I have experienced envy much more than jealousy. Envy is something that I think everyone experiences from time to time, and it certainly can turn into jealousy if allowed. Typically, I have used envy to push me to do what it takes, personally, to achieve that which I may envy. I am also mature enough to know when something that I envy is simply out of my reach, unattainable, and I push on. Jealousy, however, has never really been an issue that I have struggled with, but the few times I have were times of deep personal reflection and growth.
Usually, jealousy causes animosity, division, unrealistic competition and negative feelings like anger, hatred, or distrust. Jealousy has destroyed many a relationship, and friendships. One person is jealous of the person they have romantic feelings for. The jealous person forbids or blocks their “lover” from speaking with or spending time with anyone else but them. Friends become jealous of another’s popularity, money, prestige, skills, connections, possessions or something else.
How can jealousy be used for personal growth? When you become aware of some of the feelings that I previously listed, or find yourself doing some of the things I listed, it’s time to take a step back and ask yourself, “Why am I doing this?” There may be a need to do some deep, personal, soul searching. Figure out why you are doing what you are doing or why you are feeling what you are feeling. Once you figure these questions out, you will be better equipped to grow and to adjust how you’re doing things so you can overcome the jealousy. The answers may not be what you want to see, but if you are realistic, they can really help you grow. When you have assessed why you feel the way you do, and figured out how much or how little control you have over the situation, it is time to adjust what you’re doing and feeling to match what you have discovered. Then you need to take the actions necessary to achieve what you want (if it is actually attainable) or let it go.
I have been asked how I came up with the formulas that I use. Did I make it all up? Was it “divine” impartation of the universe? The answer is really very simple…I have no idea. As far back as I can remember, I have used the formula that I have just told you about. My father died when I was quite young. I have a vague impression that my family may have had a few sessions with a therapist, but I don’t really know. I was six years old when he died, so, it is possible that I derived the methods and formula from those sessions…that may or may not have been. Nevertheless, in the following paragraphs, I’ll tell you how I used this method and formula to deal with situations of jealousy and envy in my life.
When I was a child, I had a friend whose name was Johnny. I was jealous of him for many reasons. I hate to say it, but many of those reasons were the basis of my “friendship” with him. Johnny was funny and popular. He had two parents who loved each other and got along, he lived in a great house where he had his own bedroom, he had the latest technology, and most of all he had every Star Wars toy that was on the market! In fact, the first time I saw Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, it was at his home on his VCR. I was an extremely un-funny wall-flower. My parents never really got along, my dad was now dead, my mother was a nut-case, I had to share a very small bedroom with two brothers, and we were very poor even though my dad had almost become a millionaire before he was killed. I think you can understand my jealousy and envy. One day, I realized that I would never have all the toys that he did. I also realized that I had no control over my mother or her relationships or her mental status. I realized that I had no control over where I lived. This made me sad, but it helped. I decided that I could learn to be funny and popular. I also realized that I would not have to live at home forever, just until I was 18 and then I could move out; this gave me hope and purpose.
By the time I had reached high school, I was learning to become funnier, and became a popular guy. I was so well known and popular, that I decided to run for President of the Associated Student Government. I figured that no one could beat me but I had an unexpected bump coming. I hadn’t planned on Rob Mole, captain of the football team running. When he did, I (in my own hubris and self-importance) figured that there was no way he could beat me. I hadn’t planned on him sweeping in and getting all my “popular” friends to join his campaign before he even announced his candidacy. Needless to say, he took the vote by a landslide. I was angry and, yes, extremely jealous. I realized that he had won fair and square. I took notes on what to do and what not to do, and did my best to work with Rob and not against him. It wasn’t long before I realized that he was relying on me, and that he was learning from me. That was humbling for me.
Jealousy reared its ugly head, again, recently. Again, it was jealousy with fellow classmates, and not one classmate, but two of them! The first classmate is a real go-getter. He’s a guy who has things come quite easily to him. If things don’t come easily, he pushes and pushes until he gets it. The two of us, it seemed, were vying for the top spot in some of the classes we are in. For a while, I didn’t like this. I said to myself, “I can’t let him be better than me! I’ve got to beat him! I want to see him fail.” I realized that I was jealous of him. When I came to that realization, I realized that I saw him as a threat! Then I realized that he is my classmate and that he can be an ally in class and the future. There is no reason why only one person can be at the top of the class; there is no reason why every person in the class can’t have straight “A’s.” This was very freeing for me, and I see him as a friend, again, and not a competitor. Another classmate keeps getting roles in plays that I want, and he had a role in a recent play where he had the attention of all the ladies. He can dance and is suave and popular. We are alike in many ways, but there are a few things that he can do that I want to and can’t currently do. Those ways we are different and the fact he’s gotten the roles I wanted (particularly the one where he was the focus of the ladies) made me jealous. I realized that I was jealous; I knew why. I had a hard time overcoming my jealousy of him. It suddenly occurred to me that it is our differences that allow us to succeed. He will go on to play the suave, swashbuckling leading man. He’ll be another Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, or Ryan Reynolds. I will never be those. On the other hand, I will go on to become another Robin Williams, Tom Hanks, or Bill Murray, and he will won’t. Robin Williams will never be Brad Pitt, and vice versa. Both have their unique roles just as my friends and I have ours. None of the roles are better than the other. Each are unique and yet each are equal. These realizations brought my jealousy to an end.
Our emotions guide us and can ultimately lead us down a path of destruction or to a place of growth and unity with everything around us. Negative emotions such as anger, hatred, jealousy and envy can destroy if left unchecked. We can be aware of our feelings, and why we are feeling what we are feeling and we can use them to grow. It is only through evaluation, introspection, and analysis of ourselves, our emotions, our motives, our fears and desires that we can use our emotions to bring unity and wholeness to ourselves and our surroundings.