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How To De-Weaponize Jealousy
This month, Ben Pechey looks at how to deal with the green-eyed monster.
We’ve all been there, having a harmless scroll through social media, when we stumble across someone we vaguely know, doing or being something which we deem as amazing. The jolt behind the navel, the slight defensive whisper of ‘why am I not doing that’, the telltale signs of jealousy.
Jealousy is an unusual sort of emotion , one that affects all our lives without any intention. This passive snake of ill-feeling can creep up on us at any moment, leaving us seasick.
The woe and despair that jealousy can cause is like the waves of nausea caused every boat I have set foot on.
Riding the waves of jealousy can leave you feeling deflated at best, and at the worst angry and resentful. This unexpected jolt of negativity can leave you in a stupor, unable to concentrate, and it can seriously derail your day. We all feel jealous, at one point in our lives. So you need to know that you are not the only one staring at your phone feeling nauseous.
I sat and really pondered my relationship with jealousy, and looked inward for the advice we all need. Humans as creatures are basic, run by instinct that has been honed over millennia. Jealousy is at its core a learned behaviour, which is GREAT, because it means with a little bit of cerebral cardio, it can be unlearned.
The first step on this journey is to take the sting out of jealousy and understand what this behaviour is trying to tell us. If we had to choose a family of emotions to place jealousy in, then I would suggest it comes from Pride.
Pride is protective, a sense of self that gives us the comfort that what we are doing with our lives is the best option, and that we are doing a good job. Think of jealousy as the sibling of pride; a little bit grumpy, but its heart is in the right place.
When you realise that jealousy is coming from a good place, it suddenly feels far less consuming. Jealousy is trying to make sure that you are in control and feel that your life is heading in the right direction, but the message is being lost in translation. This is a key step in de-weaponising your jealousy and transforming the negative energy into a positive momentum.
The second step is the way that jealousy offers us the chance to reflect on our current situation. When it first rears its head, some of us receive feelings of inadequacy, that perhaps there aren’t enough positive things in our life. Well at first glance it may seem you are on the back foot to that distant friend on Instagram, but in reality when was the last time you totted up all the positive things you have in your life?
Pangs of jealousy are a great way to sit and remind yourself of all the things that you are grateful for.
You may not have the latest bag or had a massive holiday this year, but you have achieved things that matter to you. A way to explain this feeling is when you stumble across a limited-edition collaboration on H&M online, you get instantly sucked into the hype, and the desire to buy. However, anything you like is sold out, and you feel deflated. Your mind has played a trick on you because you never really wanted anything in the first place. In essence, your mood is unchanged, your mind has run away with itself. Negative feelings will always be a great indicator for some personal admin, check in with your goals and plans and allow you to realise that you are doing pretty great!
With just two steps you have made cold-hearted jealousy seem no more daunting than a reminder on your phone. It is an emotional red flag, to have a quiet word with yourself and to keep on the track that is making you happy, and fulfilling your goals.
The third and final step is quite possibly the most freeing out of them all; a small amount of jealousy can do us good! As ridiculous as this may sound, I firmly stand by this statement, and this is what has changed my relationship with jealousy so much. Jealousy reminds you what it is you want in this life, it acts as a little piece of internal reverse psychology, to inject a little bit of get up and go.
Jealousy in a weird way, when fully understood can drive motivation, fulfil to-do lists and inspire you in moments of listlessness. Jealousy in small doses can add a little momentum in the right places to make you achieve your goals, and is very helpful.
So stop seeing jealousy as a weapon, and instead see it as an ally, that can help you in ways you never even realised it could!
*** It is a good point to remind you that too much of a good thing can be toxic, never underestimate the power of jealousy on your mental health. As always with any emotional behaviour, if you feel overwhelmed, unable to cope, always seek help where necessary and speak to loved ones if you are concerned.