I credit Jennifer James (cultural anthropologist, celebrity and motivational speaker) with one of the best summations of what it’s like for those of us who’ve ever battled feelings of jealousy.
“Jealousy is simply and clearly the fear that you do not have value. Jealousy scans for evidence to prove the point – that others will be preferred and rewarded more than you.”
Her words are powerful – speaking to the inner root of a hard to control emotion so many of us experience.
This overcomplicated and highly stereotypical society we now all live in has caused many to devalue the opinion they have of themselves. The media has identified what “is” and “is not” considered “acceptable” and thus we continually struggle to attain acceptance based on a set of criteria no one should be judged on.
It’s that set of poorly created criteria, I believe, that breeds jealousy in our homes and in the places we work.
When I was a shy, overweight and incredibly insecure teenage boy, all I wanted was what I perceived to be “normal” amongst my peers. I wanted to be liked for who I was, not what I looked like or what interests I enjoyed.
But that’s not reality I suppose, and soon the bullying and teasing reduce my personal value to next to nothing.
Jealousy became a part of my everyday existence. Everywhere I went I was constantly measuring myself up against somebody else who was better looking or more popular than I was. It became an unhealthy obsession – further eroding what little value I still had of myself.
James continues: “If you cannot love yourself, you will not believe that you are loved. You will always think it’s a mistake or luck.”
When I moved to Colorado from New Jersey, one of the greatest challenges I knew I would face was making new friends. Though professional counseling had enabled me to compartmentalize feelings of jealousy and inadequacy, the same old insecurities crept back up after years of effectively dealing with them.
I found myself again feeling jealous of others who seemed more established, seasoned and yes, even younger than I am now. When I did finally find myself making new friends, much like James remarked, I thought it was a “mistake”. After all, what interest would someone have in making friends with me? An inaccurate perception on my part.
It’s funny, when you’re removed from your comfort zone and your reality is a sea of unknowns, how quickly you can revert back to the old demons which once plagued your life.
James statement concludes: “Take your eyes off others and turn the scanner within. Find the seeds of your jealousy, clear the old voices and experiences. Put all the energy into building your personal and emotional security. Then you will be the one others envy, and you can remember the pain and reach out to them.”
No one’s life is perfect – void of the challenges and struggles which often make us stronger in the long run. Looking at others it’s easy to perceive their lives as being better than ours based on finances, social standing or appearance.
What’s important is to be happy with the person you are, the gifts you possess and the unique qualities which make you special.
Sameness is easily achieved, and longing for the life that someone else has is doing nothing but wasting your own. It’s a difficult lesson to learn and creeps back up from time to time, but a lesson worth remembering along the journey.