Jealousy Is Not The Enemy

Could this abhorred emotion, actually, be one of life’s greatest assets?


Like you, I have always lived with jealousy. My first memory of it was in second grade, and her name was Sarah. She had perfect blonde ringlets and an enviable Beanie Baby collection.

I can also remember my most recent experience of jealousy. It was yesterday, after all. To cut a long story short, someone who doesn’t do much work at all, got a promotion. And that’s putting it politely.

It feels somewhat controversial to write this, but I get jealous pretty often. As I’ve gotten older, it’s lessened. But every now and again, sure enough, it rears its ugly head and with it comes a sense of shame.

We may not talk about it much, but you best believe it’s there. Because no matter how successful or beautiful or admired you become, jealousy comes along for the ride, too.

I know this because of my friends. Talented, smart and accomplished women, who whisper to me at dinner parties about the new girl in the office. The arrogant guy who breezes through life. Their boyfriend’s overly keen female co-worker.

We’ve been conditioned to think of our jealousy as an emotion we must suppress. Something to be buried. A feeling to be frowned upon. A seven deadly sin, a green eyed monster, a despicable trait. When my parents explained that my jealousy in second grade was wrong, I listened.

But my most recent experience of jealousy was different. I decided to analyse why exactly I was feeling the way I did. And by digging deeper, I came to a realisation: Jealousy isn’t the enemy. Jealousy is, in fact, one of the most insightful emotions we have.

If, as I did, you choose to delve a little deeper into your jealousy, I guarantee you’ll learn something new about yourself. Call it a break-through, if you will, without the hefty therapist bill. Because jealousy reveals the desires we didn’t know we had. The ones that you haven’t been ready to admit to yourself yet.

Jealousy shows you where you want to be. It reveals your next step. It helps you make the connections you otherwise wouldn’t, and it forces you to reflect on what you really want. It's never about the person, or the thing. It’s about you and your innermost hopes and dreams. When channelled correctly, it can even provide a competitive streak that propels us into productivity.

So the next time you feel jealous, ask yourself three quick questions:

  1. What am I *REALLY* jealous of? What do they have that I don’t? (Get granular here, people. Pinpoint exactly what it is).
  2. What does this say about my own hopes and dreams for my life?
  3. How can I channel my jealousy in a more constructive way?

Do the work and the insights will follow. They certainly did for me. Through asking myself the questions above, I realised that it wasn’t the promotion I was jealous of (heck, I don’t even want that job!). It was the recognition — forcing me to take a look at my own working situation, and consider changing it. Boom!

Jealousy is an opportunity to learn a little more about ourselves. Between you and me, I’m now almost excited to feel jealous again, albeit in small doses. Here’s to jealousy. May we feel it, may we embrace it, and may we start using it to our advantage.