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By Brianna Wiest

The funny thing about jealousy is that it is a feeling that eclipses judgment. Jealousy doesn’t resonate in the mind as: “I am empty,” it projects as: “There’s something wrong with the way that person makes themselves full.”

People who dislike you for “no reason” recognize something within you that they dislike within themselves. Trying to control whom likes you is futile for this very reason: it has almost nothing to do with you. You will find that sincerely happy people tend to generally like everyone, even those they disagree with. They can empathize with themselves, so they can do the same for others.

The same works the opposite way. When people are teeming with self-loathing, they identify ways to loathe others. Instead of “I am jealous,” often those who struggle with it will denounce: “They’re not that great,” or “They might have [this good thing] but it doesn’t matter, because they are still [this worse thing].”

The key to walking yourself out of the labyrinth of jealousy is firstly realizing where you are. It is recognizing: I am jealous. And then it is realizing that the problem is however you aren’t fulfilling your own desires.

Susan Piver, a Buddhist mindfulness teacher, put it like this:

“If I really think about it, I don’t actually want others not to have things that make them happy. What I find in myself is a tremendous well of longing for my own joy. And that longing is not bad in any way; it’s something to be embraced. And it sort of takes other people out of the equation.”

A desperate feeling of longing for what someone else has is almost always a clear signal that we’re missing something within ourselves. Most of the time, it’s not that we want exactly what the person we loathe has, but that we are angry because we don’t understand why they have gotten it over us. Seeing someone succeed makes us wonder what makes them more worthy, and because we feel threatened, we start pointing out ways that they’re not worthy after all.

It’s all one big psychological ploy to pacify our feelings, feelings that stem not from an actual anger that other people are achieving their dreams, but a recognition that perhaps it is not worthiness that gets us what we want, but the daring will to try even when we are feeling insecure.

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