Got Jealousy?  How to stop the downward spiral.

jealousy pictureWhen in the presence of someone taller, richer, smarter, thinner, younger, prettier, or anything else-er… jealousy has the opportunity to rear its ugly head.  Let’s face it, we can’t be all things all the time.  That would be downright boring anyway.  But what about those feelings of insecurity, self doubt, and low self worth that emerge when our defenses are low?  Let’s break them down into their composite parts and root causes.  As a Therapist and Coach, it helps to dissect emotion, its triggers, and resulting behaviors. So let’s begin with a few related outcomes…

Insecurity:

When we listen too closely to our inner critic, we naturally feel insecure and unsure of ourselves. It’s uncomfortable and can stifle us from taking risks, stepping outside our comfort zone, and stretching toward new levels of achievement.  What to do?  Challenge it!  It’s healthy to check yourself, but if you’re obsessing about mistakes made or are fearful of acting on the wrong decision, it’s time to consider other possible explanations and ideas about yourself and the task at hand.  Acknowledge your negative self talk and substitute that critical gremlin’s loud mouth with statements of encouragement and wisdom. Open your mind to best case scenario and successful endings to the story.

“The task we must set for ourselves is not to feel secure, but to be able to tolerate insecurity.” – Erich Fromm

Comparison:

When we compare ourselves to others, we are setting ourselves up for a fall.  It’s a mean trick our brains play on us.  Typically we notice the strengths of others while honing in on our own shortcomings.  When you compare the two – someone’s strengths against your blind spots and challenges – you naturally end up with unfair comparisons and a recipe for discouragement.   An example of this is, “Her hair is so pretty, I bet all the guys like her.  I’m overweight and miserable in my job.”  Say ‘hello’ to the metaphorical apples and oranges argument!  Stop and question the assumptions you make.  Catch the unfair comparisons in action.  You never really know the details of someone else’s life story and therefore, comparing it to yours is fruitless (pun intended!).

Remember the words of Theodore Roosevelt, “Comparison is the thief of joy.”

Self Worth:

When insecurity and unfair comparisons combine, the result is low self worth.   This can be disastrous to your mental health, relationships, and personal growth.  Take a step back.  Get off the couch.  Realize your potential and the possibilities.  If you’re feeling lonely, expand your friend group.  If you’re feeling incompetent, expand your skills and expertise. If you’re feeling unfulfilled, choose an activity or interest to explore.  Identify one goal you can and will accomplish this week to get one step closer self improvement. Take a class or join a meet-up group.  It will improve your quality of life – and your self worth.  Don’t capitulate to the unwanted negative feelings.  They will loose their strength and influence when you take your power back.

“A man cannot be comfortable without his own approval.” – Mark Twain

Take-Home Message:  peaceful yoga girl

You are in control of your thoughts and feelings.  Jealousy is a product of the way you think about the events of life.  When you feel the pang of insecurity, low self worth, or jealousy, pause and practice gratitude.  Switch your attention to three things you are thankful for right now, in this moment.  I’ll share mine for today – the warm weather, my family, and my cats.  Now what are yours?

“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.” – Cicero

“1st Image courtesy of anankkml/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net”.

“2nd Image courtesy of imagerymajestic / FreeDigitalPhotos.net”.

About Heather Edwards

Heather Edwards is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, Board Certified Coach, & National Certified Counselor. She is a frequent contributor to Psychology Today. She provides individual therapy, couples therapy, corporate coaching, career coaching, and life coaching.
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2 Responses to Got Jealousy?  How to stop the downward spiral.

  1. Ann Vanino says:

    This is a great article. In my own experience jealousy came in a disguise. I kept wishing I were as “famous” as others. I realized (and it made a big difference) that I had my own path and could not to compare my journey to others. When I did, it freed me to be who I am. Jealousy went away, replaced by a stronger sense of self.

    • Thank you, Ann. You’re absolutely right! Comparison plays tricks on us. When we shift our focus toward our own true selves and embrace our unique talents and strengths, we’re free to be even stronger than we imagined.

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