I’ll admit it. It’s happened to me.
I’ve been trudging along in my normal life, happily existing in a relationship that is positive, pleasant, and healthy, when WHAM! I’m smacked over the head with envy. I’m jealous, and I know it. I’m green as the green witch in Wicked, the one who is played by the woman who reminds me of the girl from Glee. (Right?)
What causes a person to be jealous?
Jealousy hurts people. It ruins things. It turns the most robust partnerships into broken ones, marred by envy, competition, and fear. Jealousy might start out small, tiny, almost unnoticeable. So, you may be wondering, why do I get so jealous?
It might look like the most imperceptible, slight downturn in your lips or scrunch of your nose when your partner or a friend mentions their new job. It might feel like a burning in your cheeks or a turn in your stomach. It could just be the silent thought, “I wish I were that happy/successful/lucky/talented/fortunate/flush with cash.” But it can easily turn into bitterness and resentment. Passive-aggressively pushing your partner to pay the bill at dinner because they now make more money than you. Getting even more restless in your current position than you would otherwise. Groaning on Monday’s when it’s hard to get out of bed and get to work. You want what they have, but you can’t have it. Why not?
Why should you fight jealousy?
Because their story is not your story. You are not the one with the new job, fun job, lucrative job, dream job or convenient job. You have your job (or no job, right now) and that comes with its own challenges. There’s no getting around it — sometimes we all wish we had a different work situation. Maybe you’ve felt this for a while, or maybe someone else’s cushy job got you dreaming of greener pastures. Whatever the case may be, it sucks. And it hurts. And if you don’t keep that jealousy in check, it can end up hurting any relationship or even ending it.
How to stop being jealous
Here are a few ways to keep your envious heart in check, even in the most trying of circumstances. Though jealousy might seem impossible to wade through, you can do it. And what’s on the other side is so, so much more beautiful than you can imagine.
1. Celebrate success.
In a relationship, your partner’s successes can be enjoyed just as much as your own. This is true of many types of relationships, including close friendships. When you win, you win together. Their new job or opportunity may not only mean a higher combined income for the two of you, but a more flexible schedule, more time to spend together, or a happier person for you to come home to in the evenings. Less stress. More vacations. The chance to get to know their new coworkers and make new friends.
If you happen to be in the same field, it could even mean fresh networking opportunities for you! I find that the more I express joy, appreciation, and love, the more I feel those things in real time. The more you say to someone, “I am so happy for you,” (and actually try to mean it) the more you will begin to feel happy for that person. You will be filled up on the secondhand joy that enters the atmosphere when someone else is experiencing positivity. You’ll want to throw a party! Hey, throw a party. A new job is a great excuse for a party.
2. Refocus your energy onto your own story.
You and the other person have different, distinct life stories and paths. You are meant to have different careers, unique challenges, and separate experiences. Though we often wish they would, we can’t force two lives to move perfectly in tandem. This month, my girlfriend started a new job in D.C. She travels up each week to work her dream job at a museum. Me? I still live in a different state, and I’m still trying to find my best-fit workplace. I could be frustrated that she is living into her goals and dreams, flourishing in a city she loves. Or I can watch, applaud, support, and love her into her future, while still walking on my own path. Our journeys don’t have to diverge. They are just that—two very different journeys, bound together by a very big love. It’s beautiful! Are you crying yet?
Even close friends—ones who have known each other since elementary school—have separate and unique journeys, and you should celebrate the wins of others while focusing on your own goals and path.
3. Examine your own insecurities.
Why do you feel so jealous of their success? Is it because you feel unhappy in your own job, or as though your career path is moving too slowly? Are you having doubts and second thoughts about the education you chose, or the career trajectory you set out for yourself? The good news is, we all have those insecurities at some point in life. The even better news is, we all have the power to pivot, change direction, and make positive choices to improve our own lives.
That might mean something as simple as changing up the shift you usually take or asking to try out a new role at work. It could also mean going back to school, finding a career mentor, or, heck, even quitting your job and starting all over again! These are all valid options. But don’t put negative energy towards your partner just because you’re still figuring out your story. You’re going to be figuring it out for your whole entire life. That’s a lot of potential negativity that could be re-routed and spun into determination.
4. Remember — there’s more to a person than a job.
No matter how lucrative, unique, interesting or sexy their career may be, I’m willing to bet that whatever your relationship is with the other person, it doesn't depend on their 9-to-5 (work relationships may, of course, but even these should not force you to fester in jealousy). If it wasn’t the center of your relationship at the beginning, you don’t need to give it weight at this point, months or years into your time together. Most things that can be displayed on the job also come out in other parts of life. Focus on other qualities or attributes of the person, such as the things you do together as friends or partners. Go on a hike, take a trip, cook dinner together. You might be reminded of how great they are outside of the board room, classroom, office, sales floor or wherever they locate themselves during the workweek.
The bottom line
If you think about all these possibilities and still feel that little green monster welling up in your heart, it might be time to have an honest, vulnerable, face-to-face conversation with the other person about your jealousy. Sometimes, naming the beast can take all the fear and fight out of it. If you’re worried about how she or he sees you because of your job situation, tell them that. If you’re concerned that they don’t have time for you, tell them. Or if you’re just plain-old jealous that they are living their dream while you’re still figuring things out in your own mind? Tell them!
A relationship built on trust and vulnerability will be able to weather that type of honesty. However you decide to proceed, you will come out feeling stronger and healthier if you can face the jealousy head-on.
Do you find yourself to be a jealous person, or do you know a jealous person in your life? If you often feel jealous of your partner or someone you know or vice versa, it can be a hard hurdle to overcome. But jealous thoughts are nothing more than, well, jealous thoughts, so if or when you're feeling jealousy and envy, or people you know are jealous people, consult this advice. Overcoming jealousy isn't easy, but it's doable.
Kaitlyn Duling is an author and poet who is passionate about supporting and uplifting other women. Her work can be found at www.kaitlynduling.com.