Do you know the difference between jealousy and envy? If not, keep reading to learn how to recognize the signs of these two emotions and what to do about them so they don’t ruin the relationship you have with your significant other, friends, and/or family.
First Things First: The Difference
The words “jealous” and “envious” are often used interchangeably, but they shouldn’t be — they mean quite different things. According to dictionary.com, jealousy is defined as “feeling resentment towards someone because of that person’s rivalry, success or advantages…[and also] characterized by suspicious fears.” Envy, on the other hand, is defined as “a feeling of discontent or covetousness with regard to another’s advantages, success, possessions, etc.”
At first glance, the definitions do not seem all that different; however, when you look at each feeling in context, you will soon realize that these emotions carry very different weights. In simple terms, envy can always be thought of as a negative emotion. If you envy a person based on their success, material possessions, their character, etc., there’s no room for positive emotion to come through.
If, however, you are jealous of someone or something, that jealousy can very often be negative, but it can also be positive as well. For example, you can be jealous of a friend’s work promotion, but those jealous feelings are often accompanied by happiness and excitement for your friend. In this way, it’s apparent that jealousy and envy are two entirely different emotions.
How to Deal
If you are finding it hard to set aside your feelings of jealousy or envy toward another person, you need to step back and look at the situation. These emotions are not healthy, and when left unchecked can seriously spiral into unhealthy consequences.
In order to overcome these feelings, your first step should be to realize you don’t know everything about that person. Maybe you’re jealous of your co-worker’s apparently perfect marriage, or you wish you could drop three dress sizes like your best friend. Whatever the case may be, this seemingly perfect person you are jealous or envious of is not as perfect as you think. She has flaws, regrets, and past failures just like you — and even if she seems put together and perfect right now, that doesn’t mean she has everything going for her 100% of the time.
When you are able to look at the object of your envy in this way, you can start to move past your emotions and realize she isn’t perfect — no one is!
However, in order to truly set aside your feelings, you need to discover where the envy or jealousy is coming from. What makes you jealous or envious of this person? Do whatever you need to in order to discover the reason for your intense emotions: meditate, journal, vent to a friend or relative, or sit quietly and contemplate why you feel the way you do.
Getting to the root cause of these jealous feelings will enable you to remedy the problem by fixing what it is that caused these emotions in the first place!
Finally, try to think about what these typically negative emotions are doing to you and the other person that may or may not be aware of your feelings. Would you really want someone to carry such intense emotions towards you? If you are jealous or envious of another person’s success, use those feelings as a tool for positive change rather than negative. Let those feelings inspire you to be the best person you can be, and don’t worry about what everyone else has accomplished.