Are there times when you find yourself feeling resentful when you witness someone else’s good fortune? Do you become suspicious and possessive when someone you love shows affection for another? And if so, do you then beat yourself up for feeling this way?
Jealousy is an emotion that arises out of an attitude of scarcity, deficit, or lack combined with a sense of injustice or unfairness. Not only is there 1) fear of further deprivation, and/or 2) longing for what we desire, but frustration and/or anger comes along for the ride. The comparing mind asks, “Why them and not me?”
If a starving person watches you eat a delicious meal and asks for some of what you have, this is not jealousy. This is just plain hunger. But when that same person is also resentful of or angry with you for having what they don’t, this is jealousy.
When our needs are not sufficiently met in a particular domain, we find ourselves undernourished and in a state of deprivation. We may desire what others have and we may even feel sad or empty inside seeing others benefiting from what we need. We can learn to have compassion for this experience of loss, just as we would for a starving person. We can non-judgmentally take notice our internal experience and try our best to nourish ourselves.
It is difficult to celebrate others successes when we feel deficient in some way. We are so distracted by our own pain and suffering that it becomes almost impossible for us to take another’s perspective. There is less space for us to be objective. When we are well nourished and our basic needs are met, we are less susceptible to these insecure emotions. So the next time you notice yourself coveting what someone else has, you may ask yourself, “Am I jealous – or am I just hungry?”