The Gift of Jealousy

When it is denied, avoided, and pushed down, jealousy burns away our confidence and dries up our satisfaction. It inspires feelings of failure and lack. It triggers the fear of exposure by pointing to our vulnerability and to the shame we try so desperately to hide. It becomes a screaming shrew, eyes beady and red-rimmed, face bloated and flushed, mouth open and panting from the heat of that fear. It is confusing and maddening. It feels absolutely unfair.

Jealousy is a difficult emotion to love. It often leads us to lash out, to seek external validation, or to distract ourselves as quickly as we possibly can. Indeed, it is natural to be ashamed of our jealousy, or to become angry at the injustice we feel when it arises. But, just like all other versions of pain, jealousy has a very important purpose in our lives. When it is allowed with breath and without blame, it is a powerful alarm that shows us how to value our place in the world in a more complete way.

If we are able to set aside our reservations, and to love the truth of this potent form of pain, we can begin to open our minds and hearts to our feelings of inferiority, thereby understanding that jealousy actually has nothing to do with the success of another. It arises due to an innate belief in our own incompetence. Jealousy gives us the opportunity to examine these beliefs, and then to move past them and toward the appreciation of our potential. It has the power to free us from all covetousness by asking, “Why would you covet anything but yourself?”

When we are willing to be still and sit in the center of its flame, jealousy no longer burns away our confidence, but rather burns away our shame. It becomes a revelation of what we have, and of the gratitude within that awaits acknowledgement. With conscious breathing and true, loving acceptance, jealousy cleanses our hearts of all misguided beliefs about our worthlessness. It reminds us that love is the infinite energy behind everything, and that it provides for all. Another’s success cannot diminish us; only the denial of our pain can do that.

Jealousy teaches us to live in the present by releasing us from bondage to the past. It reminds us that what we once hoped we'd be has nothing to do with what we are. When we say yes to jealousy by breathing through it, feeling it, and loving it, without blame or attack, we learn that we have everything we need to become the fullest version of ourselves. We learn that all of us hold a space in the universal picture of perfection. We glory in the successes of others, then, because we know that their success is, in fact, ours.

And, yet again, through pain we find peace.