Jealousy

DEALING WITH JEALOUSY IN FRIENDSHIP

Jealousy is a difficult emotion to deal with. It becomes that much more difficult however; when we’re jealous of a close friend, who we also love. Two opposite emotions – affection and jealousy clash…and perhaps leave us agonized. The closer we are to the friend, the worse it could get. Every time we meet the friend, we’re reminded of how he/ she is better than we are…and how we are not good enough. Leaving the situation unaddressed could prove detrimental to the friendship, to our emotional well being or to both.

REACTIONS EVOKED BY JEALOUSY:

Jealousy is a powerful emotion and could elicit the following reactions if experienced repeatedly :

Anger towards the Friend : Externalization

One way in which we could react to jealousy is by getting extremely annoyed at our friend for looking so good/ stealing the thunder away from us/ repeatedly getting appreciated by our boss. It is not uncommon then for the relationship to suffer, because we begin to hope that he/she messes it up today….at least on ONE day!!. We also channelize our actions setting our friends’ accolades as a target. Today I must outdo him/her!let me submit this project before she doesI must look better than him/her today, or else I’m just not good enough!! are some thoughts that may run through us. As a third alternative, it is possible that we consciously avoid helping the friend. I’m so sorry I lost those notesI don’t know anything about this either, who would waste their time over it anyway?I would have surely helped, but I’m so tied down I just can’t! are some paths we might choose to take in order to do better than that seemingly superhuman friend. Sooner or later, our friend might understand our underlying motive, weakening the bond that we truly cherish.

Anger towards Ourselves: Internalization

In other words – guiltHe/she is so good to me, how can I be jealous of him/her?why are such thoughts flocking my mind?” “Why am I wishing my own friend doesn’t do well? are some painful thoughts that might occur to us. In this case our own emotional well being is likely to suffer the most. Now there is a flux of three conflicting emotions – love, jealousy and guilt. We’d experience all three whenever we think about/meet that friend. While things could be “ok” on the surface, deep down we suffer immensely and chronically.

DEALING WITH JEALOUSY : WHAT CAN BE DONE?

Following are some ways in which we can deal with jealousy : 

Talk to your Friend About It

This could be very effective if the bond between you two is strong. Merely telling your friend that you feel jealous of him/her is extremely therapeutic, as it brings about the release of all the pent up negative emotion. It could also enhance your bond as your friend is likely to eventually appreciate your honesty and understand how you feel, because he/she understands you well! Talking about it also reduces the “power” of jealousy, in that you don’t feel as negative about the friend after having a heart to heart discussion about it, neither do you feel guilty, as your friend now knows all about it.

Talking about it according to me is one of the best ways of dealing with it.

Understand the Feeling

Try to understand the feeling you have within. Do not judge yourselves. We are all allowed to feel jealous. Ask, “what am I undergoing?” rather than “WHY am I undergoing this?” Jealousy is probably trying to convey to you that you wish to improve. This is not negative at all. Focus on the positive instead. We all need to improve and grow. It could also mean that your friend is your role model, that you admire something about him/her. This in fact is a very positive feeling. Do not fight against jealousy, understand it. It will seem less threatening.

Prioritize

Having a few sporadic negative thoughts about your friend will not harm your relationship. However, if you often hope he/she does not do well or are motivated by jealousy in your actions, you need to pause consciously and introspect. Pulling your friend down means you have prevented him/her from running the race. Yet, have you run your race? What would genuinely work well for you, pulling others down while stagnating in the same space, or letting others run their race while you move and improve?

Another aspect to actively think about is, do you really wish to outdo your friend at the cost of losing him/her? Would that make you truly happy? Or would there be a tinge of unhappiness when you think of your accomplishment? Introspect. Think on these lines. Give yourself time to understand the answers…and choose the path that your heart truly seeks.

This video describes how to get in touch with your emotions.

About the author

Malini Krishnan

Psychologist, Inner Space, 2010-Present

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