How to Cope with Jealousy – Overcome It with These Tips
Jealousy is a totally natural emotion to experience, but it is often thought of as a “bad” emotion. Technically, jealousy is feelings of fear, insecurity, and concern over a lack of something in your life.
As a woman and a mother, jealousy is something I have experienced regularly in my life, and for some women, it’s even the motivation for “keeping up with the Joneses“. (Did you know that the phrase “keeping up with the Joneses” dates back to 100 years ago?!)
People see what others have and feel insecure about their own possessions and accomplishments, so in order to not appear as a lower class family, people buy homes that are two big and fill it with stuff they don’t need. It’s the driving force behind the credit card debt problem we have in America… most people have about $6,000 in credit card debt!
For some of us (like me), if you ever expressed jealousy, you were probably told it’s bad to feel that way and to be grateful for what you have.
Both of these scenarios are actually harmful, so let’s talk about the root of jealousy, and how to overcome jealousy and insecurity.
Where Does Jealousy Come From?
Like so many other things in our modern world Including our metabolism and stress-response, jealousy evolved from our ancestors when we were hunter-gatherers.
It was an incredibly beneficial emotion back then, when everything was dangerous and survival of the fittest reigned true.
Having jealousy for something that someone else had was a good motivator for survival. It helped us become better, more thinking beings, and, coupled with our extra-large brains, helped us to climb quickly to the top of the food chain.
But jealousy can quickly turn into more complex, toxic emotions and behaviors, including anger, stealing, adultery, lying, greed, among others.
Jealousy itself is not inherently bad. It’s only when we let it consume us that it can turn bad.
Let’s say that again:
When felt as a separate emotion, jealousy is not necessarily a bad thing. Emotions are not good or bad unless you act on them and they become something new that they can actually be detrimental in your life.
So let’s examine a little bit about jealousy and why it’s not actually as bad as you think.
Jealousy Is Actually A Very Useful Emotion
Recognizing this jealousy in your life can be very enlightening. Once you have pegged the emotion you’re struggling with as jealousy, what path do you take?
Let’s take a look at 3 different ways that jealousy can actually be quite useful:
1. Jealousy can help us break our habit of feeling guilty
Raised in a Christian/Catholic world like a good portion of the US, I had been raised on guilt.
Feeling greedy? Guilt.
Don’t fit into your parents’ opinion of what your life should be? Guilt.
Feeling guilty? Guilt for feeling guilty too!
Sometimes the guilt is so worn into our lives that we don’t even recognize it. Jealousy is a very extraverted and obvious emotion (at least for me). So when I feel jealous, it’s really an opportunity for me to breathe, accept my emotions, and move on without experiencing the guilt.
For more info on guilt, shame, and overcoming your limiting beliefs, take a look at Brene Brown’s books:
2. Jealousy helps to tell us what we are lacking from our lives.
For example, I don’t ever look at another couple and envy what they have. Since meeting my husband, I never have and never will look at another man and wonder what life would be like with him instead.
That’s because my relationship with my husband is incredibly fulfilling and I feel no need to level up that are of my life! I’m already there!
However, I DO feel jealous when I see someone wearing an outfit that I would love to wear but can’t afford.
At this point, I know you are going to tell me to stop being so superficial. (Stop making me feel guilty!)
But it is OKAY to want quality items and comfort… in fact, I think it’s a part of the human condition! (See more about accepting jealous below.)
This is also an indication of being stuck in a scarcity mindset.
If we look at jealousy objectively, we can see what we are truly missing in our lives.
3. It’s a powerful motivator
I hardly doubt the human species could become so advanced and intelligent without the desire to out-do each other.
Competition isn’t necessarily the greatest thing in the world, and many times I wish there was less of it (especially when it comes to our kids and the pressures that are out on them).
But competition, especially of a more friendly variety, can help to propel us into positive change.
How to Overcome Jealousy and Insecurity
1. Name it
The very first step in any change is recognizing and naming something.
When we are teaching our toddlers to handle their temper tantrums, we might ask them, “what are you feeling right now?” With a little training, they might be able to recognize, “I am angry,” or “I am feeling sad.”
This is exactly the path we should take with ourselves.
Once you have labelled your emotion as jealousy, your real work then begins.
Say to yourself:
I’m feeling jealous.
Then take a breath.
When we acknowledge a potentially “bad” emotion, we take ownership of it and allow it to exist without allowing it to consume us.
This is a badass concept called “metacognition”.
2. Decide why you feel this way and accept it
First, let the emotion go and turn to your thinking brain. What caused you to feel jealous? Are you feeling insecurity, inadequacy, or some other lack that is causing you to feel jealous?
Usually jealous feelings stem from insecurities about ourselves and the inadequacies we feel exist in our lives. What kind of inadequacy are you feeling?
Like I stated above, it is a completely NORMAL and natural human reaction to want a life of comfort. There is absolutely no reason to feel guilty about that.
It is a normal reaction to question what your husband was doing at 2am texting.
Recognizing our jealousy is the first step to preventing ourselves from going down the rabbit-hole of doubt and hurtful actions.
Accepting our emotions helps us to be in a more positive frame of mind and not be overcome with the urge to act, which is the next step.
3. Decide what to do with it
In figuring out how to overcome jealousy, after you have recognized it, allowed it to exist without acting on it, next you have to decide what to do with it.
When you dive headfirst into an emotion like jealousy, it can cause unwanted effects, like all that debt we were talking about earlier, or suspicion, or pushing away those who are closest to you.
What kinds of things can you do to ease the root of your feeling?
If you are jealous because of feeling inadequate in your job, do you need to take more classes or go to a conference?
If you are jealous because she has a better relationship with her husband than you have with yours, do you need to communicate with your husband more? Do you need time to go out on dates and reconnect? Do you need to go to counseling to determine if the relationship is worth continuing?
Make sure what you choose to do is a healthy, constructive reaction to your feelings of insecurity.
3. Use Your Heart-brain
Next, you need to start feeling your change.
You need to feel more secure in your job. You need to feel more secure in your relationship.
There are several ways to do this.
First, you can start an affirmation practice.
Learn all about Affirmations here: What are Affirmations and How Do They Work?
Basically, you are programming your brain and body to feel content, secure, and adequate with powerful, positive statements that you declare to be true.
Another way you can feel differently is by practicing gratitude.
Gratitude is an important practice to any badass woman’s daily routine.
A woman who is out to kick ass in her life and wants the best for herself needs to always feel her best. Recognizing when you feel awesome and practicing those emotions with gratitude can help you to feel more positive.
I’m not advocating for toxic positivity, of course. But true optimism and positivity in your life can help bolster your confidence, achieve your goals, and knock it out of the park in all areas of your life!
I believe a gratitude practice is important for any independent, badass woman with an agenda.
So when you’re feeling jealous, know that, first, it’s okay to feel that way. Jealousy in itself is not a bad thing. Release the feelings of jealousy and focus on positive emotions like gratitude. And make sure you’re taking active steps to releasing the root cause of the jealousy, like talking to your husband, or taking some classes to feel more confident.
You DON’T have to get overwhelmed with thousands of dollars in credit card debt! There’s a better way!
What are some ways how to overcome jealousy.
Have you ever felt jealous of something someone else had?