My Mindful Week- Day 2: Dealing with Jealousy

 

It’s a Tuesday morning and you just got back from the gym. Beads of perspiration are racing one another across your forehead and you think, “eh, this is a good time to check up on my Facebook feed while letting my pumping body cool off.” So you did. And boy, was that a big mistake because instead of appreciating your own efforts in finally getting your lazy bum to the gym early on a Tuesday morning, you’re reminded of that one hot friend you have who’s training for a national marathon and just posted a picture of her track.

You envy her dedication and abs of steel.

You check out the news and found that your favorite band is doing yet another European tour and the green monster strikes yet again. Why can’t you be cool and make your band work (never mind the fact that you have zero musical training)? Why aren’t you packed and on board, on your way to a year of crazy world adventure?

Then you proceed to hear from your dear mother that a distant cousin is accepted into a master program in the United States. Like damn! Why can’t you be accepted into a master programs too even if you don’t know for sure you want to suffer two additional years for yet another paper?

The green monster becomes all the more hurtful when you really intend on getting something, yet somebody else gets it! The jealousy you feel for that straight A student in class, or the envy for your friend who finally made it big in the science field.

Rationally, you know. Oh, you know you shouldn’t feel jealous of these people who have theoretically done you no harm, yet, the monster crops up every time you are reminded of what should be.

Being mindful can help you a lot in dealing with this unwanted distracting feeling of envy:

  1. Acknowledge it: I’m serious. Most of us, with our conscience and our sensibility tend to push these uncomfortable feelings away, thinking that to feel envy means we are bad people. Well, feeling envy doesn’t make us bad people. It just makes us, well, people. Don’t push the feeling away. Turn around and take a look at that thing you call “green monster” so vehemently. Don’t judge the feeling, nor yourself. Just acknowledge that you are indeed feeling envious right now.
  2. Breathe in and out: try to look at the creature of envy and just breathe. Again, be mindful of your breathing all the way. If you stray, get carried away by what “should” be yet again, it’s alright. Accept that, and gently nudge your attention back to your breathing and your internal feelings.
  3. Look deep into your history: take a look at the series of events that led to this one single jealous moment. Say, you’re jealous of others being able to be out and proud with their sexuality while you’re here, buried neck deep in your cheap closet. Look into the events that led you here. Your parents are homophobic. You’re living in a society where homosexuality is treated as a joke, a faraway fairytale that shouldn’t exist in the real life. You are far too scared to face the consequences of being disowned and shunned if you ever come out to your family. That’s alright. Just look at the series of events that led you here.
  4. Look deep into the history of the target of your envy: after looking at what led you there, look at the person you’re jealous of. That person who’s so out and proud? They used to be scared too when they’re sixteen and realized they liked girls. But their parents were quite accepting when they came out. Try to find the reasons that take them there and I assure you it’s never 100% smooth sailing for anyone, no matter how fine they appear to be now.
  5. Understand that you have your path and they have their paths. It’s fortunate that they have received what you craved most, but that’s their lives. That’s their path. It’s unfortunate that you didn’t have it, but this is your life, your path. And these paths are what make them and you unique individuals. Also, you might think they are “successful” in this particular area, but try to look at other areas where they are struggling. It’s a universal thing, this struggling. Once you’ve accepted that you and their lives are full of suffering, just in different hells, you’ll feel more compassion towards both yourself and them.
  6. Plan your actions: I believe there can be a healthy balance between acceptance and striving, so after accepting your past histories and everything that has led you to feel this jealousy, ask yourself, do you still want that? If you’re okay with not having it, simply acknowledge that it’s not a path you’d like to choose and move on with your life. However, if you still very much want it, make schemes, create an action plan to make it a reality. Say, you want to feel secured enough to come out to your family. Well, get a job. Invest your money. Save it. And bake a gay cake as a means of coming out!

One note though: after you’ve done this, the green creature is bound to creep up on you later on, most of the times, on the same freaking issue that you’ve dealt with. Don’t get frustrated; that’s part and package of being human. You just have to repeat this same process, acknowledge, understand and plan over and over and over. It sounds tiring, but it’s so much better than seething in envy on your own or worst, hating people out of spite.

 

Hi, Wolfie.

Although it is usually not expressed out-loud, we have all been there. You know, the whole being jealous of a close friend who’s got yet another promotion that permits her to travel and earn a shit load of money at the same time, or being bitter about somebody else’s achievement especially when you’ve failed in that very same endeavour a few times in a row.

More often than not, we suppress these feelings- chastising ourselves all the while for daring to even feel anything negative regarding our beloved friends, or a complete stranger who just happens to be so much better than us in some endeavor.

 

“Why are you like this?” we would ask ourselves, “You monster!”

 

The societal expectation for us to be a “nice” person has conditioned us to critically scold ourselves as soon as any negative feelings bubble up. Our brain knows it’s wrong to feel all these, but our heart still feels them anyway. What do we do then? We end up not allowing ourselves to be anything less than bubbly, cheery, and fun to be around.

When we are sulking, angry, disappointed, malcontent, or envious, it feels wrong. We feel… guilty.

I don’t know about you, but I know I have, and for the longest time, I feel so awfully fake. I feel like there’s so much rage, so much negative emotions inside, yet I have to put out a “cool” exterior.

“No one must know,” I would tell myself, “They would hate you, you monster!”

You can say that’s yet another manifestation of perfectionism- when you expect yourself to only feel perfectly happy emotions, all the freaking time.

A week ago, I came a cross a video. Basically, it states that there are two wolves inside each and every one of us- a blue, and a red wolf. The blue wolf is our bright side- happy, bubbly, motivated, and passionate whereas the red wolf contains all of the envy, jealousy, anger, and insecurities.

If you were anything like me, you would pamper your blue wolf, feeding it, petting it, and praising it all the time.

“Who’s a good boy?” He certainly is!

The red wolf, however, gets neglected. You wouldn’t even acknowledge it sitting by the corner, waiting patiently for your attention. You would pretend it didn’t even exist. When it came running, howling for your attention, you would scold it, disown it, rationalize yourself into believing that your neglect is justified.

And that’s wrong.

How so?

Because no matter how long you turn your back on the red wolf, it will still be there, probably sulking. It will very likely grow angrier by the minute, plotting the next ambush. When the raid comes, you feel the negative feelings all at once, usually more intense than the last anger fit.

The cycle goes on and on. The red wolf comes, you beat it. It becomes more revengeful, and comes again, and you beat it yet again.

And do you know what the red wolf wants most?

You might think it wants to ruin your life, or make you a cynical person. Nope. Not at all. It is only a group of emotions. Emotions don’t become anything if you don’t act upon it.

The red wolf only wants your acknowledgement. That’s it. Maybe, it wants you to finally look at it in the eyes, and say, “Hey, boy!”

That’s it.

Because as hard as it may be for us to believe, the red wolf is a part of us, too. We can never get rid of it. No matter how hard we try to deny ourselves, we will always be capable of feeling angry, envious, and sad. To expect ourselves to be otherwise is foolish.

Likewise, Thich Nhat Hanh taught that when we find ourselves feeling negative emotions, don’t fight them. Don’t ignore them.

Just acknowledge them.

Say, “I’m feeling angry right now.”

Maybe, you might want to find an explanation for your anger. Maybe, you don’t. Whatever your course of action is, just merely acknowledging your “bad” side is enough.

When you finally allow the red wolf to come creeping near the camp fire, maybe just slouching around. When you finally accept that it’s a part of your nature, you will finally find a sense of wholeness. Allow yourself to feel all the dimensions of your complex human nature.

Now, turn around, and say hi to that red wolf of yours!