At some point in our lives, we all have to deal with jealousy – either on the receiving end of it or experiencing jealous feelings oneself. Wherever you stand, in general, jealously is not perceived as a pleasant state of being. Namely, with it, anxiety, fear, insecurity and anger can come.
Jealousy is evoked by comparison to others. Our sense of self is to a great extent determined by how we see ourselves compared to other people. If we view other people as ‘more’ than ourselves, e.g. we perceive them as more attractive, smarter or perhaps they have more money, we can consider them as threats.
Jealousy is an instinctive emotion – it is a response to outer threats. Research states that people perceive this emotion to provoke both emotional and physical reactions directed towards these outer threats (Buss et al., 1992; DeSteno et al., 1995; White, 1991).
Jealousy does serve a purpose. According to Parul Sehgal, jealousy shows us the truth about ourselves. It can uncover hidden desires. If we look inside ourselves to see what exactly provokes jealousy, we can reflect and possibly learn from it. In this way, jealousy can give us direction.
Everyone is unique and has different qualities. In the pursuit of your own happiness, you should focus on yourself. There is always someone who is going to be prettier or younger or smarter or more talented than you. (N.b. we all want to look like Emily Ratajkowski, marry Ryan Gosling and go on a permanent holiday). However, that should not affect you in a negative way. On the contrary, other people can inspire you to go after what you want. So instead of defining yourself via comparison to others, define yourself by embracing yourself. You are in control of you and by this means, you can strive to become the best version of yourself.
Buss, D. M., Larsen, R., Westen, D., & Semmelroth, J. (1992). Sex differences in jealousy: Evolution, physiology, and psychology. Psychological Science, 3, 251–255.
DeSteno, D. A., & Salovey, P. (1995). Jealousy and envy. The Blackwell encyclopedia of social psychology, 342–343. Oxford: Blackwell.
White, G. L. (1991). Self, relationship, friends, and family: Some applications of systems theory to romantic jealousy. The psychology of jealousy and envy, 231–251. New York: Guilford Press.