Although we commonly use the two words jealousy and envy interchangeably, they describe different situations and feelings.
Jealousy relates to feeling hostile towards someone whom we see as a rival for the attentions of a friend, relative or romantic partner. We fear that they may entice away someone we care about – leaving us rejected or abandoned.
Our primitive fears and anxieties take over and we then scrutinise, criticise and denigrate them and their motives. We want them out of the picture so that we can feel more secure – until the next threat comes along. If we have a tendency to be jealous 'by nature' - or rather, we have an insecure attachment style - there'll always be a next threat, whether real or imagined!
Envy is about feeling resentment towards someone's status, achievements or possessions. We want for ourselves what they have – even if it were to mean depriving them of it!
Both of these stem from our own insecurities, and fears that we aren't good enough as we are, either as a friend, partner or relative, or not good enough to be able to achieve and possess what we want in life and to attain greater status and kudos.
We've probably all seen, or even met and known, people who try to make others feel jealous or envious.
If so, we can ask ourselves why someone might have the need to evoke jealousy or envy in others. The answer will be linked to their own life-story being retold in their behaviours.
They might attempt to evoke jealousy by setting up scenarios which create manipulative mind games to test the loyalty and love of friends and parters... e.g. by talking about a fantasy admirer (especially around St. Valentine's Day!) or a preferred and special friend or relative.
Perhaps they need to stir up other people's emotions of envy or jealousy to feel 'special', superior or desirable themselves... or just to be noticed and significant in that moment.
When we can see what's going on 'back stage' we can then decide to ignore and refuse to play their game, and not feed their fragile ego's needs.
Instead we can remain neutral and yet compassionate and empathic to their need to play games to get what they want - instead of having the courage to express their vulnerability with honest communication.
So, let's instead turn the green-eyed monster around and make it work in our favour – to motivate and inspire us to become more of who we have the potential to be.
Let's become energised to heal our emotional wounds, and to nurture and improve our relationships, and to take care of ourselves and meet our own needs and aspirations.
Let's ensure that our inner child feels safe, secure and of intrinsic value, and worthy of love and success.
Let's be humble and honest, and feel satisfied and grateful for all the good things - large or small - that we have in our lives.
When we focus more upon feeling OK with ourselves and who we are - and feeling proud of all the things we've overcome and achieved just to get to this point - we shift our focus onto gratitude, acceptance and self-compassion... and that feels a whole lot better than jealousy and envy ever could!
Maxine Harley (MSc Psychotherapy) MIND HEALER & MENTOR
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