Sometimes we get a subtle kind of thrill by indulging in jealous thoughts of other people, thinking that what goes on in the confines of our minds can’t really harm anyone. But for people who are consciously trying to better themselves and grow into their highest potential, indulging in jealousy can infact be a significant stumbling block to inner progress.
Why is that? Well, when we harbour jealous thoughts, we inhabit a mental space that consists solely of the person we are jealous of. In doing so we limit our possiblilities and our view of the world shrinks; we begin blaming other people for our current state rather than doing something about it ourselves.
Jealousy also brings us further away from true awareness of the world, as it invariably always exaggerates the person’s bad qualities, and these exaggerations then become our reality. It acts as a kind of a filter where we often see only the bad things about the person, and not the person as a whole.
And oft, my jealousy shapes faults that are not.
Jealousy is also very hard to get rid of, primarily because we indulge in it and do not make any effort to root it out. It is usually only after we have had a few tough experiences where friendships have been damaged or some other calamity has occured, that we decide to do anything about it.
The jealous are troublesome to others, But a torment to themselves.
It is also quite a secretive weakness. Outwardly we may be very friendly towards that person because we do not want to percieved as petty and vindictive, whereas inwardly we are thinking the most horrible things. However, rest assured that things always come to a head if left unchecked….
Yet he was jealous, though he did not show it,
For jealousy dislikes the world to know it.
– Lord Byron
Kicking the jealousy habit
- Think only about our own progress. If we waste time cherishing negative feelings towards someone, we are effectively giving that person a dominant role over our life. Our lifespan is so short here on earth, and there is so much to do in order to fulfill our life’s purpose – we have to feel we simply do not have time to waste on things like jealousy!
- Work on reducing your insecurity. It is often said that hate is a disguised form of love – even so jealousy often comes out of a need to be held in high regard by the person in question. Last week, I wrote on the topic of self-acceptance; if you can truly be happy in yourself without the need for approval by others, then fulminating on how others are better than you will occupy much less space in your life.
- Play a trick on your mind. If you cannot raise yourself to the lofty methods mentioned in the other points, then you can try a more human way of solving the problem. As jealousy often stems from a feeling of inferiority, you can instead say to yourself “I can sing/write/(other) better than him/her, but I do not want to waste my time” This is a clever way of rising above feelings of inferiority. However, making yourself feel superior to the person is hardly a permanent solution to the problem, but it can be used as a stepping stone to trying the other methods.
- Feel your oneness. Jealousy comes from a feeling of separation – the mind tends to build barriers between ourselves and others, whereas when we go beyond the mind and use our hearts of goodwill, we see that we are in fact all interconnnected, all part of one giant world family. In an ordinary family, when a sibling achieves something, we are just as thrilled as if we had done it ourselves. Similarly, if you feel that someone else who has achieved something great is part of your larger world family, then you can feel the same joy as if you had done the thing. My meditation teacher Sri Chinmoy once gave this very illumining answer: “When one part of my body does something, the other part does not feel miserable, because each knows that it belongs to the same body, and that the entire body is its reality. When I work with my mind, my feet do not feel miserable, because they have established their oneness with my mind….Unless and until we have realised others as our very own, we call them different personalities, different individualities. But if we can see and feel them inside ourselves as members of our own larger family, jealousy will disappear from our life of aspiration.”
Photo of the ‘green eyed monster’ :): Sri Chinmoy Centre Galleries