Jealousy is nothing more than our ego trying to exert its control. But we all get jealous Brian, don’t we? Actually, no, not everyone experiences jealousy as an emotion.
I don’t get jealous. Seriously: I don’t experience jealously as an emotion. Yes, I experience sadness, love, happiness, anger, remorse, surprise but not jealousy.
Why? Because, unlike our core emotions, we can choose to not experience jealousy.
While cycling through the USA and observing people getting jealous in myriad ways, I’m beginning to see a culture/nation riddled with jealousy, envy, and greed, all of which are by-products of ego, competitiveness, consumerism, and desire to find ones self-worth.
What’s worse is that it’s far more pernicious than we think. Competition breeds jealousy, though we often give it prettier labels like “competitive spirit” or “stick-to-itiveness” or “ambition.” Just think of the cyclists ego and need to pass someone. Given that – just think about how you feel when someone passes you in a car.
But the truth is that jealousy leads to certain cultural imperatives – what we commonly refer to as “keeping up with the Joneses.” (By the way, hilarious movie) Thus, we envy Mr. and Mrs. Jones for their money and large house and luxury cars and big boat and weekend retreat and fancy vacations and all the trappings of our heavily mediated society.
But of course we don’t get jealous solely over material possessions. We also get jealous over our relationships. We think our friends don’t spend enough time with us, our lovers don’t care about us as much as they should, our customers aren’t loyal enough. It all revolves around us: He doesn’t spend enough time with me. She doesn’t care enough about me.
We think this way because it’s hard to back away from ourselves, it’s hard to realize I am not the center of the universe.
There is good news, though. Like our televisions, we can chose to turn it off. We can choose to remove jealousy from our emotional arsenal. And like TV, it’s not always easy to turn off (taken from the guy who loves movies). But turning off jealousy can significantly improve one’s emotional health. Because, at the end of the day, jealousy is never useful. Many negative emotions can be useful – pain tells us something is wrong, fear tells us to look before we leap – but jealousy, no matter how jealous we get, will never help.
But how Brian?
The easiest way to turn jealousy off is to stop questioning other people’s intentions. We often get jealous because we think a person meant one thing by their actions, when they meant something totally different. And the truth is that you’ll never know someone’s real intent, so it’s a waste of time to question it.
If you’re struggling with questioning someone’s intent, you can do one of two things: Ask them what they meant by their actions or words. Or accept that you will never know their true intent, no matter how much you question it.
The bottom line with jealousy: you can turn it off. Jealousy is ugly: it is never a way to express we care – it’s only a channel through which we broadcast our insecurities. And believe me – a better life is waiting on the other side of jealousy. The side where ego doesn’t control your life.
By Brian Nadon