Jealousy is one of the most toxic emotions we humans come across. It’s natural to feel it but really unhealthy if we let it over power our conscious being, like any other negative emotion – be it anger, disgust or fear.
But what is most fascinating is that jealousy is NOT a primary emotion. It means, if we go back to the time of hunters and gatherers and think about their lifestyle, they had nothing to lose as they used to hunt, eat, sleep and mate. That is what the life was about. But as humans evolved, society also evolved. Facilities also evolved and so did our lifestyle.
From that era, till now, the definition of personal happiness shifted from internal to external, and hence, causing humans to feel jealous. It’s deeply rooted in fear and insecurities. If we are not brought up feeling “good enough”, then this is where the work needs to be done. Jealousy just lay seeds of resentment, discomfort, distress and bitterness.
Some natural causes of jealousy can be:
Comparison is a strategy that parents tend to practise out of conditioning, but they don’t realise how toxic it can become for their relationship with their child and child’s future life. If you, as a child grew up seeing yourself being compared with other mates or siblings, and being criticised for the same, it’s natural for the feeling of jealousy to occur with the thought that another sibling/mate is more loved and appreciated than I am. This thought turns into a core-belief, and our inner voice. As a result, as you grow up, you may always look something in other person that you feel you don’t have it in you – be it a colleague’s promotion, your partner’s friend of opposite sex, a friend going on a trip and you can’t, etc.
How to deal?
Whenever you are going through the emotion of jealousy, observe that feeling and notice the thought behind it. Write it down. Keep writing all negative thoughts (it’s okay even if you feel conflicted or feel angry during the process) until you come down to your core belief. Once you identify the core belief, accept it and treat it.
For e.g.: I am jealous of my cousin getting admission into the college I wanted to go to.
In situations of jealousy caused by “narrative of comparison” – try to reflect and identify if there is anything that could have been done in terms of reality? Is it my cousin’s fault that I did not get in? Did I do my best?
Asking these questions will help you reflect on your jealous thought with respect to reality and eventually lead to acceptance, but what’s needed is that you accept and witness the emotion to let it pass rather than supress it and make you crude.
One cannot deny the unacceptance of humans on the basis of caste, colour, appearance and what not is normal to happen in society, on a daily basis. But what’s more hurtful and shaking is if you come across this at your home or within your close friend circle. It’s, yet again, natural to feel jealous for not having that trait or own a thing which leads to recognition and acceptance in community. For e.g.: an overweight person tends to feel jealous of a person with slim body type, due to the belief that “slim is beautiful”.
How to deal?
It’s really hard to love your self when a part of past was all about community, people, family member not accepting you for who you authentically are. Therapy, reading self-help books or practising Body positivity, doing I am affirmations, Inner child healing can actually help you dig down those inferiority complexes caused by unacceptance and help you meet your authentic version and provide the love and respect you always deserved.
3. Unmet needs
It very obvious to feel jealous of the expected and deserving things which did not take place in your life and it did in the life of your near and dear ones. For e.g.: growing up in a dysfunctional/abusive family environment, a parent with prolonged illness, losing a sibling at a young age, being a single child in an isolated family of working parents, etc. It’s natural to feel insecure or jealous of the obvious happy or little things that life did not bless you with. It’s okay to mourn the loss of something you never had. Acting a role of an adult as a child is already not easy and over that becoming hard on yourself will only worsen the situation for you.
How to deal?
It’s easier said than done, but in such life situations only accepting fate with strength and courage and allowing all your feeling to pass through you with respect is all that can help to over come it. You can always seek help from therapy in identifying your unmet needs and learning skills to cope and meeting them self sufficiently as an adult now. Your past is not the predictor of how your future should be.
Often our mind makes us do wishful thinking about a perfect life, perfect job, perfect partner, etc, but that’s not what reality serves us with. Or we fantasize and unrealistically expect about “the glamorous and dreamy life” that we fill our mind with from social media, especially #LifeOnInstagram, imagine and expect that for ourselves. Now it’s one thing to see something, get inspired and work on achieving it, but it’s whole other thing if witness that social media portrayal influences you in a way that you end up feeling jealous and contain your self with self-loathing thoughts.
How to deal?
The first and foremost thing is to gain insight that awareness that your life history and your body is separate from what others are portraying on social media. The sheer acceptance of this reality check will be strong enough to make you notice the feeling of jealousy and just give it time to witness and let go. Try to practise gratitude for whatever you have made out of your life or are blessed with, instead of over-expecting something irrational against your reality.
In the end, you can learn that jealousy happens because something matters to you. Now its for you to identify how trivial or big it is by recognising the meaning behind it. If its jealousy in a relationship, then it needs to be communicated in a sensitive manner with mindful engagement of both partners.
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