The Reality of Envy and Jealousy.

I will admit it. I begin most of my days by scrolling through Facebook. Probably not the best way to start a day, but it’s what I do…And so like any other casual morning, I find myself lying in bed, scrolling. I scroll past reposted puppy dog photos. I scroll past statuses griping about “Dead Week”. I scroll past those annoying Victoria Secret and Under Armor ads. And then, I come across a photograph of my ex (let’s call him Brandon) and his supposed ex (she’ll get the name, Emily). Date posted? Yesterday evening. What are they doing? They are arm in arm, looking all close and comfortable with each other. -_-

I stop scrolling.

First of all, WTF. Secondly, I thought they were done seeing each other. Heck, they have already tried the let’s be in a relationship thing twice (once before me, and once after the loser dumped me might I add), I highly doubt the third time will be a charm. Before I know it, a wave of intense curiosity overwhelms me. My fingers turn into hyper active machines, clicking on my tiny phone screen left and right, hunting down what they’ve been up too, thinking that the small bits and pieces of information I collect from social media will surely amass to some reasonable assumption on exactly what the hell is going on here! And then suddenly I stop myself. Breath, Heather. Okay, I need to chill. I tap out of Facebook, and pretend that all of that didn’t just happen. I continue my morning routine and my day resumes.

I blame these actions on one thing: Envy.

This is a tough one to write about. I feel as if it’s almost taboo to even talk about it, because you are taught at a very young age that emotions such as envy and jealousy are a big, fat no-no. However, what we are not discussing is that these emotions are something that everyone experiences at some time or another. I believe these “sinful” feelings should be openly talked about more, which is why I have decided to dedicate a whole blog post about it!

First off, is there a difference between envy and jealousy?

Now I am no psychologist. In fact, I only had to take 4 psychology courses to declare a minor! However, I do believe that envy and jealousy are two different things. I think the biggest difference between envy and jealousy is that jealousy often leads to deep rooted resentment toward others, and even yourself. Envy occurs when you see someone experiencing something that you desire, but don’t already have.  It’s the notion of, “Hey you have something I want. I don’t have it. I wish I did.”  But that’s as far as it goes. For example, David may see that his peer, Jessica, received an A on a chemistry exam, while he received a B. He envies her score, but doesn’t believe that she should have also received a low score simply because he did not get the score he wanted. On the other hand, jealousy is similar to envy in that you desire what others have, however you also believe that because you don’t have it, they shouldn’t either. Jealousy can be powerful, since jealous mind sets lead to resentment. And even if those negative thoughts do not turn into negative actions, the negative feelings are still there, brewing inside one’s mind.

Why does jealousy even happen in the first place?

I strongly believe that jealousy is derived from one’s own self-critical thoughts that lead to assumptions. Going back to the exam score example, after seeing his lower score, David may feel that he is not as intelligent as Jessica. In my case, I feel as if Brandon has chosen Emily over me. Leading me to potentially assume I am less qualified of a friend, perhaps even partner, than her. All these instances prove that we are our own biggest self-critics. We subconsciously conjure up irrational conclusions based on fragmented evidence. The jealous mind set then arises when these conclusions are associated to aspects of your life that you already feel insecure about. There are two things important to note here:

  1. The ideas you have resorted to after feeling jealous are potential assumptions.
  2.  These negative assumptions lead us to feel an almost intrinsic shame about ourselves afterward.

It is then the shame we feel that leads us to resent others. Resentment is terrible for the soul, since literally the only thing it affects is you. As the hatred you have for someone else bubbles inside of you, the one that you spite continues to live their life, peacefully.

Can anything positive come from feeling envy or jealousy?

After we have made up our minds that we are less than those that we compare ourselves too, we don’t stop to think: Exactly what makes them so much better? We simply run with our assumptions, and live with the belief that we aren’t good enough. The thought will slowly dissipate from our minds, until something else triggers it to resurface. With that said, feelings of envy and jealousy may lead to positive outcomes, though I believe that envy is easier to overcome. Those who are envious, do not spite those they envy; Therefore, it is easier for them to let go of their egos for a second. David might ask Jessica, “Hey that last exam was so difficult! How did you score so high on it?” In this situation, David is revealing his insecurity that he is dissatisfied with his score, yet he doesn’t feel shame and sees the advantage in asking someone he views as successful.

On the other hand, if one feels jealousy, they are incapable of checking their egos at the door, until they recognize that they actually possess resentment for who they are jealous of and also the shame that they feel about themselves. One way to dissolve jealousy is to ask yourself: Why am I so jealous of this person anyway? Essentially, what makes them so much better than me? If you honestly answer this question, figuring out how to pick yourself up from this negative experience will be much easier. Your answer may reveal that, in fact, the one you are jealous of is quite impressive and you could learn a few things from them. Maybe you really can’t think of one reason why they are better. You then come to the sound conclusion that your jealousy is really a result of your own self-doubt, and that there is really nothing to be jealous of!

Now, jumping back to the situation that started this whole blog post: Brandon and Emily. At one point in this whole love triangle fiasco, I will admit, I was jealous of Emily. After breaking up with me, Brandon got back together with her, and yeah, that didn’t sit well with me. I’d repeatedly ask myself: What does she have that I don’t?! At the time, my answer was… everything. I slept through many nights with the thought that I was inferior to her. I felt shameful of my decision to love Brandon. As time passed, I continued to ask myself the same question, “What does she have that I don’t?” And then one morning, I found myself sitting with a different response. She really doesn’t have anything more outstanding than what I have, she is just simply different from me. Different people are attracted to different things. After discovering that realization, I was able to live with Brandon’s choice to leave me, as well as my choice to let myself fall for him. I no longer was jealous of Emily. However, that does not mean thoughts of envy don’t creep in every so often. This morning was a prime example of that.

If I knew a magical spell to eliminate envy and jealousy, I’d let you in on the secret, but as you may have guessed, I know of no such spell. All I can say is that we should not be ashamed of feeling envy or jealousy, but that we should recognize when we are feeling this way. And that no matter what, as long as you are satisfied with your own actions and the life you have created for yourself, that’s all that truly matters.

Let’s raise our glasses to jealousy! Cheers!

Until next time,
Heather Mei



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