Simply put, being envious or jealous is toxic! Do you have folks in your life who are living their best retirement years–traveling, pursuing hobbies, socializing with good friends, enjoying leisure activities, or spending time with grands–do you find yourself resenting all of the good that is coming their way? Do you want, what they have? Both envy and jealousy are intricate emotions. However, while the emotions are complex, they are also unbelievably common. It’s safe to say that even the angels amongst us are susceptible to the behaviors.
And guess what? Living modestly, not flaunting your material possessions or status symbols doesn’t necessarily protect you from being targeted. When you possess certain enviable personal characteristics that garner attention—traits like charisma, creativity, or self-discipline—simply being yourself is enough to make some individuals resent you.
Are jealousy and envy the same?
It’s no fun to feel envy or jealousy because both make you feel totally inadequate.
Although folks tend to pair the two feelings they are actually not the same. Both emotions promote similar feelings within us, but they exist on different planes. When someone is jealous, there is a third party threatening what they consider to be theirs. Feelings that typically accompany the emotion include resentment, anger, hostility, and bitterness. The emotion can become unhealthy and negatively impact your relationships. It can range in intensity. When it’s severe, irrational jealousy can lead to distrust, paranoia, abuse, or even physical violence.
Envy is an emotion between just two people. When someone is envious they may be feeling a wide range of emotions, from anger, to skepticism, to embarrassment…and just about anything in between. When you are feeling envious, you simply want what someone else has. This could be in terms of looks, money, a love relationship, class, etc. An envious person feels sad when others achieve something or are happy. Envy isn’t just wanting what you don’t have; it’s hating, even just a little bit, those who do. Envy even makes you feel better when you’re better than someone else.
What are the effects of jealousy and envy?
- They contribute to discontent and distress.
- They bind our freedom.
- They lead to resentment and bitterness.
- They cause us to do things we wouldn’t normally do.
- They can spiral into depression.
Does aging affect how you feel?
Changes in jealousy or envy can develop as a person ages, but jealousy can change throughout a person’s lifetime, according to research.
A study, published in Basic and Applied Social Psychology, found that young folks tend to be jealous of others’ physical appearance and social status, but, once they begin to mature, the reasons for jealousy change. They become increasingly jealous of money and wealth and less envious of romantic relationships, social status, and looks. As a matter of fact, some 40 percent of participants under 30 years old said they envied others for their success in romance, while fewer than 15 percent of folks over age 50 had the same feelings, according to the study.
Is there a cure?
When folks realize that feelings of jealousy or envy are becoming overwhelming or causing problems in life, they may find exploring different therapies might be beneficial to help them understand and effectively manage their feelings.
Mindfulness techniques help you pay attention to your thoughts and feelings as they come up without judging or criticizing them. Increasing your awareness around jealousy or envy can help you notice any patterns they follow, including things that happen before you feel jealous or envious. Mindfulness can also help you feel more comfortable with jealousy or envy. For example, it can help you notice and accept your jealous or envious feelings for what they are — part of your emotional experience — and move on. Not judging the jealousy, envy, or yourself for feeling them can help keep them from affecting you negatively.
Psychotherapy is often an effective treatment for jealousy or envy. A person who experiences jealousy might benefit from working with a therapist to process painful emotions and reframe negative, damaging thoughts that affect their behavior.
Cognitive behavioral therapy may be used to help people work through jealous or envious feelings, as it may make it easier for people to identify underlying beliefs that contribute to those feelings. Temporary treatment with psychoactive drugs may also help jealousy or envy, but this approach is generally only used when jealousy or envy causes or is caused by other mental health conditions such as schizophrenia.
Practice letting go. A way to practice with jealousy or envy (and also greed, which is closely related) is to do a reflective meditation on a highly desirable object that you will nevertheless never possess. Find something beautiful and desirable—in a store, a store window, or in a museum. Sit or stand and admire the object for five minutes or more. Let the feelings of desire increase. Feel the longing to grasp and possess it. Now, simply let those feelings go. Abruptly let go! Embrace the object for what it is, brilliant, without needing to be possessed or protected by you.
If both jealousy or envy have held you hostage for far too long it is time, once and for all, to break free from them and experience a more fulfilled life because of it.
How jealous or envious are you?
Find out by taking the following quiz and BE HONEST with your emotions!
|1. Do I sometimes get satisfaction from putting people down?||Yes||No|
|2. Would I feel relieved if a colleague didn’t get promoted, even though I may like him or her?||Yes||No|
|3. Do I often think that others are better off than me?||Yes||No|
|4. Do I resent people who seem to have everything?||Yes||No|
|5. Do I feel diminished by someone’s beauty, brains, or accomplishments?||Yes||No|
|6. Am I afraid of people trying to outdo me?||Yes||No|
|7. Am I threatened by my mate’s past?||Yes||No|
|8. Am I bent out of shape when my mate looks at someone else?||Yes||No|
|9. Do I see my mate’s friends as rivals for my attention or affection?||Yes||No|
How to interpret this quiz
- If you had 0 yeses – You have very little jealousy or envy (or, you’re kidding yourself).
- If you had 1 yes – You have a small amount of jealousy or envy. Be aware that even one affirmative response gives you an opportunity to clear these emotions.
- If you had 2 yeses – You have a small amount of jealousy or envy.
- If you had 3 yeses – You have a moderate amount of jealousy or envy.
- If you had 4 yeses – You have a moderate amount of jealousy or envy.
- If you had 5 yeses – You have a moderate amount of jealousy or envy.
- If you had 6 yeses – You have a significant amount of jealousy or envy.
- If you had 7 yeses – You have a significant amount of jealousy or envy.
- If you had 8 yeses – You have a significant amount of jealousy or envy.
- If you had 9 yeses – You have a significant amount of jealousy or envy.
This quiz is excerpted from Emotional Freedom by Judith Orloff M.D.