Do You Have a Jealousy Problem?

There may be a fix

I should have been happy for her.

She was an awesome, funny person who absolutely deserved success. I knew all of this. I was still jealous.

But I couldn’t get rid of the nagging feeling: Is my success enough? Is her success somehow more valid?

Why couldn’t I just be happy for her without a footnote?


Have you ever felt this way before? Well  wrote this great article exploring the ways in which people can try to understand more about these jealous feelings. In the article she says:

We’ve all been there before (at least I hope I’m not alone on this one): unable to summon the feeling we want, instead left dredging through the nasty, mucky swamp of wanting what someone else has. Of all the negative emotions, jealousy has always felt like the most corrosive to me; not only does it make you feel bad about yourself, it makes you feel bitter towards someone you care about, suspicious of someone you love, spiteful towards someone for whom—on paper, at least—you should want to find happiness.

Which for me adds another layer of negativity: my jealousy not only makes me feel awful, it makes me feel guilty. Why can’t I feel consistently happy for other people’s successes? What about me is so emotionally crippled that my response to someone else’s good news is a fake smile and a real stomach ulcer? It’s bad enough feeling like a sour, pessimistic witch; it’s worse suspecting you’re somehow responsible for the transformation.

I wanted to learn more about why I was acting—or at least feeling—like such a bad person, so I reached out to the only people capable of helping me untangle the problem of unwanted jealousy: the psychiatric community.

Dr. Jeannette Raymond, a Los Angeles psychologist and the author of Now You Want Me, Now You Don’t!, noted that if I really wanted to understand my bitter behavior, “it might help to distinguish jealousy from envy.”

“Jealousy is being concerned that someone is going to take away what is already yours,” Raymond told me; it’s the overly-protective boyfriend or suspicious girlfriend. “Envy is wanting what someone else has or has achieved.”

Raymond said that deep-rooted emotional insecurity underpins both emotions, but excessive jealousy is usually the result of feeling like past relationships, especially those from your earliest youth, were unstable and inadequately loving.

Envy, on the other hand, “is one of the key markers for narcissism,” according to Raymond.

Her assessment wasn’t exactly making me feel better about myself. Which, come to think of it, was probably a pretty narcissistic response.


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