How to turn your jealousy into a positive
Rebecca Reid felt her jealousy was consuming her – so she tackled it…
A few months ago, a close friend got seriously fit, won a pay rise and bought a new flat. And instead of being happy for her, I was bitter. I could hardly bring myself to tell her how good she looked or how proud I was of her.
I realised my jealousy was poisoning me. I decided I needed to learn to use it as a force for good. I vowed that every time I felt a pang of jealousy, I’d write down what caused it. If the same issue ended up on the list more than twice in a month, it was something I needed to work on.
‘It can be healthy to use jealousy to propel yourself forward,’ psychologist Gill Bond told me. ‘Using it to spur yourself and take active steps towards happiness is much more helpful than just looking at someone else and asking why they have things that you don’t have.’
Here’s your six step how-to guide to harnessing jealousy in a good way.
Use it to focus your mind
Sometimes, we don’t know what we want in life and jealousy can give us guidance. For a long time, I would find myself getting frustrated with friends who could afford to buy homes. So, I spun that jealousy into a plan. I found a rental with a more relaxed decoration policy; being able to paint was what I yearned for most. And I started to save in earnest for a deposit, rather than chucking a fiver in my savings account every six months, so now I’m on my way to owning my own place.
Do the work
One of the people in my life I envy most is a toned yogi called Jane. She seems to float through life and looks good in everything she wears. But actually, she works bloody hard for it. You need to recognise that the things other people have that you covet are probably the result of their lifestyle choices. You can emulate those choices, and you might well achieve similar results, but you need to be clear about how much work you’re willing to put in and what changes you’re willing to make.
Use it as a compliment
Telling someone you’re jealous of something they have is the purest compliment you can give. It’s a way of telling them how amazing you think they are, and it’s actually really humble to admit that you wish you could do or have the same thing. Try telling someone that you’re jealous of their promotion, dress or relationship. They’ll be delighted.
keep a sense of perspective
We know what we see on Instagram isn’t a realistic representation of people’s lives. It’s posed, airbrushed and posted because it’s probably a moment outside of the norm. Gill says, ‘It’s important to keep a sense of perspective. Their lifestyle might seem impressive but it doesn’t mean they’re happy.’ Do you envy people’s friendship groups because you’ve been lax in keeping up with yours? Does someone’s wealth wind you up because it’s been years since you asked for a pay rise? Use social media as an insight into your own life, not as something to try to copy.
Boost your willpower
Determination is easy to find but hard to maintain. We’ve all sworn on a Sunday night that we’ll batch-cook and fit in a 5k run every evening – then bought Pret lunches and had pub sessions by Wednesday. I’ll never have killer willpower but now, when someone suggests another bottle of rosé, I remember the people I’m jealous of and I ask myself what they would do. Sometimes I say ‘screw it’ and stay out, but sometimes the thought makes me head home in time to get a decent night’s sleep.
The key to ‘jealousy power’ is rationing. There aren’t enough hours in the day to have the perfect relationship, home, career and friends, topped off with a toned body and healthy self-esteem. Work out what it is that makes you the most envious. What do you struggle to congratulate friends on, even when you really want to be able to? That’s where you need to put the work.