Envy is the emotion that occurs when we experience an extreme desire for something that someone else has, whether it is a quality, achievement or possession but we don’t think we can have it. Jealousy is the emotion that occurs when we anticipate or feel the loss of something of great value to us, whether it be a quality, achievement or possession. In other words, one exists when we wish to keep what we have and the other occurs when we want to get what we don’t have and in either case, feel powerless to do so. Why do these emotional states feel so similar (similar enough to be confused as one another)? Because they are both the emotional reflection of lack. The lack of something intensely wanted or needed. And sometimes, you can feel jealousy and envy at the very same time. Particularly if your loss is someone else’s gain.
Right off the bat, we must establish that there is nothing wrong or bad about jealousy or envy. It is an emotion. Like anger, jealousy and envy have been made out to be inappropriate things to experience. Biblically, envy was picked to be one of the seven deadly sins. This sucks because if it’s a sin, it’s one no human can prevent committing. You’re set up to fail. Telling yourself not to feel how you feel or telling someone else not to feel the way they feel doesn’t stop them from feeling that way, it just adds fear and self condemnation to the feeling, making it even worse.
Jealousy and envy can only arise when we are in the perspective that we are separate from one another. After all, if we are coming from the perspective of being ‘one’ and you gain something, I gain it as well. This is how to know that the ego is involved in the perception we hold if we feel jealousy or envy. It means the ego perceives a threat. Such as a third party threat to a connection it has with someone or a threat to it’s own sense of significance or self-image. So what do we do when we feel jealousy or envy?
1. We only feel jealousy and/or envy when we perceive lack. So first, we must become aware of whether it is indeed jealousy or whether it is envy that we feel. We must then use our conscious awareness to figure out what it is we are feeling that we lack. If it is jealousy, what precious thing are we afraid we are going to lose? If it is envy, what precious thing do we not have that we desperately want? We need to then consciously be willing to alter our perspective by playing a game of abundance with ourselves. It’s called “How do I actually have that thing I think I lack?” For example, if you’re afraid of losing attention, how do you have attention in your life? Or if you think you lack value, how do you have value? Make a list of as many ways you can think of that you do in fact have that you think you lack. Think in terms of “How do I already have what I am so desperately wanting?” Get as creative as you can with this list. Pretend to be someone else who has less walking into your life. What might they notice that you take for granted?
2. Think of other, alternative ways of getting the thing you think you lack. Jealousy and envy both alert us to desires and needs that we have. So, we need to admit to those needs and desires and consciously work towards them. Nowhere else is this more relevant than in relationships. Often, we feel jealousy because there is a third party threat to our connection with someone. We feel un-included once they enter the picture and develop insecurity about the connection. We then make it about eliminating the threat rather than deepening the connection we have with our partner.
Though one could argue that because jealousy is an egoic construct, it is innately un-spiritual or bad. But jealousy in a relationship is actually a good thing provided that one is conscious about it instead of reactive. It preserves our bond with the other person by alerting us to the fact that we need to develop a deeper and more secure connection with them as well as a deeper and more secure connection with ourselves. It is an opportunity to get closer with the other person. To learn more about this, watch my video on YouTube titled “Meet your needs”.
3. Never expect yourself NOT to feel this way. There is nothing that turns jealousy and envy into a wide open wound more than denying it, thinking it shouldn’t be there or feeling guilty about feeling it. You will never be able to control your jealousy or envy. The feeling, even if it is caused by a skewed perception is valid and justified. On that note, never tell someone who is feeling jealousy or envy that they shouldn’t feel that way. Instead, when the feeling of jealousy or envy arise, soothe yourself by telling yourself that it is ok and even right to feel jealous and to feel envy in this situation. Then, switch your attention to the painful beliefs that are triggering the jealousy. We need to step back from the story line we are identified with in this situation. What are you making this situation mean? When it comes to a situation that is causing you to feel jealous or envious, it always means there is a painful belief that needs to be directly addressed. For this reason, I have created a triad of videos that are designed specifically to un-root and dissolve painful beliefs. Watch these videos, applying each one to the specific jealousy or envy you are feeling. The first is: “How to Find a Core Belief”. The second is: “Meaning, The Self Destruct Button.” And the third is: “How to Change a Belief”. Your emotions are always a perfect reflection of what you’re thinking, whether you’re conscious of what you’re thinking or not. So there was never anything wrong with how you feel.
4. Jealousy and envy comes with low self-esteem like peanut butter and jelly. Improving your self worth is absolutely critical if you struggle with these emotions chronically. Chronic jealousy or envy is a chronic perception of lack relative to the self. So, now is the time to really learn about self-love and begin practicing it. Self-love (which creates self-esteem) is not something you should expect yourself to know how to do yet. But you can learn how. I wrote a book called Shadows Before Dawn, entirely about this subject. I wrote it because I got sick of people saying, “Love yourself” but giving no guidance as to how to love yourself, so this book is the practical “How To” of loving yourself. You can buy it anywhere books are sold.
5. If jealousy, envy and low self-esteem are peanut butter and jelly, shame is the bread that keeps it all together. For this reason, it is time to face your feelings of shame. To do this, watch my video on YouTube titled “How to Overcome Shame”.
6. Envy and jealousy arises from comparison thinking. There’s nothing inherently “wrong” with comparison thinking. For example, when it is part of healthy competition, it can even fuel us to do our best. But if we are using it as a tool for self-abuse, we need to see it for what it really is. Comparison thinking is unfair. We are comparing the worst we know about ourselves to the best we assume about others. If this was competition, we’d be on their side, not ours! Yikes. Also, you did not come here to be the best as compared to someone else. If this was in fact the point of life, God or source would have just made clones of the best possible person. We came here to be unique expressions of source consciousness and by comparing yourself to others, you’re disallowing your own uniqueness. You are focusing on what they have instead of on what you have, so you’ll miss being able to see your own value entirely. Michelangelo once said, “every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.” This is simply genius. Your contribution, purpose and value to this world is entirely unique so let it be.
And remember, as any therapist can tell you with certainty, just because we think someone looks like they “have it all together” doesn’t mean that’s the actual truth. The truth is, we don’t actually see the whole picture of someone else’s life. We don’t know what struggles they might be facing or who they might be envious of.
If you absolutely can’t stop comparing yourself, redirect that comparison thinking to a past self. What are you doing now that you couldn’t have done or were not doing five years ago? How have you improved and how has your life improved over time?
7. Make gratitude your spiritual practice. This seems rather trite, but in fact it is the most beneficial spiritual practice for lack consciousness. You can’t recognize what you lack and recognize what you have at the same time. When we are feeling gratitude or appreciation, we are looking squarely at what we have and the feelings of lack, including jealousy and envy go away. So carry a gratitude journal with you and write down things you feel grateful for whenever you have a spare moment. Play a game with yourself. As you go about your day, do a mental scavenger hunt for the things you appreciate in the present moment of your life.
8. Be open about these feelings with others. This means, you have to be vulnerable. When shadow aspects of your being are exposed to the light of consciousness, they lose their power. They cannot operate like marionette strings behind the curtain. Jealousy and envy hurt us when we don’t face them directly and instead, act on the feelings in ways that control or hurt others. By openly talking about your envy or jealousy, you also provide others with the opportunity to help you alter your painful and often limited perspective.
9. When you feel jealousy or envy, instead of taking actions that are designed to take from others, take actions that are generous. This requires some creative thinking relative to the situation you may find yourself in. Because jealousy and envy is about lack, you can dissolve this perception of lack by giving to others. For example, you could give love or give attention or give help or give praise or give money or give anything else you might have to someone. By doing this, you see the value you actually do have. Do this because you want to stop feeling jealous or envious, not because you want to get something back. That is just a manipulative action designed to cover over the fact that you want to take from someone else (which is coming from a place of more lack). But abundance in any form is like air, if we stop the flow of the out breath, we cannot breath in either. So by breathing out, you open yourself to receiving. Obviously by receiving you will not feel such a lack. So, if you are feeling jealousy or envy, ask yourself, “How could I be generous right here and now?” And take that action. Pay attention to feel how the tension inherent in jealousy and envy softens.
Changing beliefs, reactions, and destructive behaviors through mastering your point of view is literally the key to setting yourself free. It is the cornerstone of spiritual practice. Eventually you can literally move your self out of a belief and out of an emotion like jealousy or envy as if you were changing your clothes. Jealousy and envy are not to be feared. They reveal your deep needs and desires and thus the next steps you want to take in the direction that is most true to your core self. It’s tempting when you feel jealousy or envy to feel like you are being tormented by something you want but feel you lack. But don’t forget that it’s universal truth that you cannot want something in the first place if it wasn’t meant to be yours. That would defy universal expansion, which is the whole purpose of life here on earth.