Jealousy is an unpleasant emotion, but believe it or not: it really has its upside. What does your jealousy mean? Ask yourself these three questions and you’ll find out.
Jealousy at a friend who gets the job you wanted. It's a simple example of someone who has something you would really want to have, too. Even if you think you’re not jealous at all, it may suddenly hit you. They have something you don’t, and it doesn’t seem fair. You don’t want to, but admit it: you’re jealous.
It’s a physical emotion, that’s what makes it difficult to be jealous. It can truly feel like a stab, it can make you nauseous. The most plausible solution is to turn away from the person you’re jealous of.
But that’s a shame. Especially if it’s someone you love, or who’s important to you. Jalousy can turn into envy, making you point your arrows at the one who has what you don’t have – arrows that can poison a relationship, and in the end will hit you, and fill you with resentment and other emotional unpleasantness.
You don't want to be jealous
You don’t want to go there. But what do you want to do? The difficulty is that you'd probably prefer to deny all of it. You don’t want to be jealous. All you want is to be filled with the emotion Buddhists named murdita, the feeling you have when you enjoy other people’s joy and prosperity – straight from your noble heart.
But you can’t force that. Denying jealousy doesn’t work, it only makes things worse. In fact, the solution is: don’t deny it, but dig into it and find out what causes your jealousy, and then use that to increase your own joy and prosperity.
What does jealousy mean? Ask these questions, and you’ll find the answer.
1. What’s your desire?
If you are jealous, you have a desire for something. You want something you don’t have right now. So the first question is: what are you jealous of?
If you’re jealous of a colleague who just found a new job, what is it in the job that causes your jealousy? Is it the job itself (and what’s so special about it)? Or is it the simple fact that she has the guts to take new steps, to chase her dreams? Think about it, and try to describe it as precisely as possible.
2. How could you fulfill it?
This is a valuable insight: jealousy is usually about something that’s within your reach. Something you might have had, too. (Think about it: if you’re not athletic at all, you’re not jealous of an athlete.)
You might think of jealousy as a signal of inequality and an impulse to change it, make it equal. Jealousy, to put it bluntly, kicks your ass. It urges you to take action and go after your goal – a goal that, apparently, is within your reach. So ask yourself: how could you reach the goal you want to reach? Which steps do you need to take?
3. Who might be able to help you?
The person who might help you, might very well be the very person you’re jealous of. Just admit that you’re jealous (it makes it so much easier!) and ask this person: what did they do to reach the point where they are? Could she share some tips and tricks? Then, look around you. Are there others who might help you – a coach, friends? In short: ask for help, and get into action.
Use jealousy in a positive way
The latter, getting into action, is the start of a solution. You might even think of it as the very meaning of jealousy – when you get into action, and try to get closer to your goal, jealousy disappears. It might be too much to be content with your jealousy from now on, because it will never be a pleasant. But, if you want to, you can turn it into something positive and use it to reach your goals. That’s a whole different story!
Text: Anne Wesseling - Photo: Antonio Francisco