Is Jealousy Healthy?
Discover the untapped power of the green-eyed monster
This article isn't just about romantic jealousy. It's about all jealousy. Don't believe you're a jealous person? Here's a quick experiement: Think of a celebrity you dislike. We all have them. For one reason or another, they make your skin crawl, they’re universally loved but you just can’t get on board.
Chances are, even if you can’t put your finger on it, what you dislike about them is what you dislike about yourself.
Your weaknesses are reflected in them, back to you. Perhaps they’re not even ashamed of it as you are. How dare they be so at ease with something that makes you feel so insecure?
This is jealousy.
Jealousy is more pervasive and wide-ranging than insecurity about a romantic partner.
More often than not, jealousy is directed at those who are doing something you perceive you can’t do. Or won’t do.
What type of things? Writing. Acting. Business success. Popularity. Jealousy directed at people simply because they dare to be at peace with their imperfections. These people make you feel bad by existing, reminding you of your own flaws and fears.
On the surface, jealousy is always justified; you’re not jealous of your friend, they’re just full of themselves, you’re not jealous of your boss, they’re just egotistical, you’re not jealous of a writer or artist, their work is just overrated.
It’s no wonder Shakespeare said jealousy mocks the flesh it feeds upon.
But it isn’t all bad news. Jealousy can be used as a force of good.
Each jealous feeling is a giant billboard telling you what to do with your life. It’s a clear signal in a world of noise.
As author Margaret Atwood noted:
“You can only be jealous of someone who has something you think you ought to have yourself.” – Margaret Atwood
Jealousy shows you what you ought to have. It’s a compass, an arrow pointing to your true north.
Examine your jealousy. Spot it in the people of whom you are most critical, hunt it down in the moral objections you have towards individuals or art. There you will find jealousy, wearing the mask of rationality. There you will find instruction.
Ask yourself, are you jealous of Usain Bolt for being the fastest runner in the world? I doubt it. What about Paul McCartney for being in The Beatles? Probably not.
But are you jealous of an actor who went to your school? A friend who is now a published writer? An acquaintance whose stand up comedy career took off? Do any of these make your stomach tighten or do you reserve an odd derision for these individuals? Do you call them names behind their back?
Oh boy, there’s your signpost, all right. Lit up in neon lights.
In her bestselling book ‘The Artist’s Way’, Julia Cameron talks about this in detail. She writes:
“Jealousy is a map. Each of our jealousy maps differ. Each of us will probably be surprised by some of the things we discover on our own. I, for example, have never been eaten alive with resentment over the success of women novelists. But I took an unhealthy interest in the fortunes and misfortunes of women playwrights. I was their harshest critic, until I wrote my first play. With that action my jealousy vanished, replaced by feelings of camaraderie.” — Julia Cameron, ‘The Artist’s Way’
Inside each of us is a calling. When we stray from that calling, we feel incongruence. That internal friction comes out as many things, addiction, anger, fear, jealousy.
The “I could have been a contender” cliché exists because feeling like we could have — or should have — been more than we are is universal.
A large part of suffering is not being everything you could be and knowing it.
Jealousy red flags incongruence and signposts where you need to go. It cuts through everything, the fear, the denial, the excuses, and mainlines into your authentic self.
Jealousy itself isn’t authentic, but it sure shows you what is.
“To cure jealousy is to see it for what it is, a dissatisfaction with self.” – Joan Didion
To cure jealousy, you must find it, hunt down and tear off its rational mask. Once it has been exposed, listen to its lament and follow its instruction.
Your subconscious knows you better than you know yourself. Let it show you the way.
Don’t fight or deny what jealousy tells you. It’s tapping into a deeper part of who you are. A part with which you are unfamiliar. Merely listen, it is wise, it will point you towards your calling. It is the calling. And you must follow it no matter how scary, else be doomed to live in bitterness.
Don’t fear jealousy, thank it for showing you the way. It’s a stepping stone to becoming who you know you can be.
Spiritual teacher Peter Deunov noted:
“You are jealous because you are unaware that everything you need is inside you.” – Peter Deunov
Find your jealousy. Feel it. Read the signs. Listen to the instruction. It’s lighting a path you’re meant to be walking.
Jealousy isn’t weakness. It’s information. It’s a result of incongruence, it’s a symptom of hiding from who you are meant to become. Remember, this is your destiny. You wouldn’t be called if it wasn’t within you.
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