THE BLOG

The Gift of Jealousy

03/17/2015 08:31 am ET | Updated May 17, 2015

It isn't the prettiest side of your personality, but there it is: jealousy.

Ick.

How very seventh grade of you.

But all of us, no matter how far beyond seventh grade we've gotten, feel jealous sometimes.
And here's the news flash -- jealousy is a gift.

Jealousy is your gut's way of telling yourself that first of all, whatever it is, you want some. And secondly, you believe that you could have it.

After all, you are never jealous of those who have things you don't want. Imagine that your best friend just added an amazing rare frog to her Rare Frog Collection. Feel jealous?
I didn't think so.

If you have no interest in frog-husbandry for yourself, you don't feel jealous. Mystified, maybe, about why she might want to collect frogs to begin with, (in much the same way your family might feel about you and your choice of a career in the arts) but in no way jealous.

Now if that same friend suddenly lucks into an all-expense paid six-month artist's retreat in a villa in Provence, you feel jealous. Because that, you want.

This is part one of the gift: the simple acknowledgement of desire.

I don't know about you, but I sometimes pretend that I don't want what I want. I pretend that things are OK with me when they aren't. I pretend to be patient when I feel impatient. I pretend I don't mind being passed over when, in fact, I mind very much.

Have you done that? Tried to keep that "I Want" voice quiet? Hurts a bit, no?

The second half of the equation, and perhaps the more important half, is this: you believe are capable of getting it. It's true. You are only ever jealous of things you believe you could do or have, yourself.

What if your best friend just swam the English Channel?

Still not jealous, are you? Of course not, because that's not something you believe that you have the ability to do.

But if that friend wins an award in something you think you could do, or reaches some milestone you aspire to, or obtains some neat thing that you're pretty sure you could obtain if only the circumstances were right, then that green-eyed light is likely to start flashing.

Jealousy is a signal from within about desire and will. Add a little anger (also known by it's polite name, frustration) and the recipe is complete. Again, it's not pretty, but it is an important message from your inner self -- ignore it at your peril.

So the next time you find yourself trying to muzzle that nasty little voice of jealousy, take a moment and ask yourself:

-- Do I want that?

-- Do I think I could have it?

And if the answer is yes to both, then maybe it's time you took some steps toward whatever it is. Baby steps. 15-minute per day steps. See if making a little progress toward your own goals doesn't turn that jealous-monster voice into a happy-cheering-look-at-me-go voice.
Keep making those baby steps toward your goal, and I bet someday soon, someone will be jealous of you.