I sometimes pause to consider what I view on social media. On the “digital scene”, friends, family and complete strangers seemingly post their intimate details. Sharing may include romances, travel, social causes, adventures and car purchases. Some report their breakups, grief and political views. As I scroll through posting after posting, I smile and thank people for helping me grow through their stories and views. Yet occasionally, as I click through pictures and posts, I notice an uncomfortable "something" arising. I try to ignore it, but I begrudgingly discover that I am turning a strange shade of green.
Why do we respond negatively to someone else's happiness? Is this a common human phenomenon?
It's weird, but jealousy is so taboo to admit in public and even harder to tell ourselves. We have a difficult time calling it by its rightful name. Once these jealous and envious feelings start to percolate, we become uncomfortable and out of sorts. Perhaps you can relate. Whether it's a friend or a well-known person's latest fab adventure, gourmet meal or awesome achievement, we feel "less than." We ask, "Why don't I have a body capable of contorting into a perfect pretzel pose? Or, how did I miss that amazing experience?"
Before I get too far in this conversation, it is helpful to note that Jealousy and envy are close cousins and share some similar characteristics. As author Peter van Sommers outlines in his book "Jealousy," "Envy concerns what you would like to have, but don't possess, whereas jealousy concerns what you have and do not wish to lose." Sometimes we swing between the two. Jealousy most often occurs in close relationships. For example, you get jealous when you’re partner spends too much time with a co-worker. Envy is a bit more removed, such as when we want the money or fame or lifestyle not rightly ours at present.
What brings on jealousy, and once it shows up .... What to do?
Acknowledge your feelings and call them out (to yourself) for what they are.
It's not about being afraid or avoiding what's happening on the inside. Honesty matters in these moments!
Re-set your mind.
Stop obsessing. Energize your physical body. Get started with these activities:
Move your body by stomping your feet into the ground.
Shake your body like you stepped out into the freezing cold.
Bend and fold yourself forward at the hips for a few seconds.
Jump up and down like you won the lottery.
Consciously cultivate appreciation for the other person and their efforts and sacrifices along their journey.
Can you open yourself to a place of appreciation and celebration versus jealousy and hurt?
Bless this opportunity for personal growth.
Accept that all human beings craft narratives (life stories) from the perspectives of both ego and spirit. How we manage our feelings and actions becomes our spiritual practice. Spiritual practice is the life-long endeavor of all human beings to align ego to our highest selves. Let us be ever mindful to value love over jealousy and gratitude over envy.