Using Jealousy for Good
I was talking to a friend the other day who couldn’t understand how her roommate of a few months had moved from across the country, got a great new job, and in the span of one month, also found a boyfriend. My friend was going through her own struggles – losing a job, a childhood pet, and pretty much experiencing an upheaval of life as she’d known it. She kept hinting how things looked so easy for her roommate and, seemingly, everyone else.
But, we all know that’s far from the truth.
She called me for advice, which I was more than happy to give but felt definitely unqualified to offer. I think as friends, women, and humans we’re obligated to help one another out as best we can, whenever we can – but I always come back to the idea that we’re all in this together, all blindly navigating the sea of shit that continually gets thrown at us at any given time.
Sometimes, the difficulties seem to arrive as small blips on the radar – a missed alarm that throws off your whole schedule, getting caught in the rain and spending 80 percent of the day in wet jeans, or leaving your wallet at home. These all seem like completely earth-shattering things in the moment, when in actuality, they are quite first-world, minor issues. But, when we’re in the moment, sometimes we can’t help but ask, “Why me?”
Then, the feelings and stresses can build up over time. And, occasionally, the hardships arrive like a giant tidal wave, one that threatens to drown everything in its path. One major thing can go wrong, and we suddenly catastrophize about all the other things that seem bad, no matter how minor they actually are. At that point of vulnerability and helplessness, it’s easy to feel less than, “behind” in life, or just plain tired of it all.
Recently, I came across Clarity on Fire’s new podcast and their episode “Why I love jealousy (and you should, too).” I’ve been a dedicated reader of their blog for a while because their insights are seriously eye-opening. But, I was super surprised at this latest choice of topic to say the least. I feel like as a society we are groomed to never be jealous of others – or if we are, to do our best to hide it.
You’re not “supposed” to look at someone and think, “I want what they have.” Jealousy is only considered to be healthy in small doses to keep the spark in a romantic relationship, but too much of it is absolutely toxic. And, you’re definitely a bad person if you feel jealousy for something someone has, right?
At least according to Clarity on Fire. They say “There’s no shame in jealousy. It’s just a tool to help you clarify your deepest desires.” Wow. Talk about a mind shift. Using jealousy to navigate everything we’re faced with in life? I was intrigued.
The podcast dives into why jealousy can be a good thing. If you’re looking at someone and thinking you want their career, their trips to the Northern Lights and Asia, or their beautiful home in the suburbs – those aren’t indicators that you are a bad, ungrateful person. Instead, those are markers that should guide you like a compass toward what you really want out of life – or the things you could want, or how you want to feel – maybe a successful work life, the freedom to travel or make your own schedule, and to own property so you can make something your own. These things conjure feelings of accomplishment, flexibility, and pride, and may not necessarily come from having those exact same things, but are a good indicator of what you might want.
With all the choices we have to make in life and paths we can take, jealousy can certainly help us narrow down what we really want, and what changes we can make to get there. It can shine a light on what’s not working in our lives and give us the kick we need to alter accordingly.
As soon as I heard this, a light switch went on in my head. Never mind the fact that so much of how we see our own lives is affected by our own perceptions and attitudes, but, it’s a beautiful thing when we think about how a feeling like jealousy doesn’t have to actually be negative – if we think it’s not, and we work to find the positive in it.
It’s even more beautiful when someone else tells us there is always a better way when we’re feeling stuck.
It’s all about how we perceive our reaction to situations, and how things are making us feel. And, what we choose to do with those thoughts makes all the difference.
We can still be incredibly happy for people and their successes, and also want those things for ourselves, while using them as a guidepost from here on out.
So, coming fresh off all the wisdom that Rachel and Kristen of Clarity on Fire dropped, I listened to my friend, judgement-free, and in turn, I imparted wisdom as best I knew how – by sharing the gifts other strong women have imparted on me.
I told her that her feelings were valid. I acknowledged her hurt and the fact that she was feeling defeated after being pummeled by wave after wave. I gave a name to what she was feeling, and what we’ve all felt. Then, I suggested it might be time she look at her situation and the things and people she’s looking at now through a slightly different lens.
As I told her about what I’d learned, I saw that switch go on in her too. A little lightness seemed to evade the room.
Hopefully, some more switches will go off in the future, and we can all use our “jealousy” to push each other forward. And, when faced with a situation or person that stirs a sense of “less than” or wanting inside of us, we can now ask “Why not me?”