You’ve done it. I’ve done it. We saw someone who had a characteristic or possession we desired and actually resented that person for it. There are a few ways to describe this feeling. Pick a word, any word: Jealous. Envious. Green-eyed. Covetous. We’ve all played the part of the hater. I’ll raise my hand first. It’s okay to admit it. Jealousy is an emotion that comes to us naturally. Babies and even animals express this emotion. It’s universal and has been the subject of classics in literature and movies old and new, but we have to admit it is not a very healthy or productive feeling. So many people, men and women, operate through a filter of jealousy. It leads them around by the throat and hinders relationships, maturity and provokes many to violent and destructive behavior. The obvious outward signs are usually easy to pinpoint (gossip, fights [physical/verbal], slander), but the subtle effects can be just as destructive. If we allow it to be a marker for our personality, it becomes an albatross that brings you down and nullifies the impact your life should have in the lives around you. Let’s just take a look at Merriam-Webster’s definition for some context.
1 a : intolerant of rivalry or unfaithfulness
b : disposed to suspect rivalry or unfaithfulness
Here are some reasons I believe jealousy hinders lives:
1. It Makes You Unattractive
Jealousy is a very ugly emotion and consequently makes us look unattractive. Between the sly looks, snide comments and the blank look conveying I-don’t-see-you-even-though-you-are-walking-toward-me is just plain ugly. I am not going to tip-toe around that type of behavior and just call it rude. I’ve encountered it at work, school, and church. Cut it out. Nobody is blind or stupid and it really says more about you than the person you don’t like.
2. You Label a Friend a “Foe”
Occasionally we come across someone who we may envy that we should really befriend. It could be that your best friend has a new friend and you feel left out. So you may feel slighted, resentful and look for any reason why your BFF should drop-kick the new “competition.” Maybe a new coworker makes you feel threatened because of his/her great performance. But it’s also an opportunity to find out if this person is in your proximity for a positive reason.
3. Become Blind to Your Own Assets
No doubt envy has its root in insecurity. We all fight feeling inadequate in some way or another, but it’s not usually founded in reality. So who cares if someone has a “better” nose, hair texture or financial status? Celebrate your own beauty, attractiveness and gifts. Work on you. If you are not making the money you want, work on building your income in other ways or start a new career. We spend so much time looking at what someone else has and very little effort in our own lives.
4. Your Imagination Rules vs. Reality
Sometimes if we could peek into the “perfect” lives of our “rivals” we would have a serious reality check. Behind a brave face can be someone suffering from a debilitating condition or an abusive situation. Even people in very enviable positions are dealing with depression and feelings of suicide and loneliness. There are so many people in the world who wish they had what many of us take for granted — clean water, food, heat and transportation. Put your life and the lot of so many hurting people in perspective. Count your blessings — we have many.
Of course this list is not exhaustive, but hopefully it gives us all something to think about when that green-eyed monster wants to make an appearance.
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