Though it may come in different forms, jealousy is known to be and do many things.
It can rear its ugly head as a green-eyed monster. One may not even be able to avoid it, at least according to an old Breton proverb: “As long as there will remain two men on Earth, Jealousy will reign”. It seems as if the experts are torn: a little bit of jealousy is ok, says Maya Angelou, too much is fatal. Others, such as Charley Reese, say that “If malice or envy were tangible and had a shape, it would be the shape of a boomerang” as if to say that jealousy will only come back to hurt you. We have the capacity to be jealous of friends, lovers, siblings, parents, colleagues, teammates, peers, teachers, employers, employees, and even strangers. At a time when I hated my job, I looked out my window at people picking grapes in the freezing cold and I thought, you lucky bastards! You have no idea how good you have it.
Looking back, I can see how that was a bit selfish and really, really stupid. I just wanted so badly to not have to continue driving in the direction I was going and I thought anything would be better. So much so, that I was jealous of day labor, one of the most grueling jobs in America. On one hand, that illustrates how difficult my position was, and on the other hand, how weak I was in my mind because I couldn’t see all the value that I could contribute regardless of the extenuating circumstances of my job.
As much as I wish I could outmaneuver jealousy by using my brilliant mind to tell my insecurities that the jealousy isn’t actually real: it’s a manifestation of my own inability to be comfortable with who I am. Unfortunately, my brain is no match for my anxiety. I can repeat over and over logical explanations for why I feel how I do and yet, jealousy persists.
If you’re like me, you’re occasionally frustrated by feelings of jealousy because you aren’t able to control them even though you recognize that your actions are motivated by envious feelings. If you’re not like me, then you’re in one of two groups. Group one has women who have little tendency towards jealousy. If that’s the case, stick around anyway, I’m going to write some really interesting stuff. If you’re group two, then you think you’re group one because you won’t admit that you’re jealous because of insecurity.
Whichever group you’re a member of, you can appreciate the following: jealousy is a waste of time. Think about this scenario of one friend jealous of the other.
One friend has a great job that pays well and she gets a lot of personal satisfaction from it as well as accolades from her superiors. The second friend works outside of her preferred field for an ignoramus and hates going to work every day. Now, if you are the second friend, obviously you wish you were as happy as your friend, but if you allow jealousy to come between you and your relationship with your friend, you can potentially destroy your friendship. After all, your friend hasn’t actually done anything wrong to deserve your wrath, but we tend to take our jealous feelings on those whom we are jealous of.
The same goes for friends who are naturally thinner, or get more attention from men, have better relationships with their parents, have children who are smarter, faster or stronger, have better health, etc. We all enjoy our friends’ positive attributes because being around people who we want to be like inspires us to be a better person, but only if we can push away jealousy and let admiration take its place.
Jealousy of a sibling can be even more destructive because there is something about blood relationships that makes it harder to give up a jealous feeling and harder to forgive the sibling of whom you’re jealous. We expect more from a sibling and are willing to give less. Instead of finding support from the sibling you feel jealous of, you find him/her pulling away from you. Because of an ineffable connection between family members, your sibling will probably be able to recognize where your bad behavior stems from and if he/she doesn’t or can’t, you will leave your poor sibling confused as to what he or she did wrong wherein the real problem lays with you. If you don’t like your relationship with your parents, change it. If it’s beyond your control, accept it. But, you must stop blaming your sibling. Naturally, there are exceptions, so again, if your sibling is purposely working on putting space between you and a parent, that is a different problem and it must be addressed. The only way you can know for sure is by honestly looking at yourself and your relationship to the problem.
Jealousy of one’s mate is perhaps the most dangerous of any kind. I’ve had two non-jealous boyfriends and I’d say rather certainly that I have a jealous husband. Luckily, he has a wife who is rather no-nonsense so when he says something silly about “that dude over there” I make sure to clear it up right away. Jealousy has no business in our relationship when it comes to trust. If you trust one another, then jealous feelings must be put aside. I happen to agree with Maya Angelou: a little bit of a jealousy is a good thing. When a waitress flirts with my husband, my “MINE” instincts get triggered. I’m jealous that another woman is flirting with my man. I think that kind of jealousy is ok; it reminds us to fight for what we want to hold on to. Taking that jealousy to the next level is not ok: accusing my husband of having a fling with said waitress. I trust my husband more than any man on the planet to stay true to me: it’s one good reason I married him. There are two reasons you might not trust your mate, and thus jealousy flourishes. First, your mate might have deceived you in the past, therefore you don’t trust him and you are jealous of women whom he encounters. Secondly, you’re a naturally jealous person, your mate has done nothing to concern you and you are being overbearing, ruining your relationship. In the first instance, all you can do is allow your mate to rebuild your trust: but you must allow it! In the second case, you must sit down, first with yourself, then with your mate and find out why you feel you can’t trust him and why you feel you must seize upon every opportunity to declare what is rightfully yours. Remember though, he is yours because he allows it and your jealous nature tests that.
A long time ago, an old French guy said: In jealousy, there is more self-love than love (Francois, Duc de La Rochefoucauld). Is it possible that the jealousy over your mate stems from feeling less than important or special in his life? Perhaps your jealousy is manifesting because you need to feel more love than you get, or you don’t allow enough love in to be felt and therefore you feel jealous when you see him “loving” someone else, i.e. giving attention to someone else.
Here we return to my first point: Our insecurities cause jealousy. We often blame jealousy on the person whom we are jealous of, whereas the truth is that our feelings of jealousy stem from our own insecurities. Whether or not the actions of someone else make us feel insecure is another story; we still only have ourselves to blame and ourselves to control. If you truly want to change your jealous ways, you must first attack your insecurities. An urban cultural anthropologist named Jennifer James said,
Jealousy is simply and clearly the fear that you do not have value. Jealousy scans for evidence to prove the point – that others will be preferred and rewarded more than you. There is only one alternative – self-value. If you cannot love yourself, you will not believe that you are loved. You will always think it’s a mistake or luck. Take your eyes off others and turn the scanner within. Find the seeds of your jealousy, clear the old voices and experiences. Put all the energy into building your personal and emotional security. Then you will be the one others envy, and you can remember the pain and reach out to them.
So while you sit and ponder who you might be jealous of and how jealousy is affecting your life, consider this as well: The envious die not once, but as oft as the envied win applause (Baltasar Gracian). Each time you allow jealousy to win, you kill a small part of yourself. Jealousy really is destructive, especially if it is controlling your actions. It will turn your loved ones against you, because your jealousy has turned them into enemies. It is the fault of your own insecurities, which you must address so you can have a relationship or friendship with someone you wish to be like or someone you feel belongs to you. Once you do this, your relationships will flourish, unbound by limitations of weakness.