In the era of social media, it is not difficult to find yourself envying someone for having the presumably better quality of life than yours. Jealousy is a standard human response to realizing that someone has something we don’t: being smarter, having a better car, having more money, dating more attractive partners. Even in the world of the Great Apes, who are our closest biological ancestors, and whose lifestyle mimics ours — there is a great sense of jealousy among males who have decreased access to females due to smaller body size. Therefore, the experience of jealousy is somewhat innate to our survival; It makes us work harder to achieve daily goals and to remain competitive among peers. While feeling jealous might propel us towards the higher productivity, usually overt jealousy can become toxic to our psychological well-being and even physical safety of others.
The best sign that your jealousy is getting out of control is when you are willing to cut ties with people you use to care about. This is the single best metric of estimating someone’s toxicity level, evoked by the experience of intense jealousy about someone else’s accomplishments and lifestyle that are preventing you from maintaining further interaction with the more successful individual. The feeling of resentment doesn’t only ruin relationships between close friends or family members; It can also decimate professional relationships. For instance, feeling jealous about your much more accomplished boss, or a mentor in college can lead you toward not learning valuable life lessons from these individuals. See, when it comes to mentoring experience in a professional environment, people that are much more accomplished than we are tend to be the best resource of information and networking opportunities. In fact, we can use our much more powerful mentors to build stronger professional relationships to become just as much accomplished as they have become. While it can be challenging to interact with someone whom we admire, yet feel jealous about their accomplishments, we should accept this interaction as a challenge of personality maturation — the ability to grow in wisdom alongside much stronger leaders.
Most people don’t need to seek help for feeling jealous about others. The only exception to this rule is when your jealousy becomes pathological, and prompts you toward engaging in behaviors that might be hurtful to others. The best example of that is the classic film Mean Girls, which portrays how jealousy amongst females fuels hatred and destructive behaviors. If your jealousy makes you internally miserable, depressed — then it might be a good idea to see a therapist. Usually talking to someone else, who has a lot more experience in dealing with psychological distress, can help alleviate the symptoms of pathological jealousy.
The first thing is to identify why you become jealous of others and to what extent it negatively affects your everyday life. If the jealousy stems from seeing stuff on social media, you should unplug from online sharing spaces for some time and recharge by focusing on your productivity. If you are merely jealous of your mentors and coworkers, you should feel inspired to become what they are through hard work. It’s easy to misjudge someone as ‘having it all,’ but it’s much harder to see the hard work they might have invested in becoming the successful individual you envy. Therefore, it is important to be honest with yourself about why you’re feeling jealous about other people’s accomplishments or lifestyle. If the reasons are more professional than personal, you can work on improving yourself to reach the level of accomplishments that others already have achieved. If the goals are more personal, sign up for the gym, or work on your conversational skills — for instance, just because someone is perceived as more good-looking than you are, doesn’t mean they have achieved success in other areas of the social life, like having strong communication skills. It follows that each one of us has the potential to succeed, but we have to have a reasonable plan for improvement.