Jealousy. It’s a nasty little thing, and low self-esteem is it’s best friend. Being envious of others for having something we want and don’t have can lead us not only to harm ourselves but to harm those we are jealous of too.
When I feel happy and content with my own life, my own body and my own spirit and I practice gratitude, I have no need to envy others for what they have. But being imperfectly human it’s something I’ve battled with, especially (I’m ashamed to say) where other women are concerned. Jealous that they are thinner or prettier than me, jealous that they have a particular man that I don’t, jealous that they own a home, jealous that they have a husband and a family, jealous that they can run faster, jealous that they are better at a job than me, jealous they have more money, jealous of the places they are travelling to, jealous that they are younger than me. Jealous.
And this often led me into another insidious behaviour linked with low self-esteem – gossiping. Being unkind about the person I was jealous of and putting them down in order to make myself feel better was a practice I indulged in far more often than I’d like to admit. And the worst things is, it didn’t make me feel better at all. I was still jealous and now I was also nasty too.
About four years ago, a mentor I was working with highlighted that gossip might be something I needed to work on. I was astounded. I didn’t see myself as a gossip but, sure enough, when I looked at myself honestly, I was. And so she said, “Next time you go to say something about someone or speak their name, pause for a moment and ask yourself: is it true? Is it necessary? Is it kind? If it’s not then maybe you don’t need to say it.” This has been revolutionary for me. Of course I am still guilty of sliding back into old behaviours and saying something about someone or gossiping about something, however, today I am so much more mindful of where that comes from and am able to nip it in the bud. I ask myself, am I just jealous of this person and if I am can I wish them love and happiness and success with my thoughts instead? More often than not I can. Even in situations where I would have previously been tempted to throw a self-pity party.
The green-eyed monster
Let’s face it, there is no greater area the green-eyed monster raises its head than in and around relationships.
When we are rejected for someone else, the hurt hits us on many different levels and self-esteem takes a big old hit. Whether that’s being cheated on or someone you like falling for someone else or someone you’ve broken up with quickly getting a new partner and forgetting about you, that stuff is painful and can lead to jealousy of the other person involved, even if it’s someone you don’t know and who hasn’t actually done anything wrong.
This has been a story that has played out a number of times for me and it’s been one that’s caused me a lot of hurt. Feelings of worthlessness and inadequacy. Feelings that if I find happiness someone else better is always going to come along and steal it. Feelings that I’m never enough. This is another area I’ve had to work hard on and one of the first steps was letting go of any anger, hatred and jealousy towards other women who I believed had come along and taken what I thought was mine.
First and foremost it was never mine. We don’t own anybody and if something or someone is meant for you, it won’t fall away that easily. Coming to believe that has given me peace. When I get stuck in painful attachments to people, I continue to hurt myself and block myself from allowing someone or something else into my life.
The second thing I learnt to do was to consciously direct my thoughts in a kind and loving way to that person during meditation and to wish them happiness, even through any unresolved hurt that still resided within me. This practice gives me peace and allows me to move on with my life. Believe me I do not always want to do it and I don’t always mean it at first but, eventually, I do and without fail it always helps. What freedom this brings.
Compare and despair and the “hate like”
Social media is a breeding ground for jealousy. We all show our best lives, our best selves, and scrolling through a newsfeed when you feel crappy about yourself or your life can exasperate insecurities and lead to “compare and despair” in abundance.
“Hate liking” is apparently now a thing, a phenomenon where people like posts on social media, not because they actually like them, but because they are jealous and resentful of the lives others are leading. Aren’t we strange creatures?
What’s been one of the biggest gifts for me since becoming more mindful and living a more spiritual life is addressing my need to constantly compare myself to other people (women in particular) and being able to genuinely feel kindness, compassion, love, appreciation and happiness for others for what they are sharing, for what is going on in their lives, for where they are travelling to, for the relationships they have. These moments are special and no one, no one, has a perfect life. We never know what struggles and battles others may also be going through, what difficulties their lives hold. So don’t they deserve a nice holiday? A romantic meal out? A beautiful wedding day? Joy at the birth of their child? I think they do. This has given me so much freedom.
Social media can be harsh. It brings out unkindness in people like nothing else. I’m often shocked at the things people say and how mean they are behind their keyboards. However, I don’t need to engage in that. There are also many good uses for social media too. For work I’m on a group that at is all about helping people to grow their businesses and champion one another. The guy who set it up won’t stand for anyone knocking someone else down or being rude or cruel. It’s an inspiring group to be a part of and I enjoy being on it.
I’ve also recently joined a women’s social group since moving back to Folkestone and I love it. It’s a rich tapestry of different women sharing their lives. To have this safe space to engage with other women and to champion and support each other, not tear each other down, is a gift.
Jealously is called a monster for a reason and there’s a reason envy is one of the seven deadly sins. It will eat you alive if you let it. Every night before I go to bed I write down 10 things I’m grateful for in my life. I have so much to be thankful for. Focusing on this and not on what I don’t have or what others have is the key to living a happier and more peaceful life free from jealously.