When Can Jealousy Serve A Positive Purpose?


Jealousy is an emotion, thought and behavior that can be extremely detrimenting and damaging to a person’s soul, beliefs, lifestyle and livelihood. Jealousy may begin small and evolve into a full-blown disease like problem.

I have read and researched different variations of jealousy in different aspects and scenarios and believe and know that all of us have been jealous in one form or another at least a few times in our lifetime. To say that we have never been jealous or experienced jealousy is to say that we are not flawed and do not have the makeup of the human condition which is the human existence of imperfection. We have all experienced jealousy or have been jealous at least a few times in our lives. Some of us may have a hard time acknowledging or confessing to this especially when the jealousy stems from comparing ourselves to others or highlighting our insecurities, which in turn highlight another individual’s best attributes. It’s inevitable, there will be times when we feel that we are inferior and will become insecure and turn in on ourselves. In comparing ourselves to an individual we may think “they are better than I am”, “they have a better job, better children, nicer clothes, a better education, a better relationship”. What we are doing when you begin this kind of thinking is diminishing the good that we do have for ourselves. Comparing ourselves to others can be very dangerous for our self-esteem. For one, we never truly know what the other person is really going through. We only know what we see. We assume that because they have plaques or degrees on their wall that they are better educated than us or because they have a title or position that they are more capable than we are. What we don’t stop and consider is what they had to sacrifice to get to where they are, to have what they have, to be who they are.

I went through a time in my life where jealousy began to reign my everyday existence. I found myself jealous of an individual because of what she had or because of the positive comments that I heard others make in regards to her. “She has a great position, she has an education from a prestigious institution, her children are always well-dressed and have great personalities, she travels”, the list can go on and on. Once the root of envy took hold and planted itself within me there was nothing to stop it. I’d wake up thinking how inferior I was because I did not make the same amount as this individual or how my education was not from a prestigious university as her education was. Everyday was a battle within my own mind and everyday I became more hateful and angered and toiled. I knew I just could not continue living my life in this manner. All of this and I hadn’t even been around the individual in years. It continued because of seeds being planted in my mind from other’s. This went on for almost two years. Then one day I happened to stumble across a photo of this individual on social media and that day my perspective started to change. Rather than be hateful I acknowledged that I was insecure that I did feel inferior and that I felt that I could never compete in the same league as this person. Once I acknowledged this I then took the time to pray and meditate and reflect on it. What was really going on? Why was I “idolizing” another human being? Why was this person better or more worthy than I was. I then realized that the person that I needed to work on most was myself.

Rather than being full of envy or greed or angered I decided to become motivated and inspired through my own thoughts of this individual. I decided to consider the reasons why I had been jealous all along and see if there was something that I could change in myself so that I could change how I saw myself in comparison. I started to think positively about this person and consider the attributes that this person had that I would like to adapt. This is easier said than done and it’s been a process but I believe a process of purification that God has been leading me through. I may never have the qualities of this person or this person’s life that initially drove me to envy but that is okay. I am called to something else, something more fulfilling and I’m on the path to getting there.

How many of you can relate? I’m sure so many of you can. Especially women because we are always comparing our looks, lives and relationships to that of other women. Instead of comparing yourself and allowing yourself to be overtaken with envy it would be wiser to seriously consider the qualities that that person possess that you could adapt into your life. Is it their looks? If so perhaps you may want to include physical activity in your day, consider taking more time to put yourself together, adopt a look that is appealing to your own persona. Is it their education or title or position? If so, then perhaps looking further into advancing your skills or education may be the way to go. Is it their livelihood or lifestyle? If this is the case then maybe financially planning and saving money to have nice things or go on exotic vacations is the way to go. There is something positive that can be taken from this ugly emotion and behavior if you put in the hard work. Jealousy is usually just a reflection of what you wish you could do, be or have with a mixture of your own insecurities.

Rather than focusing or even idolizing the “ideal” our time is better spent in prayer and meditation and reflecting on who we are and who we feel we are called to be. In the end if jealousy has taken over your life as it had for that time in mine’s seeking counsel and mental health services or confining in a trusted person could help bring about clarity and hopefully you will come out stronger than before and with a newfound action plan for improving yourself and your life.

To steer clear from jealousy keep an eye on your goals and attributes and focus on your own personal successes than that of the other individual(s). Chances are they fall short in their lives as well.

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