How Jealousy Helps Us

I always thought jealousy was a bad emotion. I thought being jealous of someone else was wrong.

I’ve since come to understand that jealousy is actually a very helpful emotion. It isn’t selfish to feel jealous. It’s a normal reaction and a healthy one, if properly responded to.

Jealousy is our compass toward what we want and need on a deep level.

When we are jealous of someone, we want what they have. And though we may scold ourselves, jealousy is mirroring back to us our own desires.

This doesn’t mean if we see an expensive car and become jealous that we need an expensive car in our lives. Look deeper. What does the car signify? Status? The thrill of the ride? Financial security? What is it that calls to you?

Maybe you’re jealous of someone’s happiness. That doesn’t mean you want to rob them of their joy or wish they didn’t have it. But it may mean happiness is something you’re craving, and once you realize that, you can say, “Huh. I haven’t been very happy lately. Is there anything I can do to shift that?”

Jealousy points to areas of personal growth. Maybe you’re jealous of someone’s confidence or romantic relationship or hair style.

If we look underneath, we might find we lack confidence, that we aren’t sure about our relationship or about ourself, or that we don’t like the way we look. Jealousy often points to a lack that we can then address.

Jealousy helps us keep tabs on how full our internal fulfillment meter is. For myself, I get jealous of those who are confident in themselves, calm, and centered. I used to feel bad about that—or bad about how I measured up against this person who had all the things I longed for. When I began to realize jealousy was showing me where I needed to work on myself and what my deepest self longed for, I began to consider it a positive. Now I know I crave deeper confidence, calmness, and centeredness in my own life, and although I don’t have these things yet, I know what areas to bring my attention to as far as self-growth.

Now there may be times where jealousy mirrors back to you how unsatisfied you feel, and instead of asking you to fill a need such as gaining more confidence or working toward better financial security, it may be asking you to practice gratitude. If you feel jealous of someone who has an expensive car and always dresses elegantly, stop and evaluate. Maybe you find that you enjoy elegance and expensive things. There’s no problem with that. Maybe you find you want the confidence or power or the attention. Maybe you want to be noticed. The key is to look beneath the material item (keeping in mind that sometimes, yes, the material item is something you long for and have perhaps been afraid to wish for or work toward) and see what need is asking to be filled. You may not be able to afford the car now, and maybe you realize it isn’t about the car at all. Maybe you feel as if no one pays any attention to you. No one respects you. The good news is those are things you don’t need money to begin changing. You can move toward those needs now and begin filling them from within yourself.

Jealousy is a mirror. Whenever you notice it, look deeper. What do you need? What craves to be filled? Instead of using jealousy as a weapon to bring someone into the unsatisfied state you are in, how can you use it as a tool to bring yourself into deeper fulfillment?

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