We all experience it from time to time, whether it’s due to a friend’s house purchase, a colleague’s promotion, or a competitor’s fundraising round – the uncomfortable feeling that sits in our stomach and overshadows our joy for them. As a human behavioural expert, doctor John Demartini has been interested in the effect of jealousy and envy ever since he began touring the country, presenting a self-development seminar and realising how many people suffer from it. But, rather than teaching clients to banish these emotions, the bestselling author and coach helps them to use both to their advantage. Here’s how.
Identify the difference
Understanding the difference between jealousy and envy is the first step to overcoming those feelings and achieving a more empowered sense of self. Envy is based on your perception that somebody has something that you don’t have, that you want or desire, for instance money, or success or an amazing relationship or social influence. Desiring is similar to envy; you want something that you believe another person has. The difference is that jealousy is based on a perception of your potential loss to a rival, somebody, from the fear of having something taken away from you, whilst envy occurs when you simply desire something another person has.
“Jealousy can be used as a tool to awaken within you the awareness of the traits that you are currently denying that you have.”
Make it work for you
Envy can make you discover what you are denying within yourself and jealousy can kick you in the butt to discover that you already have. They can each be used as a tool for self awareness. Consider this: if you never felt jealous, you may not feel the need to grow and expand. Instead, accept jealousy has benefits. It can help you achieve a greater version of yourself. By keeping you on your toes you can use these emotions to strive to awaken to, or create, a greater you. If that means you want to upskill at work to ensure you beat your colleagues for the next round of promotions, you ensure you do what it takes to achieve that goal, or to realise that you already have something great to offer and finally honour it. When you value you, so does the world.
Be self aware
Jealousy can be used as a tool to awaken within you the awareness of the traits that you are currently denying that you have. As long as you play small by comparison and live in the shadows of others, you will negotiate away many of your greatest opportunities in life. But once jealousy forces you to reflect and empower yourself, once you begin to stand on the shoulders of giants and recognise that whatever you perceive in others you have to the same degree, you can break through the limitations of playing small and use jealousy to your greatest advantage. Nothing is missing in you. Jealousy shows you where you are playing underdog to someone and gives you an opportunity to empower that area of your life.
“Consider this: if you never felt jealous, you may not feel the need to grow and expand.”
It’s okay to compare
Once you’re self aware it is actually wise to compare your daily actions to your own specific prioritised goals and intentions more than constantly comparing yourself to others. Others have different values and are not you. You won’t be the greatest other. You will only be the greatest you. The magnificence of who you truly are is greater than any fantasy you will ever impose on yourself. Instead of putting people on pedestals or in pits, it is wiser to put them in your heart. Equanimity and equity is wiser than exaggerating or minimising them or you. Attempting to imitate others will be self-defeating. Discover that whatever you unwisely admire in them, you already have. You only admire things in others that you already possess, but you are still too humble to admit it.
3 steps to empower your envy
You only envy people with traits, actions, or inactions that you admire or are infatuated with. So, to reduce the infatuation or admiration, consider answering the following three questions.
1. Ask yourself, what specific trait or action do you perceive this envied person displays or demonstrates that you’re infatuated with, admire, desire, or envy most? Precisely define what you envy.
2. Identify where and when you demonstrate the same or similar specific trait. You only envy them when you are too humble to admit that you have the same trait, action, or inaction within yourself that you envy or admire. Nothing is missing in you.
3. Then ask yourself, what are the specific drawbacks, downsides or negatives of this specific trait, action, or achievement in order to take it off the pedestal and no longer infatuate with, or envy, it? Nobody’s life is perfect, after all.