How to Deal with Jealousy

Shobha was a mid-aged business executive struggling to keep her business afloat. In the neighborhood lived Shaikh who was relatively junior, energetic, and seemingly bright. She approached him stating business interests, and they tried to forge a partnership. The venture could not take off.

Shaikh took the loss and started afresh. He put in all his energy, acumen, and intellect into the new upstart. It took him a while but with persistence, he made a decent living out of it. Shobha kept on trying multiple things with multiple other partners without much luck. All this while, she silently kept following him. It became difficult for her to digest the success of her aide.

The demon of jealousy would consume every inch of her body. An incessant fire kept burning away all her reason leaving hatred, irrational anger, and resentment. She could not suppress her feelings, with all her claws and fangs she never missed an opportunity to make things difficult for Shaikh or his business. Initially she tasted a bit of success with her theatrics, but it is impossible to trick, and manipulate people all the time. Gradually all her ploys started hitting back at her.

Shobha lost all her business and remained perenially frustrated, while Shaikh learned the finer nuances of dodging unhealthy competition and kept prospering. The neighborhood community eventually realized the pretense of the lady. She now had nowhere to hide her face. Time gradually passed and she died a silent death depressed and dejected, suffering till the last second from the self-inflicted pain.

The great Kannada poet and philosopher D. V. Gundappa in his most notable work Mankuthimmana Kagga writes about jealousy, which translates to:

Realising that the problem of filling up the stomach alone is not enough,

He has kindled the spark of jealousy in a man’s tummy.

A wolf (which is notorious for its hunger) may sleep with a filled stomach,

but O Man, you start grieving,

looking at others (even after filling yours).

Jealousy is the byproduct of our discontentment. When we start comparing our shortcomings to the success of others we fail to see the good things in our lives and enter into a vicious circle, where we intend to create trouble for others, but end up getting trapped in our misdeeds.

In this article, we interview experts to arrive at pointers on acknowledging and dealing with jealousy to live a more productive life for self and peers.

jealousy

“Jealousy is a natural emotion. One must first acknowledge it and accept it. This acceptance can lead to deeper questions of the underlying cause - Why?

Assuaging jealousy involves three parts:

  • Acknowledge the gaps one has between oneself and the object of jealousy - maybe someone has something we don’t.

  • Flip the narrative: what can one be grateful for instead? - maybe we have something too!

  • Find a way to give back to them - maybe we can share what we have and pay it forward”

- Nithya J. Rao

“I believe that the first step is to understand that there is no right or wrong way to feel when it comes to jealousy - the feelings may be there, and it would be important to recognize and address them.

Jealousy can be used to help individuals look at their insecurities and explore why their needs are being unmet. It can be used to help individuals self-reflect on their actions and thoughts which can lead to the “clearing the air”.

Nevertheless, jealousy can get out of control and turn into anger and envy if it is not addressed early. If a person is feeling jealous, one would hope that things are addressed in a timely fashion so feelings and emotions can return to a calm state as soon as possible.”

- Robert Beach

“I would think of dealing with jealousy as more of emotional management. The emotion of jealousy or feeling jealous at its very root has a sense of competition. This concept has been conditioned into our mindset since a very young age, the concepts of competition - winning and losing. Though it has value in some spheres like sports to encourage performance, its fallouts are many.

The basic concept of competition values results and not effort. This in turn affects our self-esteem. If you win it boosts your confidence and if you lose it brings you down.

The concept of jealousy has in it an inherent state of comparison, which leads to hurting our self-esteem and confidence. It makes a person feel that a lot is not available to them, leading to envy, jealousy, anger, or sadness.

It’s important to reflect and understand which of our emotional needs are unmet which brings about this feeling of jealousy or envy. I believe the more we understand ourselves the more confident we get. If we can understand this we are empowered to deal or manage our emotions more effectively.”

- Varsha Patkar

“I think jealousy is one of those emotions that we seek to suppress and in doing so we often struggle to be open and honest about how we feel. There is nothing wrong with a jealous emotion - we simply need to acknowledge it and deal with it openly and honestly - talking about the things that make us jealous is a better way of dealing with it - than pretending it simply doesn’t occur - because that way it will reoccur again and again.”

- Nigel Cadman

“Jealousy is evidence of our insecurity and self-doubt (no baby is born with self-doubt) when we learn to believe that our value is determined by another’s opinion or behavior. It isn’t.

Jealousy is based on wanting something (or someone) that someone else has AND not wanting them to have it. Envy is based on wanting something (or someone) that someone else has AND it being Ok they have it. Envy is a compliment. Jealousy is an attack.”

- Rob Pennington

“As a practitioner, I’d suggest first deconstructing jealousy

  • identify the triggers,

  • identify ‘why’ those triggers make them jealous,

  • explore their life experiences to understand how they learned to be jealous.

Once those steps are achieved then learn to reconstruct perspectives, coping skills, and ultimately self-regulation/management.

As the person who may struggle with jealousy or managing my jealousy, I should explore the root of my jealousy (e.g., low self-esteem, unmet emotional needs, poor relationships with primary caregivers) and identify the contexts in which I get jealous and am unable to manage that jealousy.

- Danny Ray Crum Jr

“Jealousy often is stirred up from the past experiences of which we might have received negative responses. The negative response often stays in the psyche of the person for a long time. making the person vulnerable and sensitive towards corrections. This increases insecurity and negative competitiveness.

What can we do?

  • Recognizing your triggers - According to Daniel Siegal, if we identify our SIFT- Sensations, Images, Feelings, and Thoughts we can recognize whether our emotions and present event is being clubbed with an experience.

  • Being Compassionate - towards oneself, although accepting and acknowledging being jealous can often be extremely difficult. As many times feeling hopeless or there might be an inner critic.

  • Calm Down - taking a few deep breaths before voicing out opinions often helps with the triggers to act out on impulse.

  • Journaling our thoughts and emotions help us sort out our biases and provides a newer perspective.

  • Sharing our problems with someone you trust develops a sense of security, provides emotional support for oneself.”

  • Bhakti Joshi

“Jealousy is usually seen as a negative emotion.

It’s important to know the difference between Envy & Jealousy. Envy is what we feel when we don’t have something that the other person has, whereas Jealousy is experienced when we feel threatened to lose something/someone to a third person. Envy may not need a third person but jealousy does require a third person.

Few things that you can do to address this so it doesn’t harm you or your relationships.

  • Acknowledge the existence. Please note, that you are not your feelings. So when you say “I am feeling jealous” instead of “I am jealous”, you are not letting your emotion take charge.

  • Take a step back and reflect on whether there are any unmet needs. Are you feeling neglected? Are you losing something?

  • Am I asking for my needs to be met?

  • Communicate what you are feeling.

If you could speak to someone try speaking in the following format :

“I am feeling jealous because_____. When I see _____happening, I feel _. It is a bit difficult for me to share this but I am hoping you can help me with this emotion. I want to be able to.”

- Shreya Sharma

“Jealousy is a strong emotion. One needs to first understand what causes that jealousy. The next step is to understand how the individual is affected by that jealousy and as a consequence what are the response actions are those response actions relevant or impulsive without thought. Lastly, is jealousy a recurring pattern or emotion for someone, if so why?

Based on the responses to all of this, then a plan can be created to help the person navigate the jealousy.

Emotions cannot be managed. They can be navigated and worked upon..it is completely okay to feel jealous. We just need to ensure that jealousy doesn’t take control and affect our actions.”

- Harshika Ramasubramanian

“Jealousy is the nature of a person to envy another for a quality which they do not possess but find the other person doing it.

Why should we make ourselves jealous of the other? The answer comes with the realization that we do not understand our strengths and weakness, there is a void in our understanding of ourselves.

Look in the mirror and accept the beauty of the person that you are looking at, you may be fat, thin, tall, short, dark, fair, or anything else. What you have is a gift that you need to recognize and see the strengths in yourself to make the world a better place for you to live in.

The next time you feel jealous of someone, motivate yourself to be a better person for yourself!”

- Roshan D’souza

“Jealousy is a natural instinctive emotion which is experienced when one feels in any relationship be it a girlfriend-boyfriend relationship. Siblings, friends, or between spouses.

For example, a boyfriend may feel jealous of his girlfriend who gets more attention from others compared to him, or when a girlfriend feels jealous of losing her boyfriend because of a third person. The person who feels jealousy goes through complex emotions/feelings ranging from suspicion to anger to fear to humiliation.

Jealousy often happens in a romantic relationship where one partner feels insecure about losing the other partner because of another person’s presence. This sense of jealousy which is instinctive can lead to conflicts in a relationship and therefore, it would be important to manage jealousy otherwise it can be torturous not only for the person who experiences it but it can damage the relationship.

First, if anyone is experiencing jealousy, then it is first important to recognize the emotion and accept that ‘Yes, I am feeling jealous’ Depending on how secure and comfortable a person feels in discussing the experience of jealousy with the other person and openly admitting the insecurity of losing the loved one so that through open communication any differences in the relationship can be sorted.

If this is not possible then one has to provide self-assurance that if he or she is important to the other person then the relationship will stay strong and if not then it will break. It is better to be in a secure and strong relationship than to be in a relationship where a person constantly fears losing the other person.

It is important to understand that we may all experience jealousy but the degree to which it varies depends on many factors like a person’s personality, support system, and coping ability of a person to handle jealousy. You need to understand when you do experience jealousy and then consciously work on coping which can either make or break a relationship.”

- Shrity Sharan

“The first step is to identify triggers for one’s jealousy. Whether it is a promotion of a colleague or a new car a friend bought - what has triggered that feeling of jealousy. Once identified, one may introspect - why was I triggered? Is it because I want that promotion or do I want that car?

If yes, what have I done so far to get those? If one understands the work that has been put behind someone’s success, it would be easier to pave the way for working towards it rather than feeling unaccomplished and jealous.

Another situation could be where there’s hardly a way to work for, for example, the looks of another person. Introspection here should be more about what makes me happy, what value can I add, and what would be my niche. In the end, it’s all about finding that contentment with yourself. Working towards that may gradually diminish the jealousy towards the outside world.”

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