A Coaching Power Tool Created by Cassidy Nasello
(Work-Life Integration Coach, GERMANY)
The most relevant definition for “jealous” was from Vocabulary.com:
Feeling or showing envy of someone or their achievements and advantages
Being called jealous could never be confused with a compliment. In fact, it’s a downright insult. Yet, many of us harbor jealousy of others. It starts when we are little and begins to compare ourselves to our friends on the playground. We lack the understanding of our differences and often are not taught about the beauty of these differences. As self-defense, we learn to create stories about why they have what they have and why we don’t. Anger ensues and we can build up to feel as harsh as hatred–even towards our own friends. We might even keep people in our lives to get close to what we want. Rather than learning from those we envy, we often get lost in our limiting beliefs and negative emotions which further stick us in our cycle of negative thoughts.
If jealousy becomes a familiar feeling that is easily accessed, there is no shortage of opportunities to deploy it. In The Art of Happiness, the Dalai Lama said,
In the case of wanting more possessions, if that is based on a mental attitude that just wants more and more, then eventually you’ll reach a limit of what you can get; you’ll come up against reality. And then when you reach that limit, you’ll lose all hope, sink into depression, and so on.
Even when jealousy sparks a competitive spirit that is productive in acquiring more, but as the Dalai Lama stated that there are limits and there will always be someone more successful. So, even if it is jealousy that fuels our competitive side, it is important to recognize the pitfalls of this approach and how we likely may still feel unsatisfied even when we do reach the proverbial top.
So how can we shift our perspective on jealousy so that we can be healthy, goal-oriented humans, full of gratitude? We can let ourselves be inspired by others and then we must use that to look inward to our own desires.
Perspective on jealousy in the context of competition
Jealousy can rob us of time and cloud our vision of what we actually want.
Consider Sarah, who was raised on the sports field and went to a competitive high school. She always knew how she ranked against the competition and was jealous of the faster thrower, better student, and prettier friend. She went to a reputable college and afterward found herself in sales, where she could find her competitive spirit and earn whatever she wanted. Her hidden jealousies fueled her socially acceptable competitiveness and she was rewarded financially for her drive. But with all her success, she still felt like something was missing. It was always about the next deal she had to close.
After Sarah had her first child, she found herself less competitive and distracted by this new life she was responsible for. The demands required to earn her previous salary started to not seem beyond her reach. Even when she went back to work, she had lost her will to try. Sarah had only learned how to value her self-worth by the competition that was fueled by jealousy. Without the numbers going up on the sales board, she didn’t know how to value herself. She also didn’t know what she wanted out of a career.
Sarah struggled emotionally with this conflict between unhealthy competition and fulfillment. Through a lot of self-reflection and meditation, Sarah had to consider who she admired. She was curious about the freedom tied to entrepreneurship and was inspired by her friends that freelanced. She also fantasized about what life would be like working 1:1 with clients and moving about the city all day.
Sarah took that reflection and then tried to remember what she admired about her childhood self. She loved to dance around the house and rearrange things. She did it for herself and nobody else. Combining what she admired in others with her own childhood passions, Sarah had the epiphany that she wanted to be an interior designer. Her passion for making things beautiful had never died, it just went dormant from getting swept up in her jealous nature. Sarah then took steps to fulfill her dream and now brings happiness to people through her creative design. She continues to strive to admire other interior designers, rather than feel jealous of their success.
Admiration in the context of competition
The definition of admiration is “a feeling of wonder, pleasure, or approval.”
The spirit of admiration is a positive one. It is a light feeling and one that isn’t dissimilar to respect, inspiration, appreciation, and gratitude. What we admire can show us what we truly want. It can also inspire us to take steps to work harder or gain knowledge we don’t possess. Who we admire and what we admire about them can show us what is possible in the world.
Just as we might admire a piece of fine art, we can admire what our competition might be doing to achieve their successes. Sometimes we admire someone with virtues or things that we want, but with a sense of appreciation for what it took for that person to achieve it.
Admiration does not have to be a passive feeling. Admiring someone in your professional field can inspire you and guide you on your own path to greatness. Perhaps you might find out what training a person underwent and seek out a similar path. Maybe you admire the healthy lifestyle someone has created for themselves and you realize that you can achieve that, too. Admiration encourages us, while jealousy can discourage us. Reframing the perspective of jealousy to one of admiration can be a powerful tool to achieve your goals on a happier, more fruitful path.
To admire, though, we must be vulnerable and accept our own areas for growth and also accept where we are, with appreciation and gratitude. In Dare to Lead, Brene Brown said,
Vulnerability is not weakness, and the uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure we face every day are not optional. Our only choice is a question of engagement. Our willingness to own and engage with our vulnerability determines the depth of our courage and the clarity of our purpose; the level to which we protect ourselves.
Uncovering our desires through admiration
Admiration can serve as positive energy and a path towards a brighter, more fulfilling future. Lacy Philips, founder of To Be Magnetic™ platform for manifesting what you want in life said, “When we idolize or obsess over these heroes, crushes, influencers, and public figures, it is actually our soul projecting what we are personally capable of or what we need to open up to to receive what we’ve been calling in.”
Recall someone you might have been jealous of in the past. Now tease out the qualities that you admire about them? What challenges have they overcome? What hard work have they done to get what they have? What are you feeling when you think of them in this new context? What could also be true for you? What jealousies do you have to resolve before you can admire someone else?
Understanding your own relationship with jealousy can have an incredible impact on your presence in all the relationships in your life–both personal and professional.
Powerful questions to ask a client could be:
- What would happen if you admired your competition?
- What do you admire about your competitors or friends that you see in yourself?
- What would you ask your competitor(s) over coffee?
- What would be a way you could learn from those you compare yourself to?
- What could be something they might admire about you?
- How might a jealous spirit negatively affect your ability to succeed?
- Who do you admire with no jealousy and what do you admire the most about them?
Once the client is open to shifting from a jealous mindset to a perspective of admiration, a coach might ask about how they can learn from these people and in fact be inspired. positive relationships where they admire someone.
- Who have you been jealous of in the past?
- What did they have that you wanted?
- How did your jealousy impact your behavior?
- What could a client do with their awareness of jealousy?
- What new perspectives are available when you admire the competition versus feeling jealous of it?
- How can letting go of jealousy serve you?
Dare to Lead, Brene Brown
The Art of Happiness, TK
Lacy Philips, founder of To Be Magnetic™