I’m a journey, I think. I lost my job a year ago, and in that time, I have cultivated a sense of helplessness and anxiety, a constant state of panic and shame. It is not surprising really, that in that time, my anxiety and depression rose, and so did my hopelessness, in spite of all the wonderful things that have happened to me over the last 12 months.
So I’m on a journey to change that, and I think part of it is to talk about it some more, to stop fearing judgment, to stop judging myself before I even give others a choice. With my therapist, I’ve talked a lot about this inner critic, the one who colors every experience in his judgy hue (he’s a guy, I don’t know why, but he feels distinctly masculine). He tells me I’m ugly and useless and small, and that I’ll never amount to anything, but I’m onto him now. He’s on my radar, and I’m on a mission to change the way he makes me think, to set some healthier ideas against his negative ones.
Like gratitude and contentment and trust.
And while I think that positivity is key, I don’t believe in just pushing away all the negative and pretending it’s not there. I think we need to embrace it, understand it, take it apart piece by piece and then let it go.
Today I’ve been thinking about jealousy. Now, jealousy is a strange thing. It’s not envy, exactly. It’s smaller, pettier, more emotionally destructive.
I may envy Jennifer Lawrence or J.K. Rowling, but I’m not jealous of them. I’m jealous of the girl my ex is dating, or the indie writer who sells a few more books than me. I’m jealous of the chubby girl who has a cute boyfriend when I don’t have one, or the friend who can afford to buy herself some nice clothes when I’ve been broke for months. That’s the biting, mean feeling that actually eats at you, not the distant, abstract envy I feel for people so far out of reach they hardly seem real.
A homeless person doesn’t feel jealous of a billionaire. A homeless person feels jealous of the guy down the street, who sleeps under a slightly sturdier piece of cardboard and who makes a few dollars more cash a week.
We tend to be jealous of people we are in competition with over one thing or another – attention, looks, money, anything. But we don’t feel competition. Competition means, that I am pretty much as good as that person and can catch up. I could get a boyfriend, or sell more books, get better. And I feel like jealousy shuts that belief down; jealousy tells me that for one reason or another (sheer damn luck, society, my ineptitude, whatever it may be) this is how it is and all that’s left for me to do is to resent it.
And I really don’t want to feel that way anymore. So here are the three steps I’m working on to release jealousy from my life.
1. Practice conscious gratitude for what I do have.
2. Honestly accept that they deserve what they have just as much as I do, that they are no more or less valuable than me, and that I wish them well.
3. Understand that I am only jealous because we are on the same level, and that nothing is stopping me from achieving what I want to achieve, without the need to compare myself to anyone.
And what does all of that have to do with writing, you ask? I don’t know. Only, that I don’t think I should be writing for any audience if I stopped trying to understand more, trying to dig deeper, and strive for ever more honesty.
How do you feel about jealousy? Does it affect you, too? How do you deal with it?