Why You’ve Never Been Jealous

by Melissa Karnaze

Jealous little girl wanting her brother's mobile phoneYou’ve probably never been jealous.

And I mean, really jealous.

Sure, your cheeks may flush red when you see your sweetheart laughing at someone else’s jokes. Your breath may shorten when your dog drops his Frisbee at a stranger’s feet. You may want to push your younger sibling away when they start to handle your iPod.

But these are only glimpses of jealousy. They’re nothing compared to the real thing.

The real thing takes courage to feel.

And you’ve never felt the real thing, because frankly, it’s too scary for you.

It’s too scary for all of us.

Because society has dysfunctionally believed that feeling jealousy is a no-no.

Embrace you inner jealous

You can rationalize the feeling of jealousy “away” all you want. You can even try to journal it away, by writing out your fears and working your way to self confidence. It will work, in the interim — before jealousy strikes again. And you can try the same mental defenses, but they won’t hold out for long.

That’s because nothing works better for dealing with jealousy than facing it head on — than integrating it in full force, and consciously so.

I mean, really feeling it.

I mean, sitting yourself down, and saying to yourself, “Okay, I’m going to feel jealous, right now, for as long as I want to.”

And then doing it, for long as it takes —

– because it won’t take as long as you’d think.

Why you need to feel jealous

We’ve misconceived jealously as something that will last a lifetime, that will eat out our souls if we let it. That will lead us on rampage after rampage of revenge and lust and violence.

But when you really let yourself feel jealous, it will naturally fade away because it’s not meant to be felt for long. After several minutes, you’ll probably forget that you were supposed to be sitting down specifically to feel jealous, because you will get bored with it.

Think about the last time you saw a toddler throw a tantrum in public. All they wanted was to have the right to their tantrum.

If an upset child can fuss and cry and let it all out — without Mommy or Daddy trying to shush them up — they will be fine once the show’s all done and gone.

They’ll be so fine, that they’ll walk up and go do something else, forgetting their tantrum altogether.

Children are resilient like that. All they need is validation — and then they can take on the world.

We were once like that too — before we started telling ourselves the story that our emotions are not be trusted, but to stifled and shushed and shunned. Before we started to label jealousy as the ultimate evil, the embodiment of total immaturity, one of the greatest taboos, and the sign of human weakness.

Jealousy will fade

W.G. Parrott, in Emotions in Social Psychology, says that jealousy “may be said to occur when a person either fears losing or has already lost an important relationship with another person to a rival (Parott 307).”

So jealousy is a perception that someone will take or has taken something from you that you cannot recover.

When you let yourself really feel jealous — really feel that that desired thing or person is lost from you for all eternity — you’ll realize soon enough: “This is a waste of my energy. I have better things to do with my time. I have other ways to attain what I want. If I ‘lose’ my relationship with Bobby to Sally, then Bobby didn’t value me enough in the first place. I’m not codependent. No person can take away my happiness. I’m independent, totally capable of going after my life dreams by my own initiation!”

And again, you’ll only get this after you’ve felt the jealousy. If you skipped that part, anything after is just mental exercise, rationalization that sounds great on paper, but lacks the substance of real experience.

Time to get jealous

Forget everything society has told you about jealousy. It’s only going to shush your tantrum, and put a damper on your own resilience.

The next time you feel jealousy seeping through, sit down and say hello. Feel it. Have your tantrum. The sooner you do, the sooner you can move onto something else.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Austin Wyss June 25, 2009 at 12:28 pm

Very interesting article! And it makes sense – shushing our emotions is never healthy. But for some reason jealousy has remained taboo.

Melissa Karnaze June 26, 2009 at 6:11 pm

Yeah Austin, it’s amazing how jealousy is so taboo — when it really is so simple to work through.

Jonathan December 9, 2011 at 1:09 am

You are the best!
thank you.

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