Jealousy is usually an unacknowledged emotion

Jealousy or envy is a rather common emotion but is usually the most neglected. Nobody likes being a jealous person. We may accept that we are somewhat depressed, angry and even irritable. But jealous? No. That doesn’t sound right.

As always we can begin to overcome jealousy by understanding it. Jealousy is usually born when someone has something and we don’t. The first reaction is that of a unsettling feeling of becoming small, of being diminished. This shrinking feeling becomes intolerable. To get rid of this emotion some of us take to criticism. We explain to ourselves or people who are willing to listen to us, why the other person was wrong in buying that new house, or the new car. If it is a matter of looks or talents, we dismiss it by saying, “Ah, that person is too much into her looks” or “This person is always showing off her singing skills.” or “What use is his music if he cannot earn a living”. Criticism helps us temporarily avoid the pain of being less than the other.

Some of us take this to an extreme – sabotage. This is quite common at work, where one person, usually a superior, apprehends the work of a junior and passes it off as one’s own. Or employs subtle subterfuge to discredit the work of someone who has done a decent job. The extreme version of this is to physically harm the person. We see this in some extreme cases where a beautiful person is attacked or harmed. Or for instance, some valued object is purloined from someones house.

Jealousy destroys us for the simple reason that it keeps us other focused. We use our energies to criticise, discredit, damage, steal or hurt the other in varying degrees. This depletes our energy and diminishes our potential. This, however needn’t be the case. The next time you feel jealous. Arrest your mind from morphing into criticism. Pay great attention to your feeling. Especially the feeling of not being good enough. The feeling of being small. Take great care not to compensate this feeling by making plans to work harder, to make your travel reservation immediately, or to start fantasising of how you could also be the next great musician. Be wary of any measure by the mind to compensate this sense of diminishment. Go to the raw emotion sans the story.

This is the hardest part – to be with the raw sensation without giving way to thinking. When the intensity of the emotion abates, we can begin to come back to thinking to reframe this emotion. Understand that it matters to us that our best friend bought a new house, because we also want a house. Understand that it matters to us that our cousins went on a foreign vacation, because deep down we too have been yearning for a vacation but haven’t been able to afford one. Jealousy stems from a desire that we ourselves have, but have not come around to recognising it, accepting it and acting on it.

Jealousy is valuable when used properly. It shows us our deepest cravings. We are human and these are normal. When we can become aware of the existence of the desire and accept it, we can begin the process of working hard to achieve it. You will notice that the minute we shine the light of awareness of the existence of the desire and honour it, it’s grip on us wanes significantly. We shift the emotion from jealousy to pure desire. Pure desire is an important source of energy for actions. From here, we can begin the process of planning to get to what we want – be it the holiday, the car, a house or a new job. We move from the other to the self.

Therefore, the next time you feel jealous – pause, observe and understand that behind this powerful emotion is a message that is telling you “This is what you want”.

The sun sinks into the Pacific. Montara, California.

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