Jealousy – The Telltale Emotion

Jealous is an ugly emotion, it has to be said. It’s an emotion we don’t often admit to, due to the connotations it brings, and it’s an emotion I find myself wishing I couldn’t feel.

There’s plenty of emotions we’re not all that happy about feeling; the usual culprits like Anger, Sadness, Fear, etc. Think Disneys’ Inside Out. What makes it easier though, is that they often present themselves with good reason. If I’m mad it’s because someone or something has had that effect on me. When I’m sad, it’s because something has upset me. Obviously there are certain factors involved in any and all emotional processing, things like hormones, chemical imbalances, mental illness, tiredness, alcohol, and many, many others can all come into play. Emotions aren’t an easy thing to make sense of at the best of times, and I don’t mean to boil them down to simple cause-effect statements. The thing is, though, barring any extraneous facts, I at least feel there’s a certain honesty to those other emotions. Jealousy, on the other hand, seems as bitter and twisted as its usual personifications.

As the years have gone by, I’ve been feeling more and more jealous; something I’ve never really had much experience in the past. I’ve found myself getting jealous of a friend moving forward in life, jealous of someones house, their job, their earnings. Jealous of someone going for that promotion at work, jealous of someone losing that weight they put on over Christmas. I’ve found that, whilst still feeling a genuine happiness for someone, I’m tainted with this underlying feeling of jealousy.

But, it’s actually all coming to light.

I’ve realised that, whilst the other emotions have many outside triggers, jealousy actually has a really interesting internal one. At it’s highest level, it comes across as a lack of respect for the person it’s aimed at. It’s a “Why them?“. It’s a “They don’t deserve that“. I think that’s why we don’t like to talk about it, because at the highest level it’s simply arrogance, bitterness, or ill-intent towards the other person. It’s, in fact, this that upsets me most. I love my friends and family with all my heart and would never wish them ill; in fact, I wish them every success. The thought that some part of me finds them undeserving of something, the thought that part of me thinks them unworthy of an achievement, is not quite bearable. However, if we look at jealousy a bit further, there’s a second part: “Why not me?”. Here-in lies the hidden truth of jealousy; it’s a facet of our own insecurities and a reflection of our own self esteem.

When I find myself jealous of someone else’s new job, it’s not that they don’t deserve it, and nor does it negate their work towards it; it’s because I’m unhappy with mine.
When I find myself jealous of someone else’s new house, it’s not that they haven’t lived in their own starter homes, it’s not that they haven’t skimped and saved to get where they are; it’s because I’m frustrated with how mine feels right now.
When I find myself jealous… you get the idea.

Jealousy, in my case, is never driven by the fact I wish ill upon someone else, it’s always driven by my own self esteem; it’s driven by factors already bothering me, whether known to me consciously or not. The beauty is, that those areas are often fixable. My house is quite lovely, in all respects, it’s just untidy, undercoated (in places), and is having a few leaky problems. My job, well, that’s another story, but I can still try to support my esteem in that regard.

We can even drill those examples further, until, at a very basic level, they just represent very personal frustrations with where I currently am in my life. Those frustrations are symptoms of a more underlying problem, that of self-esteem or lack of confidence (My Work), lack of motivation and organisation (My House), etc etc. Cure those, and you cure the jealousy. Though that, of course, is easier said than done and something I’m working towards.

Jealousy is, therefore, a marker for when something isn’t quite right within ourselves. It points to areas we need to work on to be happier and more content; areas that might be getting under our skin more than we originally thought.

I still don’t like jealousy, I’d still rather simply feel pure, unfiltered happiness for someone else, but I think I understand it now. On the surface it’s an ugly, unhelpful emotion, and something we feel shame for feeling in the first place, but by refining it, by internally-processing it, it can actually be quite helpful; it can teach us quite a lot about our own frustrations and even shine a light on important areas that maybe need more work than we thought.

Over to you.
Do you ever get jealous?
If so, how do you resolve it?
Let me know in the comments below!

21 thoughts on “Jealousy – The Telltale Emotion

  1. Your insight on this is spot on in my view. Whenever I feel jealous of someone else’s success it’s not about them, it’s about me. I used to spend energy questioning why them and not me, but I don’t now. Part of the reason is because I simply became aware of it as you have, and stopped. But one other part was recognizing the many many uncontrollable variables in the world. We aren’t all the same and even if I’d walked side by side with another person throughout life with exactly the same set of circumstances, achievements and opportunities, that still does not mean we’d be equally qualified or equally lucky when it came to a coveted promotion, book contract, client etc. There’s simply too many variables. And the final factor is a focus on gratitude. Whenever I feel jealous of others, I refocus on gratitude for what I have–and then I’m moved to tears by the sheer abundance of it all.
    Thank you for reflecting so thoughtfully and asking us to do the same.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. As always, Angela, you’re quite right! Luck, circumstance, and all the other variables, all play a role in our lives. We can set out from the same spot, and reach different destinations at different times. Lives are so wonderfully different, and rather than wishing we were someone else (or worse, resenting someone else) we need to appreciate where we are… Either that, or use this emotion to drive us forward.

      Gratitude is, without a doubt, one of the most important things in our lives. I feel like, whilst it might not solve ‘everything’ it can certainly play a part in getting us to where we need to be.

      Thanks for commenting! As always, I look forward to reading your views πŸ™‚ You often make me reconsider and reflect on my own standpoint once again.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post, I get that feeling at times and in fact it is when in comparison to my own life I feel it most… this was spot on and touches so much on mental health and invites the idea of introspection…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Mark Twain once wrote “Comparison is the death of Joy” and I am in a mind to agree with him. When we compare ourselves to others, we often do ourselves a disservice, but it also sheds a bit of light on us too!

      Thanks so much for reading πŸ™‚

      Like

  3. I have experienced jealousy, borne from someone elses insecurity. The person was so nasty and abhorently adulterous he believed I would do the same. His destructive unfounded jelousy I believe was part of a personality disorder at best … a sociapath.
    Your twist on the conventional jealousy is interesting and one I had not thought of. I had not cinsidered it that way. A good honest post that not many would have tackled.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Ellen, I appreciate the kind words. I am sorry to hear about your experience with it; obviously this is a very extreme case and, as we know, everyone’s emotions behave differently (especially if another mental health issue is involved). Despite being such a hurtful experience for you, I do think there is something interesting there in your story. The fact that he projected himself, his own insecurities, his own issues, and probably the things he subconsciously disliked about himself, onto you… It’s something I’ve come to realise I do myself (though, thankfully, never in such a manner as you had to bear) and, in fact, it’s how I stumbled onto this topic I wrote about here. I have a draft post about projecting penned… I might go back to that and get it out for next week πŸ™‚

      Thanks again, Ellen!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Not something I ever talk about, this must have just opened a crack that leaked over your blog.I no doubt will read it as I do most of your posts. πŸ‘€ There are different types of jealousy on different levels like different cancers or different breads. πŸ€” some can swiftly be sorted and aren’t unpleasant. Others well … we understand are not.

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  4. Wow the lack of respect revelation is actually really interesting. What a clever way of looking at it like that. As a writer jealousy is in the toolbox and I wish I had could say, ‘good book and well done!’ instead of becoming a green eyed monster. I really like this post.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Lucy, I’m glad you enjoyed! (And I’m sorry it took me so long to reply!).

      All emotions are great tools for us writers; especially for helping us understand our characters. I think they can help us understand ourselves too πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  5. There are two things here. There’s pathological jealousy that has no basis in truth and can lead to murder at its worst extreme, but there’s also the perfectly natural and normal feeling of dissatisfaction at not having or being or doing something. If your friend hadn’t got a new car you wouldn’t have thought your car was a wreck. If someone at work hadn’t got a promotion you’d never have thought you might have been in line for one. It’s all relative and just reflects our eternal dissatisfaction with what we have. You have two solutionsβ€”enjoy what you have, or get something you like better. And remember, only people who have no self esteem think everybody but they deserves a lucky break.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You’re very right there, Jane! I’m hopefully not experiencing any pathological jealousy… Haha. When it comes to emotions, we obviously have extreme cases for any and all; and regardless we often all experience things in our own, unique way. I do think there are similarities across the board, though.

      I think a grain of truth lies in what you said there, “our eternal dissatisfaction with what we have”. I think that’s one of the problems; dissatisfaction. Rather than gratitude (Car may be a wreck, but many can’t afford one – May have missed a promotion, but at least I have a job), we’re quick to dissatisfaction… A conscious effort could make a world of difference there!

      Like

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