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9 Ways to Overcome Jealousy

Photo by Ernie Land

Have you ever felt yourself resenting another person just because of their perceived success? Do you hear yourself justifying their success with some trivial reason so that you can easily dismiss them (and consequently feel good about yourself)? Through my experiences, I have come to learn that this instinctive emotion is merely trying to protect our ego, by burying our inadequacies and insecurities. Our mind is at work protecting us in the comforts of our little cocoon shell. But to what benefit does it serve?

Not only is the feeling of jealousy not conducive for relationship building and effective communication, but it just doesn’t us feel very good. Can you relate? That uncomfortable tightness in your stomach? Why do we put ourselves through it?

In relationships, this emotion is so pervasive and instantaneous that people fail to take time, step back and evaluate it. It breaks communication, compassion and damages relationships. I know that I have been jealous and I am intimately aware of the impact it can have on a relationship. When we are in a state of jealousy, we are operating in a state of instinctual survival mode. We are acting out of scarcity. In this state, we are irrational and the only thing we can think about is ourselves. We fail to consider the feelings and impact of our behavior on other people. But when we operate from a place of abundance, we unleash the human spirit, think compassionately towards others. We can free ourselves from negative emotions.

In a workplace, jealousy can be the fear of disrespect from our peers (“if she is better than me, then I will be replaced.”); thus unloved. In a business, the fear of loss in market-share, sales, customers and bankruptcy; thus unloved.

I learned that my jealousy was very much driven from my ego’s cry for attention. Deep down inside, I was just a little child, arms wrapped around myself, scared and wanting to be loved.

The following are methods to help reduce and eliminate this negative thought pattern:

  • Fully Experience the Feeling – By telling yourself not to feel jealous, you will never be able to get out of it. “What we resist persists”. But if we bring awareness into the equation and deeply understand the situation, we’ll start to eliminate the negative emotions. Allow yourself to fully feel the feeling of jealousy. By facing the emotion directly and fully experiencing it, you’ll see that the feeling will start to diminish. I have also found this experience to work with anger towards another, and fear of a situation.Find a place alone where you won’t be disturbed. Close your eyes, and start to feel the jealousy. Observe where that feeling is coming from? How is it reflecting in your body? Does your throat feel tight? Is it your stomach? Does your heart ache? Become the observer. It’s important to fully allow the feeling to surface. Recognize that it isn’t you, but your ego’s crave for attention in the name of survival. Keep observing, and in a few seconds you’ll see that the feeling will slowly disperse. By practicing this, “you can move beyond the ego’s perspective and see reality from the perspective of a higher consciousness.””To overcome jealousy, just see how the jealousy came into your system, just analyze the sequence of thoughts and emotions in your system and then undo it by reasoning out the whole process with your intelligence.”
    — Swamiji Nithyananda
  • Love Yourself“If you don’t fully accept and love yourself as you are, you could be more prone to comparing yourself to others as a way of artificially boosting your feeling of self-worth.” — Steve PavlinaSelf worth comes with self appreciation and love. People who are truly comfortable and secure with themselves, rarely let jealousy get in the way. Look within, spend time with yourself, get to know the real you. Choose to focus on yourself, instead of the person you are jealous of. Use your understanding of desires and your mind to change your perception. Know that you have everything you need to be whole, happy and complete right inside of you. Know that if you feel something is missing that you can have it, you can achieve it.




  • Stop Comparing – Nithyananda said, “Comparison is the seed and jealousy is the fruit!”. Comparison leads to jealousy, and both are mind-created states. “Our mind is so caught up in comparison that it misses the actual quality of what it sees. We need to drop the comparing attitude to be able to see things as they are.” (Nithyananda). Start by appreciating the differences. See the benefits of you uniqueness.It is helpful to be reminded that there is no end to comparison, because there is no end to our expectations. Remember the last time you fulfilled a desired goal? Or received something you wanted? What happened to it 4 weeks later? Did you still appreciate it as much?”Mind is that Illusion which shows a tiny mustard seed to be a huge mountain until it is attained, and a mountain to be as insignificant as a mustard seed once it has been attained!
    — Raman Maharshi
  • Find What’s Threatening You? – Ask yourself and see what is it about yourself that you feel is being threatened? What are you insecure about? What are you afraid to lose? What is it that you believe you deserve? Once you understand what this is, decide to overcome this insecurity with a rough plan. See how you can see the situation from a place of abundance rather than scarcity?
  • Write It Out – I’ve always found it helpful to think on paper. By writing down your thoughts, it gives you an opportunity to express yourself, but also lays your options out clearly on paper. It’s like seeing the city from an airplane, you have a clearer vision of the big-picture. Ask yourself “Why do I feel this way?” Write out all your reasons out on paper. Write without editing, jot down anything that comes to mind. You can organize the information later. Once you have all your reasons, write beside each one what you can do about it. Dig deep within yourself, find insight from your uncertainty.
  • Be Realistic – Ask yourself,
    • Is the person really a threat to you? To your relationship? To your business?
    • Is what you are feeling or doing creating any benefits for anyone involved? If it doesn’t feel very good and it’s not helping you, then does it make sense to continue feeling this way?
    • Is there a lesson I can learn here? What is the inspiration I can gain from this situation?
  • Find Your Strength – Focus on your strengths and unique qualities. Feel gratitude for the gifts you have and abilities that you are blessed with. Once you identify what they are, then shift your focus.
  • Shift Your Focus – When we are feeling negative, it is sometimes difficult to think rationally. We are so focused on the negative feeling that we lose the big picture. Change your current emotional state by shifting your attention to something completely different. Like go for a jog, or start doing the dishes. Once you’ve cool down, come back to the situation with a clear and open mind.
  • “Is this what we want for ourselves?” – By feeling this way, we are giving this emotion our attention, in the process we are attracting to us like situations and perceptions for us to continue feeling this negative emotion. “What we sew is what we reap”. If you were in their shoes, would you want the same? How do you think the other person feel? Put yourself in their position. When I find someone more successful in my field, I celebrate their success as if it was my own, and I use their case as an example to model after.

How do you handle Jealousy? Share your experiences and insights in the comments.

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About the author

Tina Su is a mom, a wife, a lover of Apple products and a CHO (Chief Happiness Officer) for our motivational community: Think Simple Now. She is obsessed with encouraging and empowering people to lead conscious and happy lives. Subscribe to new inspiring stories each week. You can also subscribe to Tina on Facebook.

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136 thoughts on 9 Ways to Overcome Jealousy

  1. This was a really great post, I have used a lot of these “techniques” in the past, when I wanted to “overcome” jealousy. Thanks :)

  2. Hi Tina,

    “When we are in a state of jealousy, we are operating in a state of instinctual survival mode.”

    I agree with you on this.

    Will the human instinct make it hard for us to apply the 9 steps?

    What’s your take? :)

    Thanks. ;)

  3. Nice quote by Ramana Maharshi.

    I think the best way is to try and feel a sense of oneness with other people who have achieved good things

  4. Tina, your translation of the exercise of observing feelings of jealousy is outstanding. Something so simple yet so helpful. Still, on the surface, I’m afraid to sit down and practice something so painful yet ultimately relieving. This is tied in with the looming issue of dishonesty I have with myself. Thank you for this post.

  5. Chris, you make a good point. I’ve struggled with the same myself in the past. Still do, once in a while. The only real answer is to learn to trust yourself. Learn to be gentle with yourself. Realize and recognize that no matter what you find, you will still love yourself. Keep running that through your head until you can brave the fears. In my experience, when you finally get there, you’ll find that the fear was greater than the actual cause.

  6. @Raymond,

    Hi, :) Yes, I think human instinct will make make it challenging, you know what it feels like, we’ve all been there: we all know what the right thing to do sometimes, but when we are in that state, it’s challenging to think rationally.

    I think the trick is to first get ourselves out of that irrational state first. For me, I get out of the irrational state by changing my physiology, like suddenly doing jumping-jacks or get up to do the dishes. And then I start to rationalize once my mind clears a little. Item 1 is the one that’s help me most in the past.

    The thing is not to apply all 9. They serve as a reminder the tools we have. Use them as you see fit that best work for you. Hope that make sense. :)

    Tina

  7. Hi Tina,

    Great article! I’d love to add that jealousy sometimes stems from observing others embrace the potential that we ourselves hold, but are afraid of moving into. We see that what is possible for them is possible for us, also … if only we would dare overcome our fear. Jealousy is a way of making fear about someone else, rather than about ourselves.

    If my little green-eyed monster rears, I remind myself that this is a signal to me that I, too, can accomplish what another person has accomplished. It reminds me to look at the reasons why I may not yet have embraced my potential in that area.

    I agree that jealousy arises out of lack-mentality. Everything is equally available to us all, and when we overcome jealousy, those we were previously jealous of can serve to inspire us in our own growth.

    Blessings,
    Andrea

  8. Kirstie

    Great advise and deeper thoughts into jealousy. Very interesting techniques for combating it and easy to keep in mind.
    Thanks Tina. :)

  9. This is a great post on jealousy and how to understand it. Then how to recognise it and overcome it.

    Doug
    Relationship Coach
    http://www.dougwoods.com

  10. @Chris McCorkle – Thank you! I appreciate it. I feel the same about fully feeling out the negative feelings. The last time I did the jealousy one, it was really quite painful. I could literally physically feel the pain surfacing on my body, I cried. But a few seconds later, the feeling started evaporating.. and eventually, it just didn’t bother me anymore. Thank you again for the encouraging words. They made me smile. :)

    @John – These are beautiful words: “Realize and recognize that no matter what you find, you will still love yourself. Keep running that through your head until you can brave the fears.” Thank you for sharing. You must be a great coach! :)

    @Andrea — Wow, beautifully written! I agree completely. I like switching the jealous instinct into a source for inspiration and possibilities for ourselves. That’s a great outlook. :)

    To Tejvan Pettinger, Alex Kay, Kirstie and Douglas Woods: Thank you so much for commenting and for sharing your thoughts. Much loved and appreciated.

    Tina

  11. Tina, this is an excellent article to help people deal with those times when jealousy sneaks in!

  12. WOW, you really nailed the point when you said that people who are jealous act out of scarcity. so true. helpful post tina

  13. You can use a NLP technique known as reframing. It’s basically making use of a complex equivalence (One example of a Milton Model Language Pattern) and saying that A = B.

    Eg. A = He bought gifts for her but not me

    A typical B in many people’s mind would be: He likes her and he doesn’t like me.

    In reframing, the B could be: That means he is a thoughtful man who is full of surprises.

  14. Just to add on to the last part of the reframing example… the conclusion would be “I’m so lucky to have him as my boyfriend”

  15. Tina:

    Very interesting article. I like the part about becoming an observer and observed at the same time. For me, when I’m feeling any kind of emotion, it’s in the stomach region. That’s where I feel excitement, fear, jealousy, happiness, anger, etc.

  16. Hi Tina,

    What a well-put-together article – a solid list of strategies that people can use to overcome their jealousy. Thanks also for the link!

    -Neil
    Getting to the Heart of Personal Development

  17. Hi Tina,

    As a visual artist I get to compare my work to others quite a bit, purposely or not. I can see where comparing can lead to jealousy, but I don’t think it has to. It can instead lead to personal and professional growth.

    Your “experience the feeling” exercise is so important and I can tell you described it from your personal experience of it. I have practiced mind-body disciplines for decades, so I have sat quietly with my feelings. As Chris points out in a previous comment, it can be intimidating to embrace the truth. A little practice though goes a long way. The bonus is that it quickly begins to feel good — even delicious — to do this. The trick is to begin; the rest will follow.

    accepting without judgment, what we feel, is not always easy, but it is always rewarding. I struggle with many things within me that detract from my best, but when I see someone who is succeeding and is happy, I celebrate it. It makes me happy in that moment because I know that we are all in this pot together. If all the ingredients are good, it will be tasty soup.

    On that note, I have to say how much I like your web site. I am going to be reworking my art web site, and I will also be building a blog site. Your work here is a fine inspiration. Your photography site rocks as well. Love your work.

    Cheers,
    John

  18. It’s good advice. But what if the person does not admit that he or she is jealous? How is this handled? I guess the road to becoming a better person is to first admit that we are not perfect and that we have our faults and shortcomings. : (

  19. Hi Claire, If a person does not admit it than there isn’t much we can do without force. :) We could try to reason with them, but often times, that can turn into a battle of egos, people sticking with their decision for the sake of protecting their egos (I’ve fallen into this trap before). The first step towards any change is recognizing that we need to change to better our lives. No one else can do this for us. And we can’t do this for other people.

    One thing you may try if you are in a relationship with a jealous personality, is to be honest with them, tell them how it makes YOU feel. It’s important to not point fingers, but to say, when such-and-such situation happens, it makes you feel this way.

  20. Signe

    I like. I like. Happiness sure does seem based on our capacity to be grateful.

  21. Gerard Sorme

    Very good. However, it should be pointed out (and I’m surprised it hasn’t been already) that your post is actually about envy – not jealousy (which relates to threats in a relationship). Two different animals.

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