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How to Best Deal With Jealousy

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Every issue, psychologist Ester Ghijsen answers an urgent question. This month:

I tend to be jealous of people my age who are more successful than I am.
What is the best way to deal with this?

Let’s start out by stating the obvious: everyone gets jealous sometimes. We all have that one friend that can bed every beautiful woman at the bar, or that co-worker who always gets to work on the best projects, while you spend your Friday nights putting in overtime on something boring.

What is important, though, is realizing that there are few things more counterproductive than being envious. Acting upon this emotion actually hinders you in achieving the things you want. So how to break this vicious circle?

First, stop focusing so much on others and take a look in the mirror. What have you accomplished so far? What are you good at? What did you expect out of life when you were younger? Did you know, ten years ago, that you would have a degree? Or that you would be able to travel the world, by yourself? Instead of comparing your piece of junk with your friend’s new BMW, try to enjoy the ride a bit more.

Second, instead of only concentrating on those who are doing better than you; ask yourself, who would look up to me and why? There are surely people your age who would be thrilled to be in your shoes. Comparing yourself with someone less fortunate kills that green-eyed monster inside you. And if you’re willing to even go a bit further: offer that  person some help or advice. It will make you feel good about yourself.

And then there is the confrontational strategy: grab that envy by the horns and embrace it. Be inspired. What is it about this person that you find so impressive? Talk to him or her. Soon you’ll find your womanizing friend actually would love to be in a long term relationship, and that your co-worker is miserable working around the clock since that cool project started.

Jealousy says more about you than it does about that other person. Learn from it. With that attitude, you move from focusing on the negative and regain control over your own happiness.

EstherAbout Esther:
Psychologist Esther Ghijsen runs her own practice in Amsterdam, named SuccesPsychologie, offering both therapy and coaching. She aims to help her clients reach certain goals by building upon their own strengths and qualities.

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