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The Real Reason You Feel Jealous (and How to Use it To Your Advantage)

Updated on October 25, 2017
Farawaytree profile image

Michelle writes about relationships, self-improvement, life lessons & attitude to both inspire & relate to her readers

There are positive things you can do with those feelings of envy
There are positive things you can do with those feelings of envy | Source

The Green-Eyed Monster Explained

We all know that insidious feeling. We might get it when we're out with our significant other and an attractive person walks by. You may think your lover is looking at this attractive person and a sharp twinge of insecurity courses through you about your own looks.

That feeling of insecurity can rapidly evolve into jealousy.

Jealousy is the manifestation of our inner doubt and past experiences all rolled into one delicious package.

Jealousy is defined as, "an emotion that refers to feelings of insecurity, fear, concern, or anxiety, over an anticipated loss or status of something of great personal value, particularly in reference to a human connection."

Generally, there are many reasons why humans experience feelings of jealousy, but the most prevalent is insecurity. People almost always choose to pine for something they don't already have and constantly compare themselves to others making envy one of the most prevalent emotions in modern society..

The green-eyed monster
The green-eyed monster | Source

There could be a number of reasons why someone feels insecure about themselves. They could have been betrayed by people in the past, abandoned, or abused. They may not be able to get themselves over that emotional obstacle.

Jealous people may have a chip on their shoulder and think that they always get the short end of the stick. It's just that learned experience plus whatever limitations people put on themselves that ends up manifesting into jealousy.

Men, Women & Jealousy

On the surface, it does appear that women engage in expressions of jealousy much more than men, but most of the time that's because they tend to discuss it more.

Women, in general, tend to feel the need to express how they feel more than men do, so it is possible that men do indeed experience large amounts of jealousy regarding comparisons to other men, job status, looks, etc.

Studies have found that women experience emotional jealousy on a far larger scale than men and that men are more likely to experience sexual jealousy. For example, women tend to feel jealous if their partner bonds with someone else on an emotional level.

Men, on the other hand, lean more towards sexual jealousy which is similar to a territorial claim for the purpose of reproduction. On the evolutionary side of things, males will generally compete with one another to display the best attributes for reproducing, and may exhibit jealous behavior if they feel their mate is in danger of reproducing with someone else.


Jealousy is a daily part of most people's lives, especially with social media on the rise, and everyone posting their status 24/7 on sites like Facebook.

One can't help but compare at times. Everyone does it.

Most people would be lying if they said they didn't react out of Jealousy on social media sites, at least occasionally.

The jealousy could creep in when, let's say, that friend you might have on your Facebook posts some adorable picture of themselves with their boyfriend/girlfriend.

Possibly feeling insecure about your own lack of romantic relationship, you react by posting some quote about how single life is awesome and people who are in relationships are all miserable. We've all been tempted to compete out of jealousy.

So, what is at the root of all this comparing?

The Root of It All

People who find themselves suffering from that sinking feeling of jealousy need to ask themselves a few questions:

1. Why am I trying to sabotage my own happiness with negative thoughts?

2. Why am I distracting myself from what I need to do by focusing on how others live their life?

3. What do I need to change in my own life that would make me feel more satisfied?

The most vulnerable time to become infiltrated with feelings of jealousy is when you are bored, not focused, or intent on self-sabotage. When you are focused on your own set of goals, whether they be small or big, you tend to be so intent on creating in your own world that you don't get easily distracted by what others are doing.

In fact, when you start accomplishing your own goals in life, you actually become more happy for other people who do the same, rather than feeling jealous. That's because you know how it feels to set a goal and complete it. It feels great.

If you spend all of your time procrastinating, and can't, or won't motivate yourself, then feeling envious of others is an easy trap to fall into. If you're not satisfied with your own progress in life, you're most likely already feeling down because you know you're capable of so much more.

So if you see others grabbing life by the horns, it's natural that you start to have feelings of resentment towards them, which are really just feelings of frustration with yourself for being lazy.

"A well-adjusted person understands that comparing yourself to another person who has had completely different life experiences and has a completely different personality is just not a wise thing to do."

Kick jealousy to the curb
Kick jealousy to the curb | Source

Get Some Perspective

Generally, people who don't fall into the jealousy trap as often are more self-confident and able to see the big picture in any given situation. For example, secure people understand that everyone has good days and bad days and that you're not going to be happy all of the time.

Secure people have realistic expectations for what goes on in the world around them and they understand that everyone has different talents or opportunities.

A well-adjusted person understands that comparing yourself to another person who has had completely different life experiences and has a completely different personality is just not a wise thing to do.

Terribly insecure people are always looking at others and wondering why they don't have what they have, or why they don't have the kind of "good luck" others have. What they could be doing instead is finding something they like to do and creating their own road to inspiration. It could be something that seems small at first, but then you can expand on it and take it to a new level.

Expanding on a raw skill such as drawing, athletics, writing, crafts, computers, dance, or teaching can be turned into a real passion if you learn to level up your motivation and focus your energy on it.

"It's about having a purpose beyond making money and releasing your mind from the constant comparisons, competition, and greed."

The Next Level

Reaching a new level in your motivation for life does not always mean more money.

Many people jump to the conclusion that success always has to involve more money.

That's why there are so many unsatisfied, envious people out there who only have negative things to say.

If you only make an effort for financial gain, then don't be surprised if you still have an empty, resentful feeling down the road. That's why you shouldn't hinge all of your success based on money.

Of course, there's no question that money is vital to surviving in this society, but this method is about changing your focus and mindset towards a creative goal, not a material one.

It's about having a purpose beyond making money and releasing your mind from the constant comparisons, competition, and greed.

To involve your mind into something that's completely your own that has nothing to do with anyone else's journey. In this society, we place so much value on looks, relationships status, and financial achievement that it's easy to forget we all have our own unique gifts and the reward is not always money, it's peace of mind and self-esteem.

You Choose.
You Choose. | Source

Having self-esteem and knowing what you are capable of not only guards you against envy and self-pity, but it enables you to go forward.

This ensures you can successfully move on instead of being stuck in the same emotional ut over and over again.

Wallowing in bitterness and jealousy doesn't do anyone any good.

No one is going to pull you up by your socks except for you, and no one else is going to motivate passion in your life except for you.

Jealousy is a natural human emotion that is unavoidable. Jealousy can be used in a positive way to push people to do better, or it can push them into depression. It all depends on how quickly you recognize it and how you choose to use it to your own advantage.

So, the next time you feel yourself saying negative things about someone, try and consider if those feelings are stemming from jealousy, and then think about what's going on in your life that may have left you vulnerable to that negative energy.

Immediately focus on something you can change in your life, or in your mindset that can override the jealousy and turn it into a motivational path. Accept the feelings of jealousy and use them to inspire a more meaningful road for yourself. You can do it at any time. Your life is waiting for you.


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    • mtkomori profile image

      mtkomori 8 months ago from Yokohama, Japan

      Your hub contains some good advice. I`ve been jealous of a mom I met at my son`s school, who was my son`s classmate`s mom. The feeling of jealously sprang up without any notice.You correctly point out that "jealousy is a natural human emotion". The jealousy I felt sort of took control over my emotions until I was texting this mom with insults. Although I knew this was emotionally draining and a waste of time, I couldn`t help it. Now I`m slowly starting to realize that I should move on.

      It`s hard not to compare ourselves to others. But there`s very little benefit derived from comparing. Thank you for your well-thought out points and great advice!

    • profile image

      Martine Andersen 11 months ago

      Really enjoyed reading this!

    • cat on a soapbox profile image

      Catherine Tally 23 months ago from Los Angeles

      I loved reading this! Yes, we all have those icky feelings of resentment that spur on waves of negativity. I recognize the "Bad Cathy" as soon she makes her appearance, and it all starts with those "unwise" comparisons! You are so right about refocusing on our own talents, getting busy, and letting our passions move us forward. Thank you for the great advice. They are timely reminders:)

    • dashingscorpio profile image

      dashingscorpio 2 years ago

      "Jealousy is the manifestation of (our inner doubt and past experiences) all rolled into one delicious package." - Very well said!

      The reality is everyone brings a certain amount of baggage from past experiences into new relationships. Sometimes they simply cannot believe someone would only want to be with them!

      Last but least it's oftentimes (fear) of heartache when one feels extremely "emotionally invested" in someone but doesn't feel it's truly being reciprocated or at least not in the way (they want) it to be.

      I once heard a radio host state he always asks his first dates the following: "How do you know when (you) are loved?"

      Based upon their answer he knew whether or not he was the right guy for them. Each of us has our own idea of what love should look like.

      I once dated a woman who determined a guy's affection for her based upon his willingness to do things she knew he did not enjoy!

      If the guy won't jump through hoops or supplant his own interests then he was not to be trusted. I suppose it was radical to believe if you love someone you'd want them to be happy too! :)

      I learned to seek out those who naturally enjoy and want the same things!

      Having said that there are some people who view trust as being a sign you don't love them! If you always take them at their word never seem to have any doubts about their "platonic friendships" with the opposite gender or with their exes it makes them think you don't care!

      Lots of folks expect a certain amount of jealousy and possessiveness.

    • Jewels profile image

      Jewels 2 years ago from Australia

      I can relate to this on both sides of the spectrum. Firstly as a strong person who has not been able to withstand the jeers of jealous rivals, learning to do so had become a necessary endeavour. Secondly as a person who envies someone else - seeing however, that their ability to hold themselves was what I needed to do. Staying focused on me as a person and what my passion is has become the driving force for staying true to myself and not succumbing to the reactions of other people. It's not easy but so worth the effort :)

    • profile image

      Kathleen Kerswig 2 years ago

      You are absolutely right! I believe we are all One so we really do all go through it! ;)

    • Jay C OBrien profile image

      Jay C OBrien 2 years ago from Houston, TX USA

      "1. Why am I trying to sabotage my own happiness with negative thoughts?"

      Very good observation. Stress is formed in the mind by negative emotions. These negative emotions may be manifested in a bad act. Stress occurs due to condemnation of others. Therefore avoid condemning others. If you have condemned to the point of creating negative emotions, then learn to forgive. Forgiveness is the way we heal ourselves.

    • Farawaytree profile image

      Michelle Zunter 2 years ago from California

      Thank you Kathleen, we all go through it right? ;)

    • profile image

      Kathleen Kerswig 2 years ago

      Thank you for sharing this hub on jealousy. I understand that when I feel that emotion stirring within, it is because I am unsure of myself and I would rather focus on another person's behavior. When I stay focused on my side of the street, I do much better and I rarely feel jealousy of any kind. Thanks again. Blessings!