A client came in and told me that she felt terrible. “Why?” I ask.
“Well, I was with a friend and she told me that she landed her dream job. Making four times as much as me. I wanted to be happy for her, but I just felt jealous. I felt like we weren’t in the same league. All I could think was that I could never have what she has.”
Many of us have had this kind of experience. You go to a friend’s beautiful new house. You are happy for her. You are also jealous. You go home and your house looks smaller, dingier. What does this mean? How do you control these uncomfortable feelings? Are you a bad person?
I give clients (and myself) permission to go ahead and feel jealous. I say allow yourself to really feel it, because that very feeling is probably telling you something important about you.
First Ask: Do you really want what the other person has, exactly the way it is? Meaning do you want to do her job in particular? Do you want to do all the things involved in making the money that she makes or do you wish you could just have the money and keep doing the job that you are doing? Or is it something in between? Do you have more to do in your own life that you are leaving undone? For example, Are you not taking the next leap in your own field? Are you staying stuck at a dead end job because you are afraid to put yourself out there and risk changing? Really break it apart. Find the root of the jealousy.
Second Ask: Do I want her whole life? Do I want to live in her neighborhood with her husband (I don’t actually mean HER husband but maybe like his clone) or are you wishing you had her house where you are? Dig into this. 9 times out of 10 clients like more about their own lives than the places that they are drooling over. They will say: No, I don’t want to move. My friends are here. I love living near my friends. But dig deeper here too. Why the jealousy? Where is your rational thinking? Are you caring for your house. Maybe it needs a clean out. Maybe it needs a paint job. Sometimes jealousy is just a signal that we need to up our own self care.
Once you get to a place where you understand what you are feeling you can make the change. You can ACCEPT yourself or make the change you need to make. The best part is that then you can go on and be truly happy for your friend. Because usually you either are exactly where you are supposed to be OR you just got a major gift. A gift of motivation to change exactly where you think you need to change.
Jealousy is an indicator of change that YOU need to make. It has very little to do with the other person.
I remember reading cheesy money books in the 90’s about how you should hang out with people who are where you want to be. I thought it was superficial and stupid. However,in the spirit of the idea that there is a grain of truth in everything, I think we can learn from everyone around us. I think what the authors back then got wrong is that we can learn just as much from someone who has what society considers less than us. We can learn from anyone. Jealousy can creep up anytime. Recently, my husband and I went to a humble resort. In this town the people were connected. They watched out for each other. I felt a tinge of something…maybe jealousy…and I thought. I am going to keep nurturing my relationships back home. It has always been important to me to have community but the people here served as a reminder that relationships matter a great deal. They were rich in relationships. Another couple we talked to had no kids and they traveled. I reminisced on my old joy-traveling which was interrupted by having the children that I so wanted to have. I felt inspired. I felt inspired that when my youngest gets a little older we will hit the road again. This time we could travel with the kids and where they might want to go too. A few weeks after we returned my daughter, learning all about China in school, exclaimed: I want to go to China! I replied: Maybe we will go when your brother is a little older!
Third Ask Yourself: Are you really just inspired? Because if you can melt jealousy into inspiration, people can enliven you. Everyday, they can teach us something. Get out there and see new, amazing sights.
Be jealous. Be inspired.
Nicole C Weiss LCSW
- Phone: 619-318-5012
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org