Jealousy. It is one of the WORST feelings to feel, at least for me.
Do you feel that way too?
Most of us did not grow up in a family that was self-aware, so when you first come to realize you are jealous, you don’t know what to do with it! It can either spin you into a rip-roaring downward spiral in which you harbor the emotion inside yourself, damning each one of your personal characteristics and sending yourself into silence and deep depression. Sometimes you stuff the darn thing away to try to forget it, but only to find it comes back out in an argument via word-vomit (I know, horrible visual on that one!). Or, and in my very recent case, it can send you floating upward and feeling untethered by negativity.
Yup – the latest situation was a game changer for me.
You see, not too long ago, I noticed a friend following their dream. And I felt that instant kick in the stomach. The incessant flow of questions and comments flooded in and started ringing loudly in my ears:
I will never be able to do that.
How did they achieve their dream so quickly?
I definitely do NOT have the experience.
Do they have the experience?
I don’t deserve to dream – I need to focus on surviving.
Ugh, I can NOT believe THEY did it.
They don’t have everything down perfectly yet.
And on… and on… and on. You’d think that 5 hours had passed, when it was just 5 seconds!!
But then I quickly remembered, from years of my recent training (therapy!), that I didn’t need to let this crazy feeling get the best of me. After all, life is too short to feel crappy. Am I right? Here’s what I did to say “buh bye” to my jealousy:
Step 1: Show Your Jealousy Some Lovin’
Yes, I just acknowledged it was there. I embraced it. I realized we ALL feel it, even humble people like me!
Unpleasant emotions are actually designed to help us exceed, not recede into a cave. Keep on loving yourself despite this emotion. Just this first step will decrease that stomach pang alone.
Step 2: Realize Thoughts Associated with Jealousy are FALSE Beliefs
Yup, every single one of them. Usually jealousy is hiding a truth underneath it such as a want or a need that you truly desire.
Start by just turning your negative thoughts into positive thoughts (sounds totally airy fairy right?!) Just try this out, even for just one thought!
Here’s how my thought pattern got rearranged:
Hey, I can do that!
I’m amazed at how they achieved their dream so quickly!
I DO have the experience too!
They definitely DO have the experience. I’ve talked with them extensively before.
I do deserve to dream and can survive seamlessly along the way. Poverty is a thing of my past!
I’m so happy for them that THEY did it!
Perfection is not real! How awesome that they just decided to GO FOR IT!
After you’ve flipped your thoughts, take a good look at what truth they were covering.
In my case, they were covering that I wanted to do something similar to what my friend was doing. HOLY MOLY!!!
With this mouth-dropping discovery, I thought, “Well, GRRREAT. What do I do now?” That takes me to our next step.
Step 3: Acknowledge Your Shame Around Jealousy
I’m reading a great book called The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are by Brené Brown (shout out to my friend who introduced me to her!).
Brené, a research professor at the University of Houston (yay, my birth town!) and whose name rhymes with my own, confidently reminds readers to confide in a friend they TRUST immensely. When the right person is chosen, the shame around jealousy is diffused and normalized as the other person acknowledges they have felt that same way and will stand by regardless of mistakes or imperfections. (Check out Brené and Oprah's convo about it HERE).
In my unique case, I knew the friend I was jealous of was ALSO someone I could confide in. Lucky me for my first breakthrough! But don’t get me wrong, I’m not someone to share my emotions easily and it’s almost like pulling teeth to get me to open up about the real thick emotions. It’s an extremely delicate and very vulnerable experience for me. I’m sure you can relate.
Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness. ~ Dr. Brené Brown
I took a deep breath and called my friend. I told my friend the positive thoughts outlined above in regards to my excitement for their achievement. And then I added, “I have been thinking of moving in this direction for a while and you are an inspiration to me. I have to admit I felt a bit jealous for a minute there.” And just like that, my friend acknowledged how I felt and said they supported ME in moving in the direction that I wanted! The jealousy was diffused immediately!
Our stories are not meant for everyone. Hearing them is a privilege, and we should always ask ourselves this before we share: "Who has earned the right to hear my story?" If we have one or two people in our lives who can sit with us and hold space for our shame stories, and love us for our strengths and struggles, we are incredibly lucky. If we have a friend, or small group of friends, or family who embraces our imperfections, vulnerabilities, and power, and fills us with a sense of belonging, we are incredibly lucky. ~ Dr. Brené Brown
Step 4: Make a Change!
So you’ve realized that we all get jealous from time to time (no biggie!), that those hurtful thoughts are just loads of crap and you can do anything you want to (within reason, of course!), and that you can confide in a super-accepting friend to realize you aren’t alone in this topsy-turvy world.
Well, this is that pinnacle moment where most of us fall into complaining. Eckhart Tolle, well-known author of The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment, says:
See if you can catch yourself complaining, in either speech or thought, about a situation you find yourself in, what other people do or say, your surroundings, your life situation, even the weather. To complain is always nonacceptance of what is. It invariably carries an unconscious negative charge. When you complain, you make yourself into a victim. When you speak out, you are in your power. So change the situation by taking action or by speaking out if necessary or possible; leave the situation or accept it. All else is madness. ~ Eckhart Tolle
And there it is folks. DO something about it!
Here are those CHOICES again (I like bulleted lists – easier on the eye):
Take Action: Go for it! Make like Michael Jackson and “Make that Change”. Get moving towards whatever your unique passion is. You can do it! Or maybe what your friend is doing or has is not EXACTLY what you want to do or need, and you still need some time to think it through. Make a change and start researching and setting time aside to think about what it is you DO want. DO YOU baby!
Accept It: Let that shiznitz go! Sometimes, we are jealous because other parts of our lives are difficult and we aren’t in a position to change them (yet). So wish the other person well and let it go. When we are jealous and ruminate on the other person, we expend much energy that could be focused elsewhere. The brain is beautifully designed for problem solving. However, we can NOT control others, and if you count up all the time and energy (seriously, it’s exhausting!) spent on thinking about something when jealous, it eventually adds up. Take all of that time and energy and focus on your life and DO YOU!!
For probably the first time in my life, I took action. I started talking through my new found goal and it sank in that I had a very big network of supporters, some who even had ideas for me!! I am still in the middle of pursuing this goal and I am excited to see where my adventure takes me.
But wait… there’s more!
About a month after I started making progress on my goal, a good friend of mine called me. My friend told ME how happy they were for me, how much of an inspiration I was, so much so that I inspired them to make a leap into the direction of THEIR dream.
Me, an inspiration to my friend, whom I admire and draw inspiration from?! I was so humbled that I had to share my jealous story and how I got motivated to work towards my goal. And just like that – my friend shared their shame, their JEALOUSY story with ME!
Circle of life anyone? (Cue Lion King song...)
You see, we can all feel jealous from time to time, but with the support of strong truth and understanding friends, we can turn jealousy into inspiration...a call to follow our dreams. And once you find your spark, your light, your own inspiration, you can't help but INSPIRE OTHERS around you. The gift keeps giving :)
I’d love to hear from you now!
Dealt with jealousy before? Had trouble finding the right friend to confide in? Have any inspirational stories to share? I want to hear about it below!
Be the Light (you never know who you'll inspire!),
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