On Jealousy.


Hannah,

I wanted to write to ask your advice on jealousy. It’s such a silly part of our human nature, but how can we combat it.  I struggle with it so much and it is really taking away from me allowing myself to be fully happy for others in their achievements and joys. Don’t get me wrong, I do get excited for them and share in their happiness. But when I’m alone and in my own head, I let this little green monster creep in and tell me all these lies.

For example, one of my best single friends is now starting to see this guy. I am beyond excited for her and that she found such a great guy, but there is a little part of me that selfishly says ” why not me? When’s it going to be MY turn to share the fun first date story with all my friends who are eagerly waiting.”

I just want to find sincere and genuine happiness while not letting jealousy bog me down.

Thanks so much!

-T


T,

I’ve been learning a lot about my brain lately. I got tired of blanket statements about depression and anxiety and I decided to get some answers. A stop on my journey was sitting across from a dear friend of mine who is a cerebral neurologist.

He met me at Taproom a few weeks ago and he talked to me for two hours about the brain: how it works, how to manage it, how we seriously don’t give this noggin of ours enough credit. I will probably write six or seven blog posts about my cerebral neurologist friend because he literally blows my mind every time we sit down to talk (blatant pun intended).

So we were sitting there, T, and it was nearly impossible to stay focused on the conversation because the most unfairly beautiful playlist kept wafting through the speakers and I was instantly swept up in nostalgia and memories of senior prom and breakups in college. I was basically sitting there with Ryan Adams, Ben Rector, Ray LaMontagne, and a cerebral neurologist.

He paused talking somewhere in the middle of “She is Love” by Parachute and said to me, “We only have two kinds of emotions: love and fear. Everything stems off of those two.”

Process this with me for a second, T. We only have two emotions: love and fear. Every other emotion sits in one of those two family trees.  You’re experiencing jealousy. Jealousy is a bucktooth cousin of the Fear Family. He’s sitting there in that Fear family photo wearing a wool turtleneck and righteous comb over.

I could probably build upon this visual for the next 750 words but there are more important things to say. For instance, your jealousy is rooted in the fear that good stuff will happen for other people and not you. Your jealousy is rooted in this belief that every other human is going to find their soulmate and you won’t even become a cat lady because all the cats will find love before you do too. Your jealousy is rooted in the fear that God has good for other people but He has forgotten about you.

 

I feel you, child. I can’t say I know everything there is to know about jealousy but I can say this: jealousy knows no boundaries. I know a lot of people who also have no boundaries and the truth is that eventually you have to cut those people off or else they are destined to trample all over you.

Jealousy is territorial and it will take as much of you as it can get. We make the mistake of thinking that a little jealousy is understandable and that we can just shove it down and that means we won’t feel it anymore. Everything we shove down does, indeed, come back up again. It comes up again a million times more forceful, more powerful, and more overbearing.

That’s why beauty experts say it is not good to shave your eyebrows. Once you shave them, they grow back quicker than before. Shaving does not get to the root of the problem just like stuffing feelings down doesn’t mean you’ve dealt with them. You have to pluck, girl. You have to see the root before you think about shoving the feels off. That’s the only way fear stops winning-  when we all stop acting as if it isn’t real.

 

I want to tell you a story from a few years ago. I had an acquaintance going after the same dream as me. Her dream of publishing a book just happened sooner than me. When I first realized I was jealous it was just this little tinge in my heart, just this little voice that whispered, “Mine. I want that to be mine.”

It started off as an innocent feeling. You and I have those feelings daily and on the regular. My mistake was in not dealing with that feeling. I didn’t pray about it. I didn’t write it down. I didn’t tell anyone about the feeling and I should have. That’s one of the best ways I know how to combat jealousy and other nasty feelings: tell someone they exist. Be vulnerable. Admit it. Do not, I repeat, do not let those feelings fester in dark corners of your brain. Like mold, they will spread.

I did nothing what I just recommended to you. Instead, I let those feelings of jealousy grow stronger and stronger. They turned into bitterness. They turned into resentment. Before long, I felt like I was unable to talk to that person. Worse than that, I was unable to cheer that person on. I blocked her notifications. I took her number out of my phone.

I remember there was this one day where I went into the bookstore and there was this jealous pull inside of me to go and find the book. It’s that same sort of pull you experience when you know you don’t want to check a person’s social media to see how they are doing but you find yourself there on their page anyway and you proceed to wallow in their good stuff.

I was standing at the front of the bookstore and I felt this prompting in my heart that was like, “Yea, you are going to go find her book. And you know what else? When you find her book you are going to pray for it. You are going to pray it does well.”

It was the strangest feeling inside of me. Nothing inside of me wanted to go find the book and pray for it but that’s what I found myself doing. Any time that jealous feeling would creep into my heart, I would turn it into a simple prayer. Soon enough, my anger and my bitterness had subsided. I can’t say I became her best friend or that I ever really cultivated a friendship with her, but I can tell you that I no longer feel the pangs of jealousy when the thought of her comes up.

I still pray when I get jealous. I pray a lot when I get jealous. The jealousy can be so real and palpable sometimes but I turn my feelings into simple prayers. They don’t have to be long. They don’t need to be eloquent. Sometimes they are as simple as, “God, here’s what I am feeling. And I don’t want to feel this way. So help me not to feel this way.” Simple. So simple that it is almost dumb. But it works.

 

I think you need to do something, T. I think you need to go to the store, buy a cute card, and give it to your friend. Write her a message inside about how you are happy for her. Force yourself to do these things. Jealousy and all the blood-hungry feelings don’t stand a chance when we refuse to acknowledge and, instead, propel ourselves forward with action steps.

Celebrate your friend even if you don’t feel like it. Half the time (if not 3/4 of the time) your feelings are wrong. Don’t depend on them. If you want to keep your friend then choose to celebrate her. The key word in that last sentence is “choose.” You get to choose. You get to choose whether you are going to love your friend well or if you are going to walk away from her, talk behind her back, or secretly wish bad on her while she walks through a really exciting time in life. Would you want her to stand by you and celebrate you? If so, become active in loving her well. The more you love her, the more you will send a message to the jealousy telling it that it can no longer occupy the space you’ve given to it.

In the battle between love and fear, love always has the power to win. But must train your love. You must invest in love more than you give fear a pedestal. Love always has the power to win but you need to learn to train it for battle first.

tying you closer than most,

hb.

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17 thoughts on “On Jealousy.

  1. I love how this post is like a response to a question someone sent you, that’s really creative. Your advice is on-point, girl, smash the negativity with positivity.

  2. Thank you. It was not my plan to read your post at first but I am glad I did. I am in a similar situation fighting for my freedom from the feelings of fear, anger and jealousy. I needed this. Thank you. Great post

  3. “Everything we shove down does, indeed, come back up again. It comes up again a million times more forceful, more powerful, and more overbearing.” – Such a beautiful and timely piece. Thank you!

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