On Jealousy: Where it Comes from and How to Let it Go
Jealousy isn’t an easy topic to discuss about. This is an emotion so ugly that we rather sweep it under the rug. We can say something so silly such as: “I hate her. I don’t know why I can’t help but hating her.” However, we almost can never admit “I’m jealous of her success and beauty.”
It is true, isn’t it?
Whether we want to confront it or not, jealousy remains one of the most human emotions of all. That’s why it’s important to understand jealousy, to take it out from under the rug and study it, and hopefully slowly discard it out of our home.
I had big jealousy problem. And for a long time I’d shamed myself for being jealous of others. I knew very well that it was not good. But I couldn’t help it. No matter how hard I try, I couldn’t think or rationalize myself out of jealousy. And condemning myself for having it just brought extra guilt.
That’s why the first thing to be clear about is that: it’s really not our fault that we are jealous of others. The seed of jealousy was planted in our head during our upbringing.
In my childhood, there were countless of times my mother compared me with the neighbor’s daughter. She would say, half-jokingly, “Look at that daughter of the neighbor! She studies so well. Maybe I should adopt her!” There were countless of time I saw my parents comparing our family and our wealth with that of the others.
How many times did the adults in your childhood said to you: “You are wonderful. I love you.”? How often do you say the same thing to yourself?
Neither can we blame ourselves, nor can we blame our parents. Their parents did the same thing to them. Ask your parents about their childhood. You will see how afraid they were and how frightened they still are. They teach us only what they know. But we need to find a way to dissolve jealousy from our own psyche. Only then we will be free and happy. Only then our work will be good.
We hold limiting believes. Because for many of us, happiness is not as important as certainty and righteousness, we walk around in life creating situations that validate our believes. This is not our fault; we didn’t know better. But it’s time to face what has held us back. They are:
I’m never enough.
Other people is out to get me.
The world is constantly comparing me with my peers.
When I have as much money/power/fame/respect/beauty… as him/her, I will feel safe, loved, and happy.
I will be worse off if others are better off.
Life is nothing but a race.
When you contemplate these thoughts, they explain many unhealthy emotions and actions. Neither do they make you feel good, nor do they make your day productive. Besides, what good do these thoughts bring to the world? Look around and we will see all the turmoil in the world we are living in is the consequence of the race for power, wealth, fame of nations, driven by powerful individuals.
But there is a way out of it. You can heal yourself. The following situation will show how I’ve healed mine. If you are feeling resistant or skeptical, totally great! Don’t believe in anything you are not ready to believe. I’m only asking you to stay open, curious. Try it out instead of rejecting my suggestion out of hand. We must be the ultimate experts and consultants of our own life. Give that expert an experience. Find it out for yourself.
I learn yoga at the fitness center close to my house every day. There I got to know a sister. In her 30s, she is one of the fittest center’s members that I saw. She really pays a lot of attention to her body. Her training is very diverse, from aerobic to weight and yoga, while I only do yoga. She asked me from times to times for fitness tips and she wasn’t convinced that yoga is enough for body transformation. When I mentioned the mind-altering benefits of yoga. She insisted that those benefits are not real, and that I’m happy simply because I’m too young to have problems to deal with. (She didn’t know that I don’t have problems because I don’t create problems in the first place. I don’t see life situations as problems and don’t give them power to steal my happiness.)
Nevertheless, my subconscious grew jealous. I caught myself comparing my body with hers. I caught my heart closing and chest tightening when I bump into her. I caught myself avoiding her. The energy changed whenever she was in my sight. I noticed this and I wanted to dissolve this unhealthy feeling.
One day, I was in the middle of the yoga class when she entered the studio and joined us. Immediately I found myself being self-conscious. I felt as if she was watching me closely and judging my postures. Did I mention that she was physically very good at yoga? Almost as strong as I was, but 3times more flexible. Thus, my attention drifted away from my center. I didn’t look straight at her but I somehow observe her through the corner of my eyes. Next, I began to reach a little too far, stretch a little too much. I wasn’t nudging my body limits with tenderness as I should. I was forcing my way through and risked getting injured, because I wanted to show her, and prove myself.
Luckily, I noticed all of these reactions. It’s all about noticing and awareness. I knew that getting lost in jealousy would cost me. I also knew that fighting it back, resisting it, or suppressing it never works – because these are just other ways of clinging. My only way to dissolve jealousy is to let it go. Here is how I did it:
I stop judging myself for being jealous.
I accept jealousy as a basic human emotions. Everybody has it. So jealousy doesn’t make me a bad person.
I remove my consciousness away from it. I take a step back and observe this feeling, while paying attention to my breaths.
With each breath, I relax and release. As if I’m opening my heart and releasing the tightness at my chest.
I remind myself that I’m wonderful and I’m enough.
“What you resist will persist. What you befriend you can transcend,” this is a very wise saying. So I was there on the yoga mat, smile on my face, moving into various postures, paying attention to my breaths, observing my jealousy. Slowly, I was lifted upward from my negative energy field. My heart opened; the lightness came back to my chest. It worked. The remaining of the yoga session I was ecstatic. As I removed the jealousy that blocked my energy, the positive vitality was surging in me. I felt so full, so loved. One more thorn of jealousy has been removed from my heart. I’m one step closer to freedom.
The only thing that matters is to grow from the life experiences that unfold on our path. Growing is not a race either. Sometimes my chest tightens as I saw others have cool experiences, blossom and succeed. This is a reaction out of my control.
What helps me is the thought that I have my own potentials and you have yours. We work toward fulfilling our potentials. And because each of us is so unique. We were born with different temperaments and qualities, shaped by different experiences, confronted by different circumstances. Our potentials are so different from each other. We don’t have the same Finish line at all. There is really no competition at all.
We are flowers of the same dandelion flower head. Reaching out in our own unique directions. Together, our journeys make the world whole. If we understand this when we are young, our youth will not be squandered by the meaningless race we create in our head.
It’s not our business to compare or judge, it’s our business to simply do our best. It’s our business to use this one short, precious life to care about the only thing that matters: to live, to love, to be free, to raise ourselves to our highest potentials, and to leave this world a little better than when it first embraced us in its body.