Ouch! Do we have to address both envy and jealousy?!?!? These are two concepts that most of us are just not comfortable talking about. But not talking about it is not the key to understanding it, exploring the issue is. So… here we go!
All of us have experienced some form of envy and/or jealousy from time to time, whether or not we want to admit it. Whether it’s an experience with your younger cousin getting married before you, you were overlooked for the new promotion that was given to the employee that was hired after you, or your best friend can eat chocolate and pizza all day without gaining an ounce, but you gain weight just by looking at carbohydrates, wanting what another person has is just normal… especially with women. So if it is normal, why is it so uncomfortable?
It is uncomfortable because we want to give the assurance that we are self-confident and that as a result, we do not desire what other people have. Also, to suggest that we want what another person has, causes us to admit that we are not where we want to be in life, and may be doing something wrong. We will find extreme difficulty with accepting this if we have tried to ignore that we wanted it, made choices that prevented us from getting it, or simply feel as if we deserved whatever it is that someone else got. So how do we deal with this dilemma?
I believe that dealing with this challenge is the most difficult because society has not done the best job with distinguishing the difference between envy and jealousy. To be envious of someone is the act of "longing to possess something awarded to or achieved by another" (dictionary.com). So, if your best friend has a baby while you are facing fertility problems and trying to conceive, then you are envious of her. There is nothing wrong with that. In fact, being envious of someone can be motivating for you if you use it in the correct manner because it may be the ammunition that you need to further assist you with meeting your goals. But to be jealous of someone "denotes a feeling of resentment that another has gained something that one believes that they deserve" (dictionary.com). If your best friend has a baby while you are trying to conceive and facing fertility problems, and you do not congratulate her for conceiving, attend her baby shower, or wish her a peaceful labor, then you are jealous! That is a problem because it is spiteful and unproductive. There is no value in this behavior because it damages all parties involved. You see, the issue is not about whether or not you experience envy, but whether or not you have the willpower to refrain from responding to envy with jealous motives.
So the next time someone you know shares good news with you, and you struggle to give a genuine smile, turn red in the face, and feel your heart flutter, ask yourself will this feeling stop with envy or will you be consumed with jealousy? If you are experiencing challenges with feelings of envy or jealousy, please send your digital diaries to firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to read from you!