Jealousy is a potent force in anyone’s life. A touch of it can motivate you to become better and push you to achieve greater goals. Too much, however, can turn envy from a driving force to a detriment. Not only do jealous people often end up shooting themselves in the foot, they also destroy the relationships they have with other people. Whether the relationship is a serious romantic one, a familial one or a friendship, jealousy can quickly sour the happiness you used to find with another person. Unfortunately, it is very hard to control whether or not you are jealous of someone. You might not even realize something would make you jealous until you find yourself turning into a great big green eyed monster. Once that jealousy takes root, it is difficult to simply ignore that envy and keep it from affecting you and your reactions. So what do you do when you become jealous of a friend? How do you manage that envy and keep it from destroying a relationship you value?
Focus on the good in your own life.Gratitude is the enemy of anxiety and depression. It is also a potent force against jealousy and envy. Jealousy and envy often come from a place of bitterness. You not only want what someone else has, you feel that what you have is not enough. There is also often a sense of unfairness. You feel that you deserve whatever the other person has that you covet. You should be making the same amount of money that they do, or you should have the perfect relationship they have. You are not thinking about the fact that they make a lot of money because they work in a very high stress job or that their relationship is the result of careful communication. Jealousy paints almost everything in a bad light except for the object of that jealousy. When you are envious of someone or covet something they have, you do not think about the trade-offs they made to acquire that object or position. High paying jobs, for example, tend to require long hours and more stress. Rather than focusing on the fact that your friend makes more money than you, for example, think about how happy you are that your career is low stress or that working fewer hours allows you more time to pursue another hobby or passion. When you are busy counting your own blessings you are not worrying about someone else’s.
Stop comparing yourself to them.It is the refrain of the self-help brigade, but they are correct when they say that comparison is a nightmare for your own mental health. The fact of the matter is that there will always be someone who is more successful or appears to be happier than you. Someone will always be making more money, travel more often or be more attractive than you. That is simply the reality of the world. When you compare yourself to others, you always have a lens of some kind that you are looking through. Are you looking to see where you are found wanting in comparison to this other person or are you hunting for an excuse to see yourself as better than them? Regardless of which it is, comparison is a terrible thing. All it does is make someone in the equation look bad. Focus on living your best life and stop worrying about what everyone else is doing. Jealousy and comparison take an incredible amount of energy. You could probably have already transformed your life with the amount of energy you put into comparing yourself to others.
Create boundaries.Sometimes jealousy is not entirely your fault. Your friend might actually be acting in a way that is almost guaranteed to make you jealous or bitter and not realize it. After all, if you just lost your job and your friend keeps gushing about their recent promotion, you are going to struggle to be truly happy for your friend. Similarly, if your fiancé just left you, your friend should be tactful enough to realize that you may not want to listen to how they think their significant other is planning to propose.
In cases like those, you need to set up some boundaries for your own good. Explain to your friend that you are happy for them, but listening to their good news feels like rubbing salt into your wounds. Ask that the two of you avoid discussing certain things in order to keep you from becoming jealous, bitter or lashing out at your friend. Your friend should understand. After all, no one likes to be constantly reminded of things that went terribly wrong in their life. Frankly, if your friend cannot understand why it hurts you when they talk about how wonderful it was to have a vacation with their whole family right after you lost a loved one, they may not be worth talking to in the first place.