How Jealousy Can Help YOU or Hurt YOU

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By Stacey Rose, LCSW

Maya Angelou, famous poet and author, once said, “jealousy in romance is like salt in food. A little can enhance the savor, but too much can spoil the pleasure and, under certain circumstances, can be life-threatening.” When do YOU feel jealous and how jealous do you get? Some level of jealousy is normal in all relationships but when it gets out of control, people can get hurt. Did you know that the leading cause of spousal homicide in the world is jealousy? Think about the last time your spouse did something and you got jealous. How did you respond? Did you talk about it? Did you seek revenge? How mature were you about it?

So what makes us jealous? Typically, it is when someone else has something you want; whether it is a relationship with a person, a material object (a car or expensive home), a job or certain position at work, or even a specific talent or skill; when he or she has something YOU want, it brings up feelings of jealousy. Jealousy is not a problem in and of itself; instead it is what you choose to do with this feeling that can create a positive or negative experience. If, for instance, you choose to seethe in this emotion of jealousy and begin to spew anger toward this person (who most likely has no idea you have even noticed them, let alone are jealous of them), obviously you will have negative energy around you. If, instead, you choose to ask yourself how you can put what they have into your life in a realistic way, you will have positive energy around you.

Envy and jealousy are similar but different. In other words, envy tends to be the feeling we have when we see someone else living the way we want to live, or possessing the traits/objects we want to have. When we feel envious, we invite an opportunity to put in our lives that in which we desire. For example, if “Carrie” who has struggled with her weight for years, notices her good friend working out and taking care of her health, she may feel envious or jealous. If she is envious, she more likely will take action toward getting healthier herself. If, however, she feels jealous, she will most likely stew in her anger and depression, which tend to be beneath jealousy.

You have choices all the time. When you notice feelings of envy or jealousy arise within you, you can do any of the following:

1. Remind yourself of your strengths.
2. Ask yourself how you can put some of what ‘they’ have into your life-in a realistic way.
3. Ask a friend or family member to listen to your concerns.
4. Remind yourself that chances are strong that the person you may feel jealous of, could be jealous of you or someone else too.
5. Remember, jealousy is a normal human emotion.
6. Choose wisely what to do with your jealousy; you can notice it passing or you can end up in jail if you allow it to go that far.
7. Ask yourself what you are feeling so vulnerable about at this time in your life; chances are this vulnerability may lead you to learn more about your needs at the time.

Good Luck and remember a little jealousy never hurt anyone!