Thursday, July 22, 2010

Piece of Advice #57: Circumvent your jealous thought patterns

In the comments section of my post, "A word of clarification on this blog," an anonymous commenter left this:
I was hoping you could post something on dealing with jealousy, specifically jealousy toward more attractive girls and how to deal with it. I have a HUGE problem with jealousy. :(
Two thoughts on jealousy:

  • Jealousy is a matter of comparison.  We, all of us, have any number of attributes - looks, brains, wealth, talent, status, charisma.  Most people aren't standouts in any one area; they tend toward the average.  But even the standouts, the beauties, the geniuses, the star athletes, most excel in one area and are less stellar in other ways.  So first, there are any number of things you can compare yourself to with others.  Secondly, you can compare yourself to people who are better than you in these categories, people who are roughly as the same, or people who are worse.  This is a choice.  If you are constantly comparing yourself to people who are better looking than you are and have more success with men, you will always be unhappy.  There will always be people who are smarter, more beautiful, more charming, what have you.  Always.  But there are probably people who are dumber, uglier, poorer, or meaner as well.  Comparing yourself to them won't be so depressing.  From your comment, I would guess you have people in your life who you think have it better and are pretty regularly comparing yourself to them.  A mental exercise I would suggest you practice would be to focus instead on someone you can point to in your life as less advantaged than you every time those jealous thoughts arise.  Really work on it.  Also make it a habit to count your blessings.  When you are around people who provoke jealous thoughts, shift your thoughts back gratitude for what you have instead.  I realize this is hard.  I have had times in my life where have struggled with the green jealousy monster with varying degrees of success.  The worst for me was when I was going through infertility.  Suddenly it seemed everyone I knew was pregnant or had adorable little babies or toddlers.  They would say things like, "I swear, he just looks at me and I'm pregnant again."  And I would see red.  Or green, if you will.  It was a very unhappy time for me, and it wasn't the fault of all the pregnant women and new parents.  It was because I couldn't - absolutely could not for a time - get beyond the unfairness of life.  Which brings us to the next point:
  • Jealousy harms you and only you.  By letting it conquer you, you make yourself - and no one else - unhappy.  Those golden people who sweep through life, coasting on their fabulousness?  They're still going to be golden and fabulous.  But you will be miserable and angry.  And nothing will have changed.  Jealousy relies on comparison and you will always have something else about yourself or your life to compare.  If I could hit you with the pretty wand and make you as beautiful as you want to be, jealousy could still suck you in because there will be girls who would be more charming, more flirtatious, wealthier, more stylish - whatever.  If you learn to develop a sense of peace and gratitude for who you are intrinsically, jealousy will not be able to bring you down.  You will have mastered it.  

5 comments:

  1. Excellent advice/analysis. One point you touch on that I would stress more is that humility will make you a better person. Ironically vanity and jealousy/self pity are two sides to the same coin. Your advice to notice what others are struggling with will help with both.

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  2. So true. I used to sell cosmetics in a department store, and all the women I worked with were very pretty. It was definitely an eye-opener and made me realize that pretty is a dime a dozen- you need to work on your personality and other achievements to distinguish yourself. Also, if I may indulge myself for a moment, I can also say that, being pretty, or beautiful, or whatever else, is very, very, fleeting. If the only reason a person gets attention is because of their looks, then it will be a very hard day when they realize that isnt going to get them through life anymore. Bottom line, its fine, even great ,to be pretty. But its ALWAYS better to be kind, and a good person. I always tell people that tell me I am beatiful that I hope the outside is a reflection of what is on the inside. Nuff said :)

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  3. My mother wasn't a pretty women - she just wasn't, and she knew it. She always wondered whether life would have been different if she had been. Yet, she was kind, generous, loving and had a wonderful sense of humor and loved to laugh. She didn't feel talented or gifted in any way, but people loved being around her. Her gift was her love and her joy.
    As to the above advice, I think it is right on the money. The only addition I would make is keep trying. Keep looking at what is right in your life. It is something that takes practice and sometimes a lot of practice but once cultivated, it leaves you at peace. You realize you are good enough just as you are.

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  4. make it a habit to count your blessings. When you are around people who provoke jealous thoughts, shift your thoughts back gratitude for what you have instead. I realize this is hard.

    I would say that anyone really struggling to count their blessings should visit or volunteer at their local children's hospital. But be forewarned, images of kids facing massive challenges won't go away easily, probably never.

    Or if you live in the right area go read to the guys and gals coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan who lost one or more limbs, etc.

    There but for the grace of God (go I)

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