Jealousy

We often want what we don't have...

Jealousy is a rotten emotion. As far as human emotions go, this one evokes more distress than I would like. What's even worse than feeling this way, is to realize where it comes from- pure unadulterated insecurity. Yuck. Who wants to fess up to that? Not me. You may find yourself reeling about a neighbor's new car, your co-workers promotion, your best friend's marriage...the list goes on and on. We often want what we don't have, and spend far more time thinking about what is lacking, than what is already within our grasp. 

Those Frye boots...it hurts!

As with every topic, I spend some time in personal reflection to see what I can contribute out of my file cabinet of life experiences. The real challenge with this particular emotion is being candid, because the nature of it is absolute discomfort. Leaning into a little vulnerability here. Breathe. I think everyone can quietly nod when thinking of their own life experience. Even as you read this, you're identifying the inner workings of your own green monster. Your ex-husband's new wife, friend's lake house, those Frye boots....it hurts! So much of this stems from expectations about happiness. I was raised to think pure accomplishment was associated with marriage and children, not necessarily career success. I don't even think that was discussed. Not because I wasn't seen as capable of contributing to society within this realm, but because my parent's generation was confined within the paradigm of roles. A woman's role is mother/wife, teacher, secretary, or nurse. The latter were only space fillers until finding a husband. There's only one small problem. It's not 1958. While this life map may have been a perfect road for prior generations, it isn't as socially prevalent these days. I'm sure there are a few subcultures that still embrace the 22 year old bride, but if I'm going to keep it real, I wasn't built that way. I have always been an "against the grain" girl, but that doesn't mean my core values aren't strictly aligned with this paradigm. Enter cognitive dissonance.

Cognitive dissonance is a fancy way of saying that your beliefs and values are in conflict with the way you are living your life. When this happens, there is distress in the person that cannot be resolved until these two things are in alignment again. Example: if you are LDS and drink whiskey until you pass out every night, that would be conflict between your values and behavior. If you believe that cheaters are the scum of the earth, but have been engaging in an affair for a year, you're going to feel pretty crummy about it. Within the personal example I gave earlier, my familial values programed me to get married and have a family. That's not what happened for me, which resulted cognitive dissonance. I believe that core values have everything to do with jealousy. While I would rather gnaw off my own arm than be in a traditional marriage, I see these families, and still feel a twinge of jealousy. What the heck? Jealousy is not always something we are in control of. 

If Erica has a perfect body, I should too...

So let's break down this core value situation. Core values are often instilled within your family of origin. Let's explore an example. Some families value money as success, while others value quality time spent together camping by the lake every weekend. Say your family values money, but doesn’t have an overflowing bank account. The belief that success is based on financial freedom will be passed on, and if you fall short of that value, jealousy may be an emotion you battle with when witnessing others’ success. As if it should be your own. Jealousy doesn’t necessarily mean you wish ill to the other person, or that they shouldn’t be successful, simply that you want a piece of the pie too- based on the values that you have been taught, or personally identify with. Culture plays a large role as well. One screaming example, is our societal definition of female beauty. I recall that in the 90's, a waify heroin chic body was all the rage, now it's strong yoga/crossfit bodies. Our culture provides a moving target for what we wish to be ours. Or who we look at with squinting distain because they happen to fit the mold, when we don't. If Melissa has a rich husband, I should too. If Erica has a perfect body, I should too. It’s as simple as that. 

Ruby's first pic eating strained carrots...

Perhaps you have been trying to get pregnant for the last eight years, with repeated failures. Fertility treatments, testing, injections, all laced with hope that “this will be the time it works.” You see friend after friend complete a healthy pregnancy, only to be reminded of your own failure every time you check your facebook feed. Ian is walking now! Ruby’s first pic eating strained carrots. You long for that story to be your own. Jealousy is biting, and you just can’t go to another baby shower-feigning joy. Big fat monster Jealousy. You don't wish your friends the same struggle, you just want to shop for Pampers and and complain about breastfeeding woes too. What can you do with these intense feelings, when no resolution appears present?

Someone is always going to have more than you...

Comparisons are poison. When you get caught running down the rabbit trail, thinking "I don't have, I should have, why does she get that when I don't?" STOP. Someone is always going to have more than you. This is a losing battle of utter futility. Instead of engaging in negative thinking, take a pause and practice a little gratitude. It sounds all Pollyanna and cheesy, but I'm not kidding. Sit your bum down and make a list of the things you are thankful for. You didn't get that promotion, but you have a job. You can support your family. Woohoo! You don't have the rockin wardrobe your coworker sports, but you are healthy and able bodied! That is a blessing. You may not have a baby yet, but you have the freedom to travel during this season of your life, which isn't a possibility for many parents. In addition to gratitude, you have the opportunity to realign your intentions for the future. Instead of thinking "I'm always going to be alone," make space for the possibility of a partner. Affirm yourself with statements like "I am worthy of love" or "I welcome intimacy into my life." Focusing on the negative is bound to perpetuate it. This practice is like TUMS for your bubbling heartburn. It simmers down the angry beast, and leaves you feeling the glow of possibility. Your glass is suddenly half full.

While jealousy is a rotten state to find yourself in, it's a perfect opportunity identify your core values and reassess your path. If it's not in alignment with your lifestyle, and you're swimming in cognitive dissonance, make some changes. Don't lash out with passive aggressive comments, ruining friendships. Your time is coming. Find your gratitude, take the reigns, and manifest your own magic. Green monster be gone!

AM