“There is always room at the top” - Daniel Webster
In my experience talking about the subject of jealousy, I have found it to be received as a rather controversial topic. Many people seem afraid or ashamed of themselves when they are jealous, as if it is somehow inherently unnatural. Especially amongst creatives. Jealousy though is a normal emotion, and part of the human experience. Like every emotion, it can fuel unhelpful behaviours, or it can be used to motivate us toward understanding our true needs and wants in life. Here I give you my reasons below why you should start listening to your inner thoughts and feelings, and learn to love your green eyed monster…
My Perspective on Jealousy
My truth about jealousy is that as a child growing up I experienced a lot of it. At the time it was fustrating mostly because I didn’t understand why I felt the way I did. I had a lot of ideas I wanted to realise, both creatively and in my personal life and when I saw others realising theirs it was often painful, because I felt so far from my own. New Zealand is the land of opportunity but it is also home to tall poppy syndrome. I have witnessed many people actively expressing their desires for others to fail, as a way to make themselves feel less insecure. It’s something that needs to change. So I believe the first thing to understand about jealousy, is that it is an inherently good thing simply because of it’s intensity. Jealousy and passion go hand in hand. I look back on my past now, and see that every time I was feeling envious of someone it was because they were connected to something I felt very strongly about. Where there is jealousy there is love, and some people may disagree with that sentiment but I believe that the first step to overcoming your own feelings of envy is to first embrace them. Jealousy tells us that we believe in something, we care a great deal about something, and the fact we exist for that greater purpose is beautiful because there is a deeper meaning to life that we are seeking. Jealousy is a great big flashing sign, outlining the destination on your map in life, love and vocation.
Jealousy vs. Inspiration
Secondly, jealousy occurs because in some way we are not fully aware of what life requires of us to attain our object of desire. It comes from flawed thinking, believing that we are ‘owed’ certain things in life, work and love. But all things must be earned in whatever form, and herein lies the power. Jealousy is comparative by nature. Initially this can feel like a bad thing, as we are taught not to compare ourselves to others, focus on our own paths and ignoring others around us and their success. But I feel differently, and I feel our focus should be on how we compare ourself to others. Jealousy signals to us what we want, it can also show us how to achieve it. When we feel envious for what someone has, instead of hiding from that feeling, envy can be turned into inspiration. By embracing it, we can view jealousy as a window to our own future rather than the object of someone else’s grasp. Now all the success, and beauty in others is reflected in us, and our potential within. This way, jealousy doesn’t cripple our choices, it opens us up to experiencing the joy in what others have created, and using that passion to recreate it for ourselves.
“Comparison is the thief of joy” - Theodore Roosevelt
How to Embrace Jealousy for Yourself: A Step by Step Method
Understanding jealousy as an emotion and as a tool is useful, but theory is pointless without the ability to put it into practice! So I’ve put together a step by step process on how to work through your own feelings of jealousy when you experience them, and you can learn from your feelings and start to embrace them!
Mindfulness. The process of turning envy into inspiration starts with paying attention to when, and how you feel jealous. Keep a diary, or make a daily list of times and situations when you felt jealous, what triggered it and whether there are any common themes. Take a few weeks to observe your own experience.
Explore it. Get curious, discuss your discoveries with a friend or someone you trust so that you can explore your feelings in hindsight, and pinpoint what it was that made you feel jealous. I find it helpful to focus on ways of being. How was the person you were jealous of “being”, and how/why do you wish you were that way/had that too?
Be Honest with Yourself. Once you’ve discovered the cause of your feelings, and identified the nature of what it is you wish you had, be honest with yourself about what it requires to get that thing or be that way, by asking yourself: Do I really want to create this in my life? Am I prepared to put the work in? Do I want to put the work in? Is this truly important to me?
Commit. Once you’ve answered those questions, commit to your decision. Now that you’ve paid attention to the feeling, you can either actively choose to let it go. If you decide you don’t truly want the object of your envy, you can focus your energy on new paths. Or if you decide you really do want to create this for yourself, you can commit to making it happen in your life! Embrace the journey ahead of you by realising your passion with an earnest mindset.
Be Flexible. Keep an open mind, check in with yourself from time to time. I have found that although sometimes jealousy can signal a desire to achieve a certain goal, after some time that can change as do wants and needs. Be prepared to let things go if you need to, it’s okay to change your mind as you go through life, and what you commit to at one time may be different down the road. The joy is in the journey and success or failure is never the end, it’s just a label.
Acknowledge. Lastly, keep yourself on the forefront of mindfulness by actively choosing to acknowledge and appreciate other’s success, and allow yourself to feel inspired by others. Instead of a win-lose scenario, I view it as a win-win. When others succeed, then we celebrate. It is possible, it has been done, and now you know you can do it too!
What do you think? Let me know your thoughts on jealousy below, and any tips you have for working with it in the creative life! You can follow more of my creative philosophical musings over on Instagram ♡
Photographer. Creator. Dreamer ♥