Why am I jealous? How to learn from jealousy and let it go

Recently I ran into a mom I know - a friend of a friend - at the park. I hadn’t seen her for a while, and she filled me in on what she and her family had been up to recently. As she was talking, I could feel myself feeling more and more uncomfortable. It felt like jealousy. She told me about how she and her family had moved recently - a community change that brought them more in line with their life priorities. She went on to say that she had been really paying attention to her family’s consumption patterns, and how much she appreciated the wealth of health food stores, second hand furniture and clothing options, and eco-goods in her new community. As she talked, I thought about how I’d been shopping at Target a lot lately. Why am I jealous? Noticing what you feel jealous about can be so educational.  It can teach you where you need to make a change.She told me how she had switched her son from public school to the local Waldorf school, and how he was thriving. He was even learning to knit! The had also had another baby since I’d seen her, and she spoke of how happy she was to be at home and playing with her children. She had closed down the food blog she’d been running, so she could have more time with her kids. I thought about how I’d been bribing my daughter with screen time that week, because I was trying to get a project finished. And how much I craved alone time every single day.I wanted to feel as delighted with my life as she obviously did. I want to feel aligned and conscious and connected with my family andI was envious of that life she was telling me about. What was that uncomfortable feeling? I was jealous! Why am I jealous of my friend? Right behind feeling jealous, I also started to beat myself up. Because I’d like to be someone who pays attention to where my dollars go all the time, but I’m not. So that makes me a bad person. I’d like to feel confident that my daughter is getting the exact education she needs. Instead, I’m willing to settle for the school that feels pretty good (and is free). So that makes me a bad parent. I’d like to be the kind of mom who delights in every utterance her child makes, and is willing to set aside my own life for them. Actually I don’t want that, but I feel like I SHOULD want that, so my lack of wanting it makes me both a bad person and a bad parent. And my friend was telling me how happy she was with her life but I was so wrapped up in feeling jealous that I couldn’t even be happy for her.That definitely makes me a bad person!Have you been here? You aren’t a bad person.

Ok. But why am I jealous?

If you are feelingl jealous of someone else’s life, pay attention. You probably don’t really want their life wholesale. But there might be a glimmer of something there that you can learn from. What exactly is it that you feel jealous about? Get really specific. Your friend just got a book deal, and your green eyed monster is doing a dance about it. But you’ve never really wanted to write a book. So what’s up? Why am I jealous of her book?Maybe you want to be recognized for something you are good at. Perhaps you envy the way she has had single-minded focus on her goal of writing a book, but you haven’t been able to create that focus in your own life. Or maybe it is something more to the side, like you are envious of the support you think she has from her partner to pursue this project, and you don’t feel like you have that kind of support. What do you need to shift in your life in response to that knowledge?

Noticing what you feel jealous about can be so educational.

It can teach you where you need to make a change.When I sat down with my jealous feelings and was able to look underneath them, this is what I discovered: 

  • It is important to me to make conscious consumer choices. 
  • I want more creativity in my life, and I want to share that with with my daughter. 
  • I’ve been spending a lot of time away from my daughter recently and I miss her.

Now this is information I can do something with! And instead of feeling stuck in that icky feeling of jealousy, I’m now curious and excited. How do I bring these things into my life?My next post will be about how to take planned action to create the things you desire, so stay tuned for that. 

Your action plan for when you feel jealous:

  1. Just notice the feeling. “Oh, this is jealousy.”
  2. Pause the inner critic. “I shouldn’t feel like this!” isn’t actually very helpful. You do feel like this, but it is just a feeling. 
  3. Do some thinking or journaling about what that jealousy feels like. Get really specific. What are you REALLY jealous of? 
  4. Try to identify the where in your life you need to change something to get closer to that thing you want. 
  5. Notice how you feel. Better? Have you shifted into curious or excited? If not, keep digging!

Once you have your list of things you’d like to change, start taking clear, concise action to move yourself in that direction. If you aren’t sure how to do that. check out the (upcoming) post on taking steps to create the life you desire.