The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Laura Berman Fortgang Headshot

Envy and Jealousy: Apps for Your GPS

Posted: Updated:

Whenever a friend succeeds, a little something in me dies. -- Gore Vidal

No one likes to admit to feelings of envy or jealousy, but they are as common as we are human. It doesn't mean you're a bad person if you have these emotions, but they aren't pleasant to your nervous system. Understanding the source of them could help you recognize them as messages from your soul and take positive action. Heeding their call can get the mean, green monster out of your system.

Envy can actually be a healthy emotion if it is talked about and examined. If you can be open about it, it may very well be what will keep it from hurting you, the object of your envy or your relationship. It is not uncommon for colleagues or friends to say something like: "You're going to present at the national sales meetin -- wow, I'm envious!" In this context, it could be a nudge that something in your own life needs to be augmented and attention paid to. If you'd like the recognition or opportunities to speak, this event with your friend might inspire you to go to Toastmasters or get a speech coach. You might even go to the powers that be and find out what it would take for you to be asked to present next year. The envy can be focused into positive action.

Men [and Women] despise great projects when they do not feel themselves capable of great successes. -- Luc de Clapiers de Vauvenargues

Jealousy, on the other hand, is the darker shade of green of this emotion. If you want to bring down your perceived threat or no longer feel you can listen to them speak of their successes, it is because they have touched an even deeper chord in you. Jealousy often reflects doubts and fears about us. We may fear that we don't have what it takes to create a success for ourselves or we may be afraid of being abandoned or left behind if someone we know moves on to a richer landscape. Radical action is required here. If it's appropriate, depending on who you're jealous of, it's OK to speak about it, but be sure you are taking responsibility for it or it will damage the relationship. Taking responsibility might mean doing some introspection about where your doubts and fears come from and taking action to overcome them.

Nothing arouses ambition so much in the heart as the trumpet-clang of another's fame. -- Baltasar Gracian

I have seen envy and jealousy dealt with two ways in relationships. One is to flee the relationship in the name of self-preservation, which is fine. The other is to use the emotion to support each other -- two people, admitting they are envious/jealous and creating a safe place for each other where they can challenge each other to set and reach their goals. It requires a tremendous amount of respect for each other and the ability to be sensitive to the very precious vulnerability you have shown each other. It's the high road, but with honesty and compassion, it can be done.

The mean, green monster is an opportunity to grow. If it visits your door, face it head on and heed its message. It's the quickest way through it. It's easier to be bitter and find ways to justify it, but it's more rewarding if you let envy or jealousy be your teacher.

Do not despise or hate your neighbor because they have been a success; take care of your own case. -- William Tecumseh Vernon

For more by Laura Berman Fortgang, click here.

For more on GPS for the Soul, click here.