Recently, I found myself in a funk of JEALOUSY. When an acquaintance of mine was given a dance opportunity that I didn’t get, I found myself caught up in a prickly green mess. All I could think about was, “Why her? and, Why not me?” Every day, I watched her practice for her big performance and the jealousy dug its claws right into me. It took every ounce of awareness I had to keep from saying snide, bad things about her to anyone who would listen. I didn’t do it, even though I wanted to. All along, while I was feeling slighted and overlooked, I knew that what I felt had nothing at all to do with her.
Religious people often condemn jealousy and envy, lumping them in with other bad things as sinful – the kind of thoughts that should be eradicated from our lives. We believe jealousy is bad because of what it does to another individual, but the reality is jealousy and envy are far more destructive to our own self than they could ever be to the person we have them focused on. I know, initially, those words don’t really make a lot of sense, but let me explain. . .
In the situation I mentioned above, my feelings of jealousy were connected and inspired by my belief that I am not as good as my fellow dancer. As soon as I heard she would be dancing at the event instead of me, a feeling of lack and insecurity washed over me and was quickly replaced by feelings of jealousy, which over time, grew into feelings of envy. The more I thought about what I didn’t have, the more I bought into the belief that she was chosen over me because I wasn’t good enough, that no one believed in me, that she, of course, was a better dancer.
So, what pulled me out of the sticky green slime of jealousy?
Well, I used the feelings (ugly as they were) to really explore the beliefs I had about myself as a dancer, my insecurities and fears. I dug down and discovered that what I really wanted/needed was someone to believe in me. What I really wanted/needed was to believe in myself and at the time, I wasn’t. I was letting the circumstance dictate how I felt about me. I was allowing the situation to limit my own self-worth. Jealousy feels so bad because while we are caught up in it, we are using an external stimulus to reinforce a belief about our self that is NOT TRUE, usually (almost always) related to, I’m not enough. Not good enough. Not pretty enough. Not smart enough. Whatever; just not enough!
When we place the focus of our fears and insecurities on another person, we don’t address the real issue, the untruth of our comparison. We dishonor our being. The more we focus on another person with jealousy, envy, rivalry and malice, the more deeply our soul begins to accept our greatest fears as the truth. And believe me, this can be bad. I have been around people who have taken their jealous feelings to extremes, and it isn’t pretty. Sadly, most people around us can see that our jealousy and envy is directly proportional to our fears about not measuring up. We’re just using another person as a yardstick.
I can’t take credit for the following definitions; they belong to Michael Bernard Beckwith, but I wanted to quote his ideas to help illuminate why, if left unchecked, these feelings can cause a lot of destruction in our lives. Beckwith calls these the “4 galloping horsemen” because they have a tendency to run away with us.
Jealousy = I want what s/he has.
Envy = I don’t want her/him to have what s/he has.
Rivalry = I’m competing against him/her.
Malice = I’m working against him/her.
In the early phases of jealousy and envy, fortunately we still have the power to use these feelings for our own growth and awareness, if we choose to. Once we begin competing or working against someone else, it is difficult to see that we are really caught up in a self-defeating cycle. It will be difficult to see that we are really just agreeing to and condoning our own fears, our own sense of lack and limitation.
I recently had a conversation with another blogger about how we might employ jealousy and envy as inspiration in our lives. Here are three ideas.
First, we can use them to help us discover ways in which we can hold ourselves in higher regard, believe in ourselves more, give ourselves more, and especially be more compassionate with our own journey.
Secondly, we can use them to take action toward our own wants/needs/desires/dreams – not to have what someone else has or does, but to discover and have our own path, purpose, and passions and to get busy moving in that direction. Too often, we look at others with jealousy because we aren’t acting on what we want.
And finally, we can use them to become more fully ourselves. Get up the nerve to really embrace your own life. Not because you aren’t enough, but simply because the more you allow a full and complete expression of your own life, the less you will compare what you have or who you are with others. You won’t need to.
Image: Monster Bokeh by Onyx-Tigeress via deviantart.com THANK YOU!