Is jealously the root of all evil? The how and why of the green eyed monster, and tips to work through it

“O, beware, my lord, of jealousy;
It is the green-ey’d monster, which doth mock
The meat it feeds on.”
William Shakespeare, Othello

Have you ever met a person that just oozed unhappiness?

Maybe you have never heard said person say a kind thing, maybe they scrunch their face up into a pensive mess when you talk about something positive in your life. Maybe you always feel uncomfortable around them because you can feel the happy energy in the room being sucked out when they are present.

Chances are, this unhappy person has feelings of inadequacy that ultimately are related to the green-eyed monster, jealousy. Jealousy occurs when a person believes themselves to be inferior to others whether on a conscious or subconscious level.

A jealous person becomes threatened when someone else is doing well, or has a positive life occurrence. Jealousy can also occur when a person feels threatened by another’s appearance—the person believes the other person to be more handsome or beautiful than them, thus the “claws” come out. I’m sure that we have all experienced it firsthand from someone else, or maybe you recognize jealous tendencies within yourself from time to time.

“Beware of those who criticize you when you deserve some praise for an achievement, for it is they who secretly desire to be worshiped.”
Suzy Kassem, Rise Up and Salute the Sun: The Writings of Suzy Kassem

When a person is unable to feel happy for someone else that is doing well in life, I believe this to be a blatant inferiority issue. I have worked (in and out of the therapy session!) with enough people who have very low self-esteem to realize that when a person is insecure, they are at such a fragile place that anyone else’s successes may just put them over the edge, and cause them to lash out disproportionately to what the situation may call for. Inadvertently causing distress and feelings that they are incompetent or ‘a loser’.

Typically, when someone is jealous, this emotion gets the better of them and they lash out, projecting those feelings of uncertainty and self-dislike on those around them.

If you identify that you are in a situation where you are experiencing unhappiness and jealousy towards others—the time has come to perform some heavy introspection.

I’m a major list person. I believe that writing something down, reading it, and visually seeing the issues in front of you is healing and can logically help you organize your thoughts. Make a list of the inadequacies you believe that you have as well as the things that you most often feel jealous of.

The list can be as general or specific that you want it to be. Just by making the list, you are defining the insecurities within yourself. Through definition comes clarity. In order to understand why we behave the way that we do, we have to understand the root cause.

Awhile back, I met a woman who was nice enough. She was one of those people who appeared friendly on the onset of meeting her yet the more you got to know her, you realized that there was a definite “putting on the best behavior act” occurring. There was a shiftiness about her, and I realized that in order to protect myself, I would have to remain guarded—keep her at arm’s length as the saying goes. Anyone that knows me will tell you that I’m upbeat and positive. I’ve always had a positive disposition, it’s both learned and who I am.

With this woman, however, I could literally tell that just by being myself, I was not liked by her. That’s fine, I can accept when someone is not a fan. And this lady was not someone who I necessarily wanted to embrace as a friend. I did my best to steer clear unless interactions had to happen. Her disdain was apparent each time we interacted until finally I received her unsolicited feedback that solidified my suspicion that she felt threatened. “You just have it all together don’t you. Your perfect life” she managed to choke out in anger. I looked at her puzzled. “Where did that come from?” I wondered. At that moment, her phone rang and I quietly left her office. The green-eyed monster that is jealousy and contempt was so strong it left me a bit rattled on the inside.

The strange thing about jealousy is that it will rear its ugly head at different times and with different people. You could be having a benign, neutral conversation with someone  and out comes a comment like the one above.

When a person is so unhappy with themselves, as I’ve mentioned in previous blogs, this unhappy energy literally radiates from them. When you’re on the receiving end of an outburst, it can actually cause a visceral reaction—usually the pit of my stomach gets a bit knotted after having an interaction like that. If you have a case of jealousy, then I urge you to work on it. Not just for others that are around you, but for your own mental and physical health.

Research has shown time after time, that poor mental health will inevitably end up manifesting itself in physical ways, especially when left unattended. High blood pressure, intestinal issues, poor sleep, and even heart arrhythmia to name a few. The sooner that you work through some of these negative emotions you’re experiencing, the better for you both physically and mentally.

Make your list of the things that you most often feel threatened by and then begin to work through them, focusing on developing a strong sense of self-worth and self-esteem.

Bringing the point to life: maybe you want to lose 25 pounds and your fit coworker causes you to grit your teeth every time she is near. Why not work on yourself instead of radiating all of that anger and resentment?

Or maybe your friend is an excellent public speaker and everyone seems fascinated by her when she speaks. Instead of harping on the fact that she gets all of the positive attention, read up on developing public speaking skills and get to work!

“Maybe that was the root of my dislike for her: she had what I wanted, which earned her my jealousy, and since I was ashamed of myself for wanting it, my scorn, as well.”
Nenia Campbell, Bleeds My Desire

Jealousy is a toxic, life-sucking emotion. Negative outcomes occur when you exhibit jealousy. Jealousy is fairly transparent and can be recognized by others, only furthering feelings of insecurity in the one that already feels afflicted. If you are experiencing feelings of inadequacy, examine where those inadequacies are coming from and make positive changes in life.

We are only able to be in control of ourselves. So much of life can be missed out on if we get too caught up in our negative emotions and insecurities. Work towards growing, developing a healthy self-esteem, and being the best version of yourself that you can be.

 

I leave you with this quote that sums everything up nicely:

“If you can channel the best part of you that is bigger than yourself, where it’s not about your ego and not about getting ahead, then you can have fun and you aren’t jealous of others. You see other people’s talent as another branch of your own. You can keep it rooted in joy. Life is long and there are plenty of opportunities to make mistakes. The point of it all is to learn.”
Ethan Hawke

 

Exploit your insecurities and use them to learn more about yourself. Be empowered to make decisions that benefit you and leave you treating others with kindness…

 

Wishing you a healthy life full of introspection and advancement today and every day,

Rachel Ann

 

For more information on jealousy, please take a look at two great articles:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/basics/jealousy

https://psychcentral.com/lib/envy-jealousy-and-shame/

Taking off the mask: what is your persona?

My favorite part of my day is often coming home and washing my face. I love the feeling of washing the day away and fully embracing a level of comfort that I’m unable to throughout the day.

I feel safe, secure, and completely supported in my home so it’s no wonder that my literal “mask” can come off. I no longer have to embrace the persona that my current job entails, instead I can just fully relax. I am able to quietly reenergize through introverting and having a quiet night at home with my husband.

Swiss psychiatrist, Carl Jung, is one of my favorite psychological theorists. I do a lot of work with my clients on how the four archetypes (The Self, The Shadow, The Anima or Animus, and The Persona) manifest themselves in their lives. The persona is one of Jung’s four archetypes that he uses to explain personalities and behaviors that we show the world. Persona is quite literally the Latin word for mask. Jung proposed that our persona is the mechanism to which we protect our ego; if we are not an “open book” and others do not know how we are truly feeling, then the ego does not have as much risk of being injured.

Our persona is a collection of our behavioral characteristics, demeanor, and even ways of speaking that we exhibit to various social settings. A truly evolved, mentally healthy individual is able to recognize which parts of their persona are being utilized and ultimately should strive to be the most authentic version of themselves that they can be—drawing all aspects of who they are and bringing them to every social and personal situation. However, more times than not, the collaboration of persona and authentic self does not occur.

Persona, the mask or image we present to the world. Designed to make a particular impression on others, while concealing our true nature.

                                                                                                  -Carl Jung

Consider this: you go to see your favorite musician. They are charismatic, energetic, and engaging on stage. Afterwards, you wait to meet them and observe that there is an awkwardness, almost a shyness about them. The juxtaposition of what you have just observed them doing on stage versus who they are in real life is quite apparent.

That, my friends, is quite simply the concept of persona. We all to a certain degree, have a “face” that we put on to brave the world.  Humans learn that they must behave differently in different settings in order to elicit a certain desired effect. I recently watched a documentary on the very talented musician Amy Winehouse where she spoke to the persona in her own terms. She talked about her shyness, how she was actually a person that enjoyed keeping to herself but when her fame escalated, it created a sort of discomfort in her.

When our public personas become so different from who we really are underneath the “mask”, psychological discomfort ensues. Having to “play” such different life roles on a daily basis then becomes a confusing situation where a person may start to try to escape through maladaptive means. In an effort to alleviate [and escape] the anxiety that a person begins to experience from not incorporating all aspects of their personality, they may start to engage in sexually deviant behaviors, substance use/abuse, and or even calling into work because the stress is too much (just to name a few that I’ve witnessed in the clinical setting).

Think of public personalities that become involved in scandals. I think of former U.S. House of Representatives politician, Anthony Weiner, who was involved in several sexting scandals. He displayed the public persona of a vocal liberal Democrat, not afraid to voice his opinions on various topics. However, in his personal life, he was quite devious and engaged in several very scandalous sexting incidents. One could argue that his shadow archetype (shadow archetype next on the blog) was at play here, but I also think that his persona disfigurement was the culprit. Even his wife had to put on a public persona of support for her husband after the incidents came to light. I can only imagine what was happening behind closed doors in her home. Do you see the example of when your public persona and personal persona collide? For many, those that are closest to us are also affected.

The healthiest individual has a clear understanding of who they must be in certain situations, yet that person is able to retain characteristics of themselves in all situations. I know for example, that I do better with one on one situations. I may be at a get together, but you will not see me entertaining the crowd. I feel most comfortable making my way around the room, interacting with one person at a time, having a quality interaction. I know that this plays largely into what I do on a daily basis: interacting with an individual therapy client. I don’t feel as if I’m having to compromise who I am in an effort to work, and I come home feeling happy with my interactions. Incorporating public and personal personas.

Think about who you are at home, and who you are in the public eye. Are they one in the same? Are there similarities? Do you come home feeling like yourself or do you feel like you’re wearing a mask that does not fit? Only you know and only you can decide.

Take off the mask and see what happens.

And if you can’t fully do that, begin to incorporate who you really are into your daily life. See what happens.

Wholeness is not achieved by cutting off a portion of one’s being, but by integration of the contraries.

Carl Jung

Wishing you self-discovery and an authentic life today and every day,

Rachel Ann

For more information on the persona archetype:

http://psikoloji.fisek.com.tr/jung/persona.htm

http://eric.pettifor.org/individuationarchetypes