I'm not much of a jealous guy. I feel jealousy sometimes but it often passes pretty quickly and without the almost burning intensity some people seem to experience.
Still, I have of course thought about this problem and found a few ways to overcome it when it arises within. Hopefully this article can help you to decrease this destructive feeling in your life.
Stop comparing yourself to others.
Comparing what you have to what others have is a good way to make yourself miserable. It feeds your ego when you buy a nicer car or get a better job than someone else. You feel great for a while.
But this mindset and the focus on comparing always winds up in you noticing someone that has more than you. That someone has an even better job or car than you. And so you don't feel so good anymore.
The thing is that there is always someone with better or more than you. So you can never “win”. You just feel good for a while and then you don't.
A more useful way to compare is to just compare yourself to yourself. Look at how you have grown and what you have achieved. Appreciate what you have done and what you have, how far you have come and what you are planning to do. This will make you make you more positive and emotionally stable since you are no longer comparing and feeling jealous of what the other guy has that you haven't.
Develop an abundance mentality.
Jealousy often seems to come from a perceived scarcity in some area of your life. Maybe you feel jealous because someone else got the job you wanted. Or because someone else got the opportunity that you had hoped for. Perhaps you are feeling jealous because you are afraid of losing something and feel that if you do then you have hit rock bottom.
Comparing yourself to others seems to be a symptom of this belief of scarcity. And you feel jealous because someone else has gotten one of those scarce things or opportunities that you wanted.
Focusing your mind on the scarcity can really screw with your thoughts, feelings and life. It can cause much stronger negative emotions than is really reasonable. And it gets you really stuck in the jealousy, intensifying it, making it stronger and more long-lasting by feeding it with more thoughts and emotional energy.
To get out of this confining and destructive mentality you can develop an abundance mentality. An abundance mentality tells you that there are always new chances and opportunities.
That there are always new business opportunities to find, new tests in school to take and new people to date/make friends with. This relieves much of the pressure you may feel if you have a scarcity mentality that makes you think that you only got this shot right now. Or makes you feel like an utter failure just because you just stumbled and things didn't work out.
An abundance mentality allows you to feel more of an inner emotional freedom and it makes you more relaxed and positive. I believe that developing an abundance mentality is the most important step in reducing or overcoming jealousy because when you feel that there is always an abundance then there is little to feel jealous about. And whenever you feel jealousy starting to creep in you can stop or drastically reduce its power over you by switching your focus from the scarcity to the abundance in the world.
And develop a habit of not identifying so much with your thoughts and emotions.
Although just switching my focus to the abundance usually seems to work to overcome jealousy I thought I'd share another way to has also been helpful. This method is useful if you have been carrying the negative emotion for a while and don't seem to be able to get rid of it.
And it's basically this: stop fighting your jealousy. Surrender to it instead and just accept it. This may sound counter-intuitive. But the thing is that you are feeding the emotional loop with more energy by resisting the emotion.
When you surrender to the emotion and let it in then you stop feeding it. And it goes away. Here's one practical way of doing this:
Say yes to the feeling.
Surrender and let it in. Observe the feeling in your mind and body without labelling or judging it. If you let it in â€“ for me the feeling then often seems to physically locate itself to the middle of my chest – and just observe it for maybe a minute or two the feeling just vanishes.
I would also recommend to not identify so much with your thoughts and emotions. This basically means that you realize, learn and remember that you are not your thoughts or emotions.
You are the one observing them. They are just things passing through you.
If you learn to identify less with your thoughts and emotions then you don't have to do the exercise above so often. You just accept your thoughts and feelings in a more automatic way and let them pass without getting all wrapped up in them.
Think about what's in it for you.
I don't know if this pretty analytical method works for a lot of people. But I have found it to be helpful in many cases when I have negative thoughts or when I'm behaving in a less than useful way.
Basically, I ask myself: What's in it for me? And each time I fall back into that negative headspace and behavior I remind myself of this question and the answer.
This reinforces to me the pointlessness of what I'm thinking. And often I just think to myself: Oh, I'm being stupid again. Time to focus on something useful/fun/positive instead.
Asking yourself what is in it for you is a good way to find distance from your thoughts and behavior and to motivate yourself to just drop the less useful stuff whenever you can.
Think about what your jealousy is telling you.
This is an interesting and useful way to look at jealousy.
As I wrote a few days ago – in Epictetus' Top 7 Timeless Pearls of Wisdom – what you think and feel about the world can often tell you quite a bit about yourself.
So thinking about what your jealousy tells you about yourself can help you to learn more about yourself, what you fear and how you may be fooling yourself. Think about what is reflected when you feel jealous of someone else.
Is a fear of rejection? Of not being good enough?
Or a fear that you will lose something/someone/some part of yourself you feel very attached to? If so, why are you feeling so attached?
Try to find a solution or help – from books, people, the internet etc. – for whatever fear or belief within you that you think is making you feel the jealousy. Ask yourself: what can the jealousy reveal to me? How can I grow from this insight?