Here’s a little secret about jealousy. Depending on how we choose to handle her, she’s not some ugly dragon to slay or hide in shame. She’s more like a wise, guru teacher. A voice to listen to. A breadcrumb trail back to a part of ourselves we’ve shut down or denied. When a person triggers jealousy in us, this is a golden moment. It means our souls are scratching at the door. “That, there, this - I want, I want, I want!” Carl Jung said: “Where your wound lies, therein lies your genius.” I think, along these same lines, it could also be said: where your jealousy flares, therein lies the deeper request of your soul.
See if you can get to know the many faces of jealousy. She’s not always so easy to identify within ourselves. Are you feeling brutally critical of someone in your life? Do you struggle to feel authentically happy for a friend’s success? Do you find yourself competing with people in social settings more than just relating to them? Are you withholding positive feedback and compliments from others? All of these tendencies are fear based and scarce. They are absolutely natural and human, especially in our modern world, and they don’t make us “bad” people. They just indicate the presence of jealousy and of a certain kind of suffering we don’t need to carry around if we are interested in living with optimal joy and liberation.
At the root of so much of our suffering, there is often self disregard. There is a need we’re not honoring or listening to. Take the example of feeling competitive with another person in your life. Say you’re at a work event and this person shows up looking fabulous. And then a jealous reaction rises up. It can look like a slam, (which is a way of projecting our pain outward): “She’s ridiculously overdressed for this lunch; jeez. Who does she think she is anyway?!” Or the jealousy can also take the form of an inner beating (like the turning the weapon of our pain on ourselves): “Look at her. She looks amazing and I look like a slob. I hate all of my clothes. I didn’t even iron my shirt today. What’s wrong with me?”
But what if we got curious instead? The co-worker walks in the room looking fabulous. We feel that tight fist of jealousy forming in our gut. The thoughts start ramping up internally. But then we hit the pause button. “Wait a minute. I know this feeling. This is my soul scratching. What is trying to be known here…?”
When we compare ourselves to another person it’s not that we want to be the other person. It’s that we want to embody an aspect of that person. What is it about the co-worker that has us snagged in a jealous trap? Maybe her posture and composure feel noticeably powerful as she walks in the room and we’re mourning that we’ve let our yoga practice go. Maybe she’s wearing a bright color and we’re feeling a deficit of vibrancy in our lives. Maybe her hair is perfectly styled and it’s been way too long since we’ve treated ourselves to the nurturance of a day at the salon. Maybe we’re telling ourselves, not just in the moment but in a more incessant, background music kind of way, that “other people” get to be beautiful and impressive but we’ll “never” pull it together like that.
In truth, “never” is a word, not a warden. Our mental prisons are metaphorical and self imposed. We are free to decide what we want to believe in. Words like “never” lose their power when we start allowing ourselves to doubt their authority over our lives. Whatever we’re telling ourselves we’ll “never” be good enough for, worthy of, ready for, able to achieve - can we begin to question this as the real end of the story?
What if we allowed ourselves to feel all the dark, limited, scary feelings AND THEN honored a commitment to ourselves to use these feelings as tools and insights for evolved self understanding and self love? What if jealousy and fear weren’t the end of the sentence? Just the first half. Just the key that turns the lock in the door and opens it to a new part of us, waiting to actualize its own potential?
And remember: The most attractive person in the world is a person who loves themselves. Loving yourself is not dependent on a special face cream, exercise regime or expensive outfit. Loving yourself is a decision. Just like the decision to view our lower vibrational energy as the stifled voice of our souls. Can we open to the message? Can we learn to listen to ourselves with reverence and kindness?