Productively Managing Jealousy

We’ve all been there. We’re working on a craft, learning, practicing, and trying to reap some sort of benefit from all that hard work…only to watch others get noticed. Get the role. Get the contract. Get the acknowledgement. And sometimes, it keeps happening. It’s rough to watch and keep your own spirits up.

Some people hit this point and start blaming others for why they themselves aren’t getting where they want to be. It’s someone else’s fault you aren’t getting roles. The other person engaged in some insidious behavior to get whatever it was they got that you wanted, and you didn’t because you would never stoop to that level. The person doesn’t want it as badly as you did. The people making the decisions (who may or may not have ever heard of you) hate you because they know you’re so much better than them. Or even better, they sometimes transfer their anger. The other person needs to stop succeeding because it’s making you look or feel bad.

What’s really going on is that you are feeling jealous. And jealousy can be a fairly evil emotion. It’s certainly one of the more irrational ones. As in, it whispers irrational lies in your head, until you do something completely stupid and irrational, destroying things that were important to you. But it’s okay, jealousy tells you, because it’s always someone else’s fault.

Let’s make something clear right now: Your jealousy, and any actions resulting from it, are never somebody else’s fault. Your actions are always your own doing, your own choices. Get that into your head right now, because it’s going to make the rest of this easier.

Jealousy happens. No matter how nice of a person you are, there will come a day when jealousy will sidle up to you and tell you someone else deserves to have a cake dropped on their head because you didn’t get what you wanted, what you had been working toward. It’s startling natural, can look like a friendly voice, and can have some pretty negative consequences. But it doesn’t have to. It’s how you choose to respond to your jealousy that makes it a bad thing. If you act out maliciously against the reason you’re feeling jealous (because remember, the jealousy has told you it’s their fault you’re feeling this way), you’re doing it wrong and headed for trouble. If you stop for a moment and ask yourself why you’re feeling jealous, you just might learn something important about yourself.

Interrogating your jealousy can have a number of positive consequences. It can help you identify skills you’d like to learn or practice more. It can help you verbalize a challenge or obstacle you’re struggling with, giving you a better chance to confront and conquer that challenge/obstacle. It can help you verbalize a goal you maybe hadn’t been able to wrap your mind around before. It might even help you identify something you’ve been holding on to and help you release it. If you’re smart about it, you can actually use your jealousy to help you grow and improve in your craft and to help you find and focus on your goals.

So, the next time you find yourself upset at another person who’s just sitting there minding their own business, ask yourself what’s really bothering you. The answer might just surprise you, make you better at your craft, and save you within your industry or community of practice.

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