How Not to Be Jealous

Jealousy is an ugly emotion that we all have experience with. Unfortunately, the propensity for feeling jealous of others is inside each of us. The key is to learn how to control our feelings of jealousy, put them from our minds, and feel gratitude for the things we have.

When we feel jealousy, we feel bad. Jealousy is an emotion that doesn’t have a place in our lives. When we banish those feelings, we see all sorts of benefits, like more friends, increased happiness, and less stress. In this guide, we’ll go over some of the best strategies for banishing jealousy from your life.

Deep Breaths

There are things we can do ahead of time to stop jealousy in its tracks, and there are things we can do in the moment to shake jealousy’s hold on us. Taking some deep breaths when we feel we’re in the clutches of jealousy is one fundamental way of shaking its grip on you in the moment.

Taking deep breaths is an excellent way to slow your heart rate and encourage a sense of natural calm. When jealousy strikes us unpredictably, we can do unpredictable things as a result. The key to mitigating this effect is to calm ourselves before we react. Something that seems like a good idea when jealousy is in control might feel entirely unreasonable when you have a level head again.

Deep breathing obstructs the flight-or-fight response that takes over our body when we’re in emotional distress. Instead of acting on our instincts while this response is engaged, deep breathing helps us to settle down so that we can think with the logical part of our brain.

Look Inward

A lot of times, we don’t realize that our feelings of jealousy come from deep inside us. It might have something to do with how we grew up, what we’ve been through, or even our goals and dreams. So many different parts of us can affect what makes us feel envy and jealousy that it can be hard to parse through them all.

Fortunately, isolating these things that make us feel jealousy is an excellent way to prevent it from targeting us in the future. Our insecurities, especially, tend to be a steady source of resentment. If we have trouble with public speaking, for example, we might feel jealous of a friend who’s excellent at giving speeches and who excels at work or school because of it.

When you’re looking for insecurities that might contribute to your feelings of jealousy, keep an eye out for anything in the following areas:

  • Money
  • Appearance
  • Personality
  • Friends
  • Family
  • Significant others
  • Possessions
  • Happiness

Cultivate Awareness

Self-awareness is a useful trait to have in many aspects of our lives, but as far as preventing jealousy goes, it boils down to knowing yourself and accepting yourself. If you have trouble with public speaking, for example, you should be aware of that, but you shouldn’t necessarily be jealous of others because they can do it well.

Jealousy is a fundamentally negative emotion. However, envy comes in a positive version, too: emulation. Admiring someone and wanting to be like them is the good version of jealousy. When we’re aware of our shortcomings, we can take pride in our strengths while at the same time admiring what others do well.

It’s perfectly acceptable to ask someone how they do so well at something or to try and follow in their footsteps. What’s not okay, however, is stewing in jealousy and stagnating as a result. Jealousy gets us nowhere, while emulation and admiration put us on a path towards self-improvement instead.

Stop Yourself

An enormous part of not letting jealousy control you is to stop it in its tracks when it rears its head. We all feel jealousy to some extent, but the very best way to keep the emotion out of your life is to put a stop to the feeling whenever you can. While we must accept that we will feel jealousy sometimes, we can actively mitigate how deeply and how often we feel it by schooling our thoughts and actions.

Is there a particular person or thing that makes you jealous more than anything else? If so, either avoid them or assimilate them. Avoiding them means that you’ll do your best not to encounter them in your life. Assimilating them means that you’ll make that person or thing a part of your life so that you no longer have any reason to be jealous.

Consider being jealous of an acquaintance who makes a lot of money, for example. You could either avoid this person to remove yourself from temptation’s way or work on increasing your salary to alleviate the jealousy. That way, you have no reason to be jealous of them anymore.

Stay Vulnerable

Unfortunately, an essential step on the road to living with and triumphing over jealousy is realizing that we can’t ever truly defeat it. Jealousy is always a permanent fixture in our lives in some capacity, but once we accept that, we can begin to live bigger, fuller lives without fearing its influence.

Jealousy, worry, and the unknown are all parts of being a person and pieces of being in a relationship. If we’re to conquer envy, we need to trust ourselves and our futures, regardless of what might come our way. Perhaps we wish that we could make six figures like our friend from college does; instead of letting this wish bog you down, have faith that you’ll make enough money to live happily and comfortably someday.

Staying vulnerable is especially important when we’re talking about jealousy in a relationship. This is because a relationship grows based on these fundamental values:

  • Respect
  • Trust
  • Love
  • Happiness
  • Sharing
  • Appreciation

If we harbor resentment for our significant other, it can quickly undermine these critical core values, and thus, the relationship itself. While it feels very much against our nature to make ourselves vulnerable to being hurt instead, it’s what we must do to work towards a jealousy-free relationship with our partner.

Focus on the Good

As we’ve said, jealousy is a fundamentally negative emotion. It’s something we feel most strongly when we’re bogged down by other negative emotions. This means that when we’re feeling sad, angry, combative, or different ugly feelings, jealousy tends to creep in as well.

However, this also means that feeling good emotions can help keep jealousy at bay. We should be aiming to feel good emotions as much as possible anyway because it has plenty of useful side benefits! On your quest to keep jealousy out of your life, make sure to cultivate good feelings like:

  • Joy
  • Humility
  • Gratefulness
  • Comfort
  • Security
  • Excitement
  • Love

Stop Comparing

In the realm of jealousy, two critical practices can make all the difference between someone who suffers from jealousy and someone who lives free of it. These two practices, comparing and competing, might seem identical at first, but they aren’t! The differences between the two make all the difference.

Comparing is what causes jealousy in the first place. Envy comes into being because we compare ourselves, our features, and our lives with those of other people. When we feel like we don’t make enough money, it feels like everyone around us is making more and living better than we are. When we’re concerned about our appearance, it feels like everyone around us is more attractive than we are.

There’s no reason for us to compare ourselves to other people. After all, we’re all unique, exceptional individuals with our merit, talents, and traits.

Start Competing

Competing is the “good” version of comparing, which we talked about above. While comparing only brings us down since it just involves pointing out the differences between us and others, competing is all about working on getting better in our weakest areas. When we compete with other people, rather than feeling down, we’re working hard to bring ourselves up!

Competition always has its place, so it’s not appropriate in every situation, but a bit of friendly competition can be useful (and even beneficial) in many areas. In the workplace, for example, friendly competition between employees boosts work performance and inspires everyone to work harder. As long as you don’t go overboard with it – it should never define you, for example – competition can be an excellent tool to both keep jealousy at bay and improve yourself in the process.

Seek Security

While many of us often think of pride as a bad thing, in limited doses, pride and self-confidence can be very good for us. This is especially true when jealousy comes into play. If we take pride in specific aspects of our lives, we’re far less likely to be jealous of others for that reason. If you’re proud of your swimming skills, for example, you’re not nearly as likely to be envious of someone else who swims well, right?

Pride isn’t all of it, though. The object here is to feel stable and secure, even without the help of others. We need to be able to stand on our own and feel good about ourselves when someone else tries to put us down. This is a skill that comes with time; it’s not something that we master overnight.

Having security and confidence in ourselves means knowing that we can handle it when jealousy and other negative emotions come our way. It also means knowing that as unique, valuable human beings, we have little reason to be jealous of others in the first place.

Avoid Social Media

Social media is a notorious source of jealousy in today’s society, so in many ways, it can be cleansing to stay away from social media for a while, especially if you’ve been feeling a lot of jealousy lately. Social media is a jealousy magnet because it tends to paint the people we know in a very positive light. Since people only share the happiest aspects of their lives on social media, we don’t see all the things that get them down.

This makes it seem like other people we know might have much better lives than we do, when in reality, this is not the case. If we can’t convince ourselves that social media perpetuates this illusion, it can be much healthier to leave social media behind. If We can’t give it up altogether, un-friending or un-following the people who spark your jealousy is the next best thing, but not necessarily a permanent solution.

Don’t Wait

When it comes to relationships, jealousy can be a killer. This applies to romantic relationships as well as platonic relationships. Jealousy can cause issues when it’s allowed to get between a relationship, and it can cause problems when it’s repressed, too. Unfortunately, this confuses a lot of people!

We all know that jealousy can cause issues when its presence is made known in a relationship, but it can cause just as many problems when it stays secret. Bottling up any emotion can be detrimental to a relationship (not to mention your health), and this is true for jealousy, too. When jealousy gets repressed, it comes out in snide remarks, distrustful actions, and harsh words.

This is why you shouldn’t wait for jealousy to build up and boil over, regardless of what kind of relationship you’re in. There are many good things you can do to defuse this jealousy, such as:

  • Meditation
  • Talking it out
  • Exercising
  • Getting support from a friend
  • Asking for advice from an expert

Accept Uncertainty

One of the reasons why we tend to get jealous of our friends and significant others is because of the scarcity of information. In a friendship or relationship, the other party is free to do what they want to do, and this can be hard to swallow.

What’s more, they’re at liberty to keep their activities secret from you if they so choose. While this isn’t exactly a good idea if you want a healthy relationship, the fact is that it can breed jealousy very quickly,

When we feel like someone close to us is withholding information from us, we tend to snoop. We do anything we possibly can to extract information about them. We end up doing things that we would never do in our right minds. These things can cause pain when the other party finds out about them, especially if we betrayed their trust or went beyond their boundaries.

The only way to get around this is to accept that uncertainty is a part of life. Just as we deserve freedom, so do our friends and partners. Accepting this uncertainty is one of the first steps to eradicating jealousy in a relationship and fostering understanding in its place.

Be Soft

If or when we discover that we’ve been feeling jealousy towards our friends or partners, there are several things we can do to resolve the situation. One of the best things to do is to “be soft.” Being soft means presenting your troubles to the other party in a clear, kind, unobtrusive way. Don’t place the blame on anyone, but at the same time, let them know how you feel.

If your friend or partner is the understanding type, they may try to compromise with you on a way to prevent your jealousy from coming back in the future. However, even if they’re not the compromising type, letting your feelings be known will help to stabilize your own emotions, too. Talking about your feelings with your partner is the first step towards accepting them, and it’s a great way to prevent them from bottling up and exploding, too.

Let Go

Letting go of the source of your jealousy is another critical step on the road to beating it. Unfortunately, no matter how much we try to avoid the cause, we can’t eradicate it completely. Surprisingly, though, accepting this fact is a great way to find relief. There are only so many preparations that you can do; in the moment, when we feel jealousy washing over us, it’s more important to avoid denial and work on progress instead.

We can let go of the object of our jealous feelings, too. While we may never be able to stop them from welling up inside of us, we can nevertheless try to find closure from the source. Think of the person or object that sparks your jealous feelings. You might be jealous of:

  • A person’s talents
  • An object or possession
  • A commodity
  • A person’s spouse or partner
  • A person’s family

There are many more things that might make you feel jealous, of course, but the list above contains some of the most common offenders.

To let go of our feelings of jealousy, we need to try to see the person or object’s beauty for how it is – free, separate, and different from us, but still beautiful. We don’t need to possess something to appreciate it or even enjoy it. If we can realize this and implement it in our lives, we can work on the object of jealous feelings rather than the emotions themselves.

Practice Gratitude

Gratitude is the antithesis of jealousy. As such, when we make sure to feel gratitude in our daily lives, there’s little room for resentment to take hold. After all, we feel jealousy when we want someone or something that we don’t have. Gratitude, on the other hand, is all about appreciating what we do have and being thankful for it.

It’s not hard to feel gratitude every day, but it works best when we can make it a habit rather than thinking about it directly. Many of us are used to feeling gratitude at certain times, such as when saying grace over a meal or receiving birthday presents, but fewer of us make sure to feel gratitude every day. Even if you don’t feel held down by the feelings of jealousy, it’s beneficial and healthy to turn thankfulness into a daily staple in your life.

If you’re looking to increase the gratitude you feel every day, try doing the following:

  • Appreciate what comes your way instead of being picky
  • Express your thoughts and feelings
  • Be mindful of others
  • Don’t blow off your loved ones
  • Search for happiness, always
  • Volunteer
  • Write about your gratitude in a journal
  • View your challenges as opportunities for improvement

Talk to Someone

Talking to someone about your jealousy is an excellent way to banish the ugly feelings away. Even if you can’t or won’t talk to your partner about your jealousy, a close friend or family member will be able to provide similar relief.

Talking to someone about your feelings, especially the ugly ones, requires a great deal of trust. After all, you’re showing the other person the ugly parts of you despite the risk of judgment. As humans, we tend to make the mistake of over-sharing with others on occasion, and this can affect how we feel about sharing with others in the future.

Don’t think that sharing with a stranger or acquaintance is anything like sharing with a trusted individual. A close friend, partner, or family member will be able to provide you with reliable advice without pandering to you or offending you. In the same way, you can trust that your individual will speak their mind without reserve or judgment.

When you’re speaking to others about your feelings, especially if those feelings involve the other person, there are a few do’s and don’ts to keep in mind. The most important one is to refrain from accusing the other person. Avoid phrases like, “you always…” or “why do you…” when speaking to them. Instead, say things like “I feel…” or “I think…”

Practice Positivity

Like we’ve said, jealousy is a fundamentally negative emotion. It pairs well with other negative emotions, and positive emotions tend to drive it away. Things like judgment, criticism, sarcasm, and anger tend to be good bedfellows with jealousy. As such, avoiding these other emotions as much as possible and replacing them with positivity is an excellent way to send envy packing.

Even without its jealousy-counteracting effects, positive thinking benefits the body in numerous other ways. Positive thinking lowers stress, makes relationships run more smoothly, improves health, and more. People will like you more if you’re a positive person instead of a negative one, too.

Positivity isn’t just a way of acting around others, though; it’s a way of thinking. It can even be called a lifestyle. Practicing gratitude is one way to stay positive, but there are many others as well, such as:

  • Know yourself inside and out
  • Visualize your dreams and goals
  • Be kind to yourself and others
  • Be resilient
  • Find inspiration all around you
  • Step Back

Sometimes, the most important thing for us to do is to take a step back from our jealousy. While this doesn’t involve taking a concrete step, you can do that if it helps you keep jealousy at bay. Taking a step back means distancing ourselves from the negative emotions that we’re feeling in the moment.

As human beings, we’re used to feeling everything viscerally as it happens. However, this is far from the most effective way to control our emotions. Instead of being caught up in our feelings as we feel them, it’s far more effective to act as an “observer” instead.

When you act as an observer, you take a moment to pause and think when you feel a strong emotion. This can be jealousy, anger, annoyance, or any other negative emotion. You can even use this technique for positive emotions if you want! By taking a step back and thinking about your situation before acting on your feelings, you can avoid all sorts of pain, misunderstandings, and conflict.

Feel the Pain

Feeling the pain of our jealousy and how it has hurt those around us is another way to discourage ourselves from acting on it again. All of us, at some point in our lives, have felt jealousy so strongly that it spurred us to act in a way that wasn’t befitting of us. Maybe we stole something from a friend that we desperately wanted, or perhaps we spied on our significant other behind their backs.

These memories of errant jealousy and the pain they caused are a great source of motivation to keep us from making the same mistakes again. While it might feel embarrassing or painful to think about when we let jealousy take us over, it’s essential to realize that we’re not perfect. There will be times when we slip up, and there will be times where we inadvertently hurt others or ourselves.

However, each time we make a mistake, we come out of it a bit better. When we slip up, we know not to take the same actions next time. While this doesn’t take away the need for prevention, it does mean that we shouldn’t beat ourselves up over making a mistake. Remembering a mistake and learning from it is essential, but holding onto your jealousy so firmly that it changes you is counterproductive and unhealthy.

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