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Four Steps Out of Jealousy

Updated: Jan 25, 2023

God I’m jealous.

And it’s worth noting because if I’m honest, I don’t get jealous often. I worked hard in my 20s to curb those emotions because I was comparing myself to people I didn’t want to be. You can’t be jealous of someone for their wins if you don’t want to take their losses too. So I knew I wasn’t really jealous of the people I was exposed to, people who [insert desired activity here] because to get there, they had worked hard in industries I didn’t want to work in or maybe, they had chosen not to work at all and I didn’t fancy either journey for myself.

But where it really strikes true is when someone who seems to be in a similar position to me, is achieving all the things that still somehow seem so far out of my grasp. Argh!

And I’m sitting here reminding myself that we’re all part of a whole that makes us who we are. To take Matthew Hussey’s metaphor, we are all trying to be the best chefs we can with the ingredients we have and if I’m honest, I have ingredients for a few recipes and I’m not up for making just the one cake.

But that’s the issue or perhaps the realisation. I like multiple cakes but multiple cakes take time. And when you make them, they might be smaller, less impressive cakes rather than one big, patisserie perfect, chocolate tiered fondant cake.

In writing this, I’m realising too that I need to be patient or realistic with myself. Yes, I can have it all but I can’t expect it all immediately. And certainly not in a finished, perfect way if I want to stick to multiple cakes. I’m making that choice and I have to own it.

Why do we compare? It seems so unhelpful and upsetting. Certainly as a competitive person, I appreciate a leader board can be incentivising to know how you sit in the stats or to drive you forwards and maybe, if you have real will power, it’ll allow you to know when to congratulate yourself. But beyond that, comparison, what a relentless, thankless companion for this journey.

Jimmy Carr in his interview with Stephen Bartlett spoke of using our imposter syndrome and insecurities as a detector for where we need to work harder and on what. Like a metal detector, digging these insecurities out, looking at them and then choosing to keep or leave them. This is a technique that I am trying to work on right now. And so, let’s try out this checklist:

  • What is the insecurity that this jealousy has evoked in me?

  • Is it true?

  • Am I currently doing anything about changing this insecurity?

  • What am I going to do next?

And actually, I genuinely do feel better. I always lived by the mantra, if you’re going to complain, either do something about it or stop complaining. Because complaining (after the initial necessary outlet rant) prolongs our suffering and cements our beliefs around what is happening.

And this is a dangerous place to be.

There have been a few studies around pupils becoming more or less intelligent depending on what their teacher tells them in the experiment. Intelligent kids genuinely perform less well than they should because someone has told them that they won’t do well. Imagine.

Don’t tell yourself you’re something that you don’t want to be.

Hear the insecurity, identify what it tells you and then start making the changes.

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