In continuing our discussion on Jealousy from the last post, I hope you’ve had sufficient time to reflect and see where exactly you lie on this continuum and how you respond to the success of others in your life, particularly when it seems like your own life is going nowhere, fast. Or if some of your friendships have become strained and distant over time, owing to the successes you’ve scored.
It’s not easy, being in either of those situations i.e where you feel you are lagging behind your peers or where your peers are resenting you for your success, so I’ll get straight into sharing some thoughts on what we can do when we realize we are actually going green…
- Recognize and acknowledge it. See your feelings for what they really are and admit them. Yes, it can be very uncomfortable to admit that you are experiencing jealousy because it means coming face to face with your own weaknesses and insecurities. But what is not acknowledged – cannot be treated. In case you’re wondering, one of the sure signs that you’re harboring jealousy towards someone is when you start to feel a tinge of hostility towards them. Maybe even a little uncomfortable when they are around, or you may even avoid crossing paths with them altogether. Try to understand what is at the root of these feelings and identify what exactly is making you (or them if you’re on the receiving end) feel this way. Is it the fear that you will never make it or get the same opportunities as them? Or do you resent them for getting where you wanted to go, before you did? Or maybe you feel you will just never measure up? Answering these questions is only the first step in dealing with this issue, and those answers should lead us to point number 2.
- Realize that each person’s path is different. One of the truest biblical passages that addresses the uniqueness of each of our life-journeys, and the opportunities we come across therein is Ecclesiastes 9:11 which says ‘The race is not to the swift nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to men of understanding, nor favor to men of skill – but time and chance happen to them all.’ Even the least likely. Each person is created with a unique purpose and a unique destiny in life. And the experiences that are needed to prepare and shape one for that destiny are as unique as the destiny itself. Our times and seasons are also different, and so just because someone graduates before you doesn’t necessarily mean that you are now forever doomed to failure. Celebrate and maximize whatever season you’re in because that is the part of your life within your power to grow and improve in that time, before moving on to the next season, which will also hold its own experiences and promise. Your journey is unique and it is only folly to try to copy/imitate someone else’s journey when your ultimate destination lies elsewhere. Embrace and stick to your lane. Focus on and do you – and avoid point number 3.
- Avoid comparing yourself to other people. When you realize that each person’s path is unique, then it becomes easier to not compare yourself to other people. Often what happens is we use our friends as benchmarks in our lives, and when that benchmark is way above our level of experience, competence or success, then we start to feel inadequate or even inferior. But we must realize that even those we think have it all, have their own struggles and insecurities. They may be different from yours and in different areas, but they exist nonetheless. It is just the human condition. But we tend to gloss over these and only see what we want to see. The bad in us, and the good in them. Instead of focusing on your shortcomings, what you have and what you don’t have, think about the positives within your own life. Think about the skills and attributes that you need to hone in order to be successful in your own journey. Remember, the aim is to be successful in who you were created to be, and not a good version of someone else. And in doing that, also be weary of the influence of number 4.
- Social Media. There is no escaping it and its influence, and yes, people will post pictures of their wedding and their new baby and their new car and their new house and etc etc…. while you have none of the above. I don’t believe these folks are deliberately being mean. But it’s just what people do in this digital age. Getting the whole world to celebrate with you and share in your life and such. I actually don’t believe that social media itself is a problem, but when we start to use it as a tool of comparison…we start getting into some muddy waters. When we go from, ‘Congratulations on your new house!’ to ‘That’s a big house. Mine is a hut compared to theirs.’ Or when you hold off on congratulating someone over their wedding because their photos looked nicer than yours, or it was at a hotel and yours was in your back yard and you feel somewhat lesser than them and etc etc. if we are not secure in ourselves and confident in where we are in our own life journey, then social media will cease to be a tool for sharing information, and memories and making connections and all the positive things it can be. But will become instead, a place where we begin to question our value and worth, and how we measure up against other people. Come to think of it, is there anyone actually keeping score? Other than you of course… Remember that the times and seasons of life do change. And yours will too. Those who are happy today may go through a different season tomorrow, while the end to your misery may just be a few days away. But in the waiting, celebrate with those who are celebrating and mourn with those who mourn, all the while working on point number 5.
- Go in the opposite direction. That is, do the opposite of what a jealous person would do when in that same situation. For example, when you feel jealous of a co-worker or friend’s success, don’t react in a destructive way by making accusations (like they only got the promotions because of….), giving them the silent treatment or dropping little sarcastic hints here and there. Instead, try to do what a genuine friend would do. Congratulate them. Find something to compliment them about. Commend them over an attribute you’ve noted that has led to that desired outcome. It may feel like you’re faking it in the beginning, because you truly are fighting against your own nature. But when you do it often enough, it will slowly but surely become a part of your new nature. Remember that the only way to overcome evil, is with good. Even the evil within our own hearts. And when you see the joy in the eyes of someone who appreciates your noticing, and genuinely celebrating with them in their greatest hour, you can’t help but have some of that same joy in your own heart. And while you’re at it…
- Keep working on yourself and remember to count your own blessings. I think its safe to say that at the root of jealousy probably lies some form of insecurity and/or fear. Could be the fear of failure,the fear of losing respect or control, the fear of what people will think about you and so on and so forth. And while you are consumed in all those fears and related emotions, there is so much that is uniquely yours that goes unnoticed and unappreciated because your focus is only on other people, and what they have. I remember coming across a saying that, ‘Envy is counting the other person’s blessings instead of your own.’ And I agree with that statement completely. Funny as it may sound, there’s probably somebody somewhere who is envying you for what you have and/or who you are as a person. But when you’re stuck in greedy admiration and being jealous of others, you have no time to see the good in your own life, or even the work you may need to put in to make it even better. Appreciate and steward correctly what is already in your hands now, before you can be entrusted with more. Because without that, even more will never be enough.
So the next time you catch yourself going green with envy over someone’s success, go on and congratulate them. Appreciate what it took for them to get where they are. Instead of comparing, see what you can learn from them, and apply it in your own journey. Remembering to appreciate it for what it is, and the many blessings you’re encountering along that way.There’s never a good enough reason to hate on others. After all, there’s more than enough room on the stage of life for everyone to have their moment in the spotlight. Time and chance will happen to us all.
Hope this helps! 🙂