In today’s post, lets get real and get into the juicy stuff, starting with the super fun emotion of jealousy. In all seriousness, if you were to compile a list of the most difficult emotions to experience, I bet jealousy would make the Top Three. Jealousy: That special emotion that can feel like a concoction of anger, rage, sometimes hatred, longing and fear.
If you have been reading my blog, you may have noticed that I like to share stories from my own experience. So, in keeping up with the trend, I now give you…
Many years ago, I became intensely jealous of a woman I thought was very attractive and seemed to embody all the qualities I felt I didn’t have. I simultaneously wanted her to like me, to be her and for her to suffer some terrible fate and die. Her very existence seemed to threaten my security with my boyfriend at the time as I constantly worried that he probably wanted to be with her rather than me (contrary to all the evidence otherwise). Most of the time, the jealousy just festered and I suffered through it. Sometimes as jealousy has the tendency to do, it drove me to be paranoid and possessive with my boyfriend.
One night, my boyfriend was invited to a party where I knew she would be attending and the jealousy began to rear its ugly head as usual. But this time, I suppose I was tired of suffering with the jealousy and wanted to try something different.
I decided to actually sit with my feelings. At the time, I had already had a meditation practice for a couple years and under usual circumstances just sitting with my experience was not too big of a deal. But have you ever tried just sitting with a very intense and painful experience? It’s not easy. In fact, it took incredible courage. After all, it is much easier to stay in anger and blame than to get in touch with our vulnerability. Here is what happened when I decided to go sit on my meditation cushion and just be with my jealousy….
As I sat quietly with my experience and noticed what came up, I was able to label every nuance of what was arising. It started with pure discomfort and then the usual anger and rage towards that woman and my boyfriend for “making me feel” jealous. But as I continued to sit still through all of that something else began to emerge. Deep sadness and grief began to well up and I soon found myself sobbing. You know, one of those big ugly cries? I found that below my anger was a deep sense of fear that I wasn’t good enough and that I would be left alone. What if I was ultimately unlovable and no one could ever keep loving me? Those thoughts are quite painful to get in touch with.
Oftentimes, painful and uncomfortable feelings can be a wake-up call to deeper healing.
As I let myself feel the pain, another feeling ultimately arose: Deep compassion and a gentle sense of care and concern for what I was going through. The practice of self-compassion reassured me that I was indeed not alone; I had myself. As I nurtured myself, the pain subsided and what was left in its place was an open heart and the vow to continue loving the parts of myself that felt unloved. From that moment on, I knew I would no longer suffer in the same way with my jealousy towards this woman. I still felt jealousy arise at times but I had a new way of dealing with it. Instead of running away from it or directing my feelings outward, I could turn inward to heal what was there right below the surface of the jealousy. I could hold my insecurity and fear with love and compassion. I no longer abandoned myself by believing that someone else was more worthy of love than I was.
Trust that you are just as worthy of love
Jealousy arises from a misguided belief that there’s only enough resources for one person to get what they want. You know that old saying that there’s only room enough for one at the top? As if another person having a quality you want means there’s not enough of it left for you. This tendency is evident even in young children. For example, my 4-year-old daughter crosses her arms and pouts whenever I acknowledge to my son something positive he has done. She is a pure and honest expression of this jealousy when she exclaims,”That’s not fair! I want to do a good job too!” So, essentially when we find ourselves getting jealous of another’s attributes or talents, we are experiencing our own inner version of a pouting young child who doesn’t believe that there’s enough of a good quality to go around! Consider that everyone has an equal amount of intrinsic worth and belonging, even if they don’t know it. Everyone has the capacity to step into their own light and in doing so, it actually gives others the freedom and inspiration to do so for themselves.
Take a moment right now and ask yourself;
- What or who are you jealous of?
- What qualities does that person embody that you want more of?
- How does your jealousy play out in your behavior? Do you become angry and controlling? Or, do you become withdrawn and depressed?
- Does it feel like jealousy takes over and you wish you had more control over it?
- Do you feel embarrassed when you feel jealous as if you shouldn’t be feeling it?
You’re not alone. It takes courage and vulnerability to admit that you feel jealous at times. It’s a normal, human emotion however, it can also get the best of you and your relationships if it begins to breed possessiveness, resentment or hostility.
Jealousy is a call to turn inward
Next time you notice feelings of jealousy, try this practice:
- Begin with getting in touch with some sense of self-compassion (click here to read about how to practice self-compassion).
- Then, from a place of self-compassion you can let yourself feel sad for the parts of you that do not feel that you measure up. Perhaps you feel jealous of another’s confidence, success, attractiveness or sociability. Or, maybe there is some grieving to be done around something you did not receive or some way in which you think you are lacking. Spend some time tending to and having deep compassion for the longing, sadness and grief.
- Then, ask yourself: In what way are you comparing yourself to the other person? What does the other person have that you would like more of?
- Can you trust that you are enough and worthy of love?
- Can you redirect your energy and attention towards cultivating what you want more of in yourself or in your life? Ask yourself, how would it feel to stop worrying about comparing yourself to others and instead put your energy into focusing on what you truly want in your life? You may even notice that what you want is actually very different than what everyone else wants. Are you buying into the traps that mainstream society sets of having to look, act or live a certain way in order to be worthy?
The point is not to judge yourself for feeling jealous. It’s about turning your attention inward to get in touch with your own sense of worthiness and empowerment rather than getting stuck in believing that you don’t measure up. Let your heart guide you into embracing who YOU are! You are just as worthy of love and belonging as everyone else.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
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