Have you ever experienced that feeling that just sneaks up on you, defying reason or control, tightening its vice-like grip on you mind? Have you ever felt that green-eyed monster take over you? Sometimes it just consumes your thinking.
It first happened in your family, when your sister got the dress you preferred and you sulked for a while, demanding that it should be yours. Your actions were condemned and you nursed your wounds secretly. It didn’t stop there, your result came out at school and you came out in the second position, a few marks below your best friend’s score. You congratulated her while secretly wishing she would just move out of town or die or something so you would be the best in the class. On and on it goes, your best friend being the center of attraction when you both are out on social events, your dress turning out to be less attractive than someone else who is wearing the same dress, losing a promotion to another, watching your friend being picked up by a guy you had been hoping would notice you, the list is endless. Yet you just sit back, fuming in your mind, wishing something could just happen to turn the tables, feeling guilty for harbouring such thoughts and still reluctant to stop. Sometimes you even go ahead to act on your thoughts. Envy is usually triggered when you compare yourself with others and feel that you come short of your evaluation.
The green-eyed twin sisters!
Jealousy and envy are twin sisters with exact same colour of eyes – green. Jealousy strikes both men and women when they perceive a third-party threat to a valued relationship, and that distinguishes it from envy, which involves wanting something someone else has. We all, especially women, at one time or the other have cavorted with either of them but some people have mastered the art of hiding it, some have learned to rise above it while others resort to giving full expression to it. It happens to every one irrespective of gender, race, social status, academic status, etc. In fact, the more ambitious you are, the more likely to experience this emotion. Envy has to do with feeling unhappy about the success of someone else, or about what they have and, at the same time, secretly feeling inferior yourself. Instead of finding success for yourself or improving yourself, you may be envious and want what another person has or find yourself wishing that the other person would lose that quality or possession in order to make things seem fair to you. It has its roots in competition and comparison. The unconscious form of envy is typically malignant and can cause trouble with anxiety, stress, unhappiness, stagnation, and poor performance.
Be your own best cheerleader!
- My first advice is – love yourself! Don’t become vain or arrogant, just accept who you are and the way you are. You are unique and you have the potential to be the best at anything, it doesn’t matter who’s been there before you.
- Set realistic goals for yourself! The values against which you measure yourself are likely to change as you mature and as you learn to evaluate your potentialities and accept your limitations. If you have realistic ideals and can generally live up to them, your self-esteem will not be threatened. If your ideals are exaggerated and you cannot reach them, your good feelings from successes may be short lived and you may feel that you are never good enough and will envy others.
- Learn to celebrate other people’s achievements! You don’t know how hard they have worked to get to where they are besides, good things are also in store for you even if you have not received it.
- Be patient with yourself! If someone has what you would love to have, just work towards getting it and be patient with yourself.
- Finally, if you can’t stop envy or jealousy from taking hold of your mind, just talk to the father in prayer and pray for that person. Try it and you’ll get a different perspective on your feelings.
Oh yes, every one has experienced it at one time or the other. Sometimes it is so intense you can almost feel it like a physical presence. At other times, you can easily dismiss it, reminding yourself that it is an unnecessary emotion to feel. It has often been said that jealousy is not entirely bad. After all God referred to himself as a jealous God. However, it becomes bad when it prompts you to take wrong or harmful decisions and actions.
So when are you going to stop? A saying goes thus, ‘the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence’. We are always wishing we could just have what someone else has, thinking that we’d become happier. Is that so? Would you like to live in such a big mansion like your friend Emilia who has three siblings and knows neither of them has the same dad. Or would you prefer that promotion that Sarah got by doing unimagineable things with customers. Or would you like to do the same things the girl with the ‘brazillian hair’ did to buy it. Or maybe you would rather be the one that got married to Justin who hits your friend Binta anytime he feels like. What you are envious of may not even be the best for you. You’ll end up wasting valuable time which you could have used to carve your own niche, to chase after someone else’s achievement just so you can measure up. We are humans and it is only human to feel jealousy. The question is how have you handled the emotions you feel. Has it motivated you to make greater achievements or are you feeling sorry for yourself and getting depressed. While it is true that the person you are envious of may seem to be having it all so smoothly, always remember that you should only aim to be the best ‘you’ you can be and you are your own yardstick for measuring your achievement!