Is Jealousy Healthy?
When often catching up with friends we discuss friendships, family, and relationships and if there is drama involved we find that the solid root of it all appears to point at jealousy, or so we think. I often question whether jealousy is in fact healthy?
Growing up, I’ve always been told jealousy is a disease and can manifest to the point it affects all aspects of your life therefore making me never entertain the thought. Being on the receiving end or seeing the people I know deal with it is really upsetting and as we grow older with all the changes in our environments, it seems to be taking over. Is there such a thing as healthy jealousy?
I know from a religious stand point it goes without saying that we should not covet thy neighbor’. It’s considered a sin. But that begs to question, why do people not try to prevent their inner green monster from coming out?
Jealousy is a feeling just like love and anger. The problem with jealousy is often how you deal with it. Jealousy is a massive problem if it becomes such a part of your life that it overshadows ever thing and destroys relationships. It can even lead to behavior that can cost you your job!
When I speak to both guys and girls they seem to confuse the feeling and the use of semantics comes to play. Terms like competition or hating are often used. Oh, how I despise both. They boil down to the same underlying issue jealousy. If you hone in on the general train of thought of wanting better then you’ll find most people are, in fact, jealous. For example, if my girlfriend is carrying Chanel then why on Earth can I not be carrying the same? That sense of individuality goes straight out the window.
This brings me to the point of jealousy manifesting itself in feelings of inadequacy and/or low self-esteem. It is somewhat normal to experience a healthy level of jealousy to be angry at the object of their jealousy, but keeping their anger under control. Some people develop a “stiff upper lip” whereby they experience jealousy and insist there is nothing wrong all the meanwhile they are tortured internally.
Jealousy doesn’t have to be an entirely negative emotion, although most of the time it is. A natural feeling, but normally how the individual reacts to it determines whether or not harboring it is healthy. People can be aggressive i.e. acting out and storming into your boss’ office to protest the promotion of a co-worker is a negative reaction as opposed to using that unsettled feeling to motivate yourself and take on additional duties or take on further education as a positive reaction to set yourself apart from the rest.
Using jealousy as a form of healthy competition can be somewhat good if it encourages you to work harder or improve on yourself. If you refer back to the earlier example of coveting your friend’s Chanel bag and you work hard for your own finances to achieve the same, then this can be seen as healthy’ jealousy. It goes without saying that this should come naturally and you shouldn’t have to use jealousy as the technique to attain what you want. I fully disagree with the thought that jealousy, at its most basic level, promotes survival for children and fidelity in adults. If someone doesn’t want to succeed on their own accord then that’s their problem. If someone wants to be unfaithful then that’s their problem. Jealousy should never be the reason we aim to be better people. Never compare yourself to others.
For those jealous folks out there, it is impossible to prevent how you feel but you can control how you deal with them. Rather than ignoring the feeling make a decision about how you will act on it. By holding it in you can lose control later. And for those who use the feeling to make someone feel bad in order to make themselves feel better, trying to control someone or even threatening ones they are jealous of is never okay. These actions are most common and should never be confused with caring for one another’.
Overall, the general rule is whether healthy or unhealthy jealousy should be a feeling avoided and/or dealt with at all costs. Do your best to work on yourself and genuinely be happy for others around you, be it your family, friends, partner etc. But most importantly, work on your own happiness.
Author: Miriam Nakhla
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