’m actually feeling. I won’t think to myself, “I’m jealous of this person. I’m envious of their success.”

It’s so hard to admit to ourselves the we feel any of those ugly emotions like jealousy. But refusing to admit what we’re feeling means we can’t hear what the feelings are trying to tell us. As a master of the petty, small, ugly feelings, I’m working on learning to recognize when I’m feeling jealousy or envy and interpreting what those feelings are telling me.

Name the Feeling

When I look at the headshot of the attractive 25-year old next to the impressive bio underneath the article I should have written, goddamnit, I don’t typically think to myself anything like, “This makes me feel insecure and jealous.” No, my literal gut reaction is “Entitled skinny bitch. Probably you got this gig because your dad is rich. I hate you.” Martha Beck calls this monkey mind because we share this attractive quality with our baboon cousins. It’s in our very DNA to compare ourselves to others.

We all do it, then, so it helps to own up to it and embrace the shadow emotion when we feel it. Then we can figure out what it’s trying to tell us. So when I recognize that my thoughts are really jealous ones, it helps to stop and say, “What I’m really feeling is jealousy. I’m jealous of this person. Why?”

How to Find Out What Your Jealousy is Telling You

  1. Turn the focus on yourself. Your jealous feelings are trying to serve you. They want to  tell you something that needs to change in you to make you happier. The answer to that is inside you.
  2. Ask yourself what exactly is bothering you about this person. Is it her success? Is it because people like her more than they like you? Is it because she’s so thin? Is she really popular? The possibilities (believe me, I know) are endless.
  3. What emptiness is that exposing in your life? If this is a big question, pull out your trusty journal and hash this one out. The answer probably isn’t as simple as “She’s so successful. I wish I was successful too.” If somebody is eliciting a strong reaction from you, the chances are pretty good that it’s because there’s some pretty raw stuff behind it. Pull that shit out into the daylight.
  4. What are you willing to do about this? If you’ve uncovered an issue that needs fixing, is there something you might want to do to take you one step closer to the person you want to be? And notice I didn’t ask you to figure out what you could do or what you should do or what you might do. Let’s just take one step today. What are you willing to do today that could take you closer to the you that you want to be? And please remember that watching Netflix in bed while eating ice cream directly from the carton is always a valid response. Rest and restoration to the soul can sometimes what we need the most.

And Finally

Once when I was comparing myself unfavorably to another person, a friend of mine told me, “Don’t compare your inside to someone else’s outside.” I think that’s pretty wise. It never hurts to remember that the person you’re feeling jealous of just might be jealous of you.

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20 Comments

  1. October 21, 2015 / 2:24 pm

    Love this piece. I have to practice slowing down and not being jealous too.

    • Katy
      October 21, 2015 / 2:26 pm

      Judy – I have opportunities to practice this every single day. 🙂 thanks for stopping by.

  2. October 22, 2015 / 7:34 pm

    I love the concept of looking deeper inside myself, to see why what’s really bugging me is *really* bugging me.
    Asking myself, “Yes, but what does *that* (what they did, what they said, how they looked) MEAN to me?” is usually an enlightening question.
    If I find the message I am resisting, I usually have my answer.
    And sometimes, it’s as simple as “They remind me of….____________” (fill in your own respective blank).
    It’s usually a place where I got “emotionally sunburned”. It’s still tender and a bit inflamed. Thus, it’s easier to get hurt.

    • Katy
      October 22, 2015 / 7:58 pm

      That’s so wise and beautiful Susan. Well put.

  3. October 22, 2015 / 7:55 pm

    this is all so true – I have been working at owning my thoughts and attitudes and self esteem and learning that I don’t have to compare myself to others or envy them. The idea of “what emptiness” is it exposing is such a valid issue and one we need to keep an eye on – great post!

    • Katy
      October 22, 2015 / 8:04 pm

      Comparing is so dangerous isn’t it. That’s something I’m always trying to remember – if I’m envying someone, it’s always because I need to be looking at myself.

  4. October 22, 2015 / 10:52 pm

    You’re so right Katy.

    Jealously, judgement, anger – I’m getting much better at looking inside myself when I feel these emotions toward other people.

    It’s natural for us to compare to others but let’s face it, there will always be someone better off, and there will always be someone worse off.

    What your friend said is spot on – even people who look ideal on the outside can feel tortured inside.

  5. October 23, 2015 / 6:41 am

    This is such a wonderful piece and if we are honest with ourselves we know it holds our own truths. Comparison is definitely the thief of joy but it’s human nature to feel jealous. What that jealousy is telling us should catapult us into some deep thinking and small, baby-step actions toward stepping away from the jealousy. Yup. What we see on people’s outsides shouldn’t make our insides crawl with green envy. Let’s find our own happy, peaceful place. We’re all finding our way. Thanks, Katy.

    • Katy
      October 23, 2015 / 9:14 am

      That is so true and so beautifully put, Cathy. Comparison is definitely the thief of joy.

  6. October 23, 2015 / 8:20 am

    What a great piece, Katy. Jealousy is something I’m working on and your piece spoke to me. Thank you!

    • Katy
      October 23, 2015 / 9:11 am

      It’s been really gratifying to hear that other people have the same struggles. I’ve been so glad to read everybody’s comments that they struggle with the same feelings. I know I so often feel like I’m the only one 🙂

  7. October 25, 2015 / 11:11 am

    All very good tips for sure. Jealousy is a tough emotion to deal with if you don’t quickly get control of it. Love the pointers!

  8. October 26, 2015 / 3:56 am

    This really caught my attention. We all feel these feelings even when we know we “shouldn’t”. I found point number three fascinating. I will think more on this issue, what emptiness is it exposing in my own life? And also that there are raw issues behind it. Thank you for sharing this.

  9. October 27, 2015 / 9:42 am

    I love the insight, “Don’t compare your outside to someone else’s inside.” That is such a brilliant observation. In the blogging world, it’s so easy to compare ourselves to each other. Yet it’s also as you point out an opportunity to reflect on ourselves and what we might like to change in our lives. It’s so much more productive to redirect these feelings into goal setting. Thanks so very much for sharing your perspective!

    • Katy
      October 27, 2015 / 9:45 am

      Thanks for commenting Lauren. I like the idea of redirecting into goal setting. That’s a great way to look at things.

  10. October 30, 2015 / 7:26 am

    I like that “Don’t compare your inside to someone else’s outside.” Reminds me of a time I got jealous of this beautiful woman at work. I was walking behind her thinking negative thoughts about her and then she turned around and was so genuinely nice to me that I gave myself the figurative slap across the face to stop thinking that way. Hard sometimes, but when I do my co-worker’s face pops in my mind.

  11. October 30, 2015 / 11:48 am

    Jealousy is a tough nut to crack and, in my experience, it’s often of something that isn’t anywhere near as wonderful as I perceive it to be. Social media makes it even worse; there’s actually studies out there that suggest social media can cause depression because we only see the best of people and come to think our lives are so much less, that we’re lacking.
    In the past, I’ve also been shocked to learn that someone is jealous of me. Seriously?!? But again, they see something that really isn’t as perfect as they perceive it to be. (And it really isn’t!! LOL)
    “Don’t compare your inside to someone else’s outside” really is the best way to put it. (#BlogShareLearn sent me!)

    • Katy
      October 30, 2015 / 11:52 am

      Thanks for stopping by! You definitely have to take all the social media posts with a grain of salt don’t you? I try to remember that I do it too – I post my vacation photos and not a selfie of my face right now with a raging post vacay cold. 🙂

  12. August 28, 2016 / 1:42 pm

    Yes – our jealous reactions are actually quite valuable insights into our own issues and much cheaper than therapy!!!!!!

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