Beware the Green-Eyed Monster…

Social media can be a very good thing. It’s good at getting the word out, or for sharing ideas. It can also be a place where we can feel inadequate, where jealous feelings of other’s lives can creep into our thinking and affect how we live.

First of all we must remember that what we see online is not the 100% truth.  What people post on Facebook or Twitter or any other media or forum is not the whole enchilada. We look up someone on Facebook who doesn’t post anything negative, has beautiful photos and deep insights and feel that we are inadequate in our own lives.  What we have to remember is that this is simply a portrayal of a person and not the person themselves. To know the person, we must know them in person, spend a lot of time with them and connect, soul to soul. You can’t do that on a computer in my opinion. You can find a lot of commonalities with what you both have decided to put out there, however it is not the big picture.

Jealousy is an interesting beast.  What causes it? More often than not, it is through experiences that we have gone through that reflect upon our current and future situations.  Something may have happened to us in the past, an emotional pain that casts its pall over everything.  If we are jealous of what we perceive to be someone’s great life on the internet, what is it that is making us jealous? What is causing feelings of inadequacy, or anger, or resentment? Could it be someone in your past that you didn’t live up to, or dreams that you haven’t fulfilled, failings that have been brought to light?  Do they reflect our inner demons, perhaps of low self-esteem or external validation?

Catch yourself the next time you feel jealousy creeping in. Examine it. Why are you jealous? What is the root cause? It is not the person causing the feelings but your own inner self. Why should that be? The person is not the root of the problem – what’s happening in the mind is.  We cannot blame other people’s lives for our feelings of jealousy for they all stem from within.

Wouldn’t it feel better if we let go of these jealous feelings? What if we celebrated others’ successes instead of wallowing in inadequacy? What if we realised that others’ lives are not a reflection of our own? What if we stepped outside our narrow worldview, our egocentric perspective and honoured others for being what they are? The world does not revolve around you, so why persist in these feelings?

Letting go of jealousy is hard. It requires a lot of investigation into the darker regions of the mind but it is well worth it.  We can lead happier, more satisfying and positive lives when we are aware of the green-eyed monster and lay it to rest. So, the next time you are on Facebook and think “my life sucks compared to hers/his” remember, not only are you not seeing the bigger picture; you are also not seeing your self.

4 thoughts on “Beware the Green-Eyed Monster…

  1. I have caught myself doing this one – mostly over other people’s book selling triumphs. My response has been to start saying more about where things go wrong for me, when I fall down and mess up, and to stop trying to put a polished face into the world. Owning the crap. It seems to enable other people to own the crap too, and share it, so I feel less alone in my bouts of rubbishness, and that helps keep the people I might be jealous of in some kind of perspective, and it means anyone looking at my life via the net may have a better sense that the roses are frequently growing in the shit 🙂

  2. I must confess I just don’t understand jealousy. Are people jealous of others because of the way they were born and that cannot be changed? For example, there are some things that would be nice (a head of hair again for instance!) but they’re just not going to happen. Why waste time on wanting something that cannot be?

    Are people jealous because of the way someone else’s life has unfolded? Most things in my life are the result of choices I’ve made somewhere along the line. I’d love to be able to play various musical instruments as well as some of my friends but I know I don’t practice enough; I’d sometimes like more friends but I’m not friendly enough; and so on. As such I must just take responsibility for the decisions I’ve made and live with them.

    If I find myself coveting some object I usually ask myself, “What would be different if I had it?” and the answer is nearly always “Nothing.” A new car; mine gets me from A to B (slowly) even if I have to hit the rear light to get it to work: a new guitar – it’s not the guitar that’s the problem, it’s my ability to play; etc. If I really need (want?) something then I just have to save up for it, giving up other, less valuable things if necessary to make it possible.

    I have the ability to change my life. If I’m dissatisfied with something then asking myself why I don’t change it usually solves the problem – it’s nearly always because I’m not prepared to take the risk/put in the effort/pay the price. (Your example of a “great life on the internet” illustrates this in a way. I have friends that have been more successful in their jobs than me but it has often been at the expense of their health or relationships. I wouldn’t have been prepared to pay the price they have for “success” in just one area.)

    The downside (I suppose) of my approach to life is that it makes me very unambitious. I must also admit that, as far as I can see, I’ve had a very easy life and haven’t had to face the problems that many report in their own lives (sometimes ad nauseam!) – but I don’t see that jealousy would have helped them overcome these problems. (I do realise that this easy life does make me very unqualified to offer advice to or comment on the choices of others so I don’t condemn their jealousy – I just don’t understand it.)

    Finally, can I take this opportunity to say thanks for your posts (and your Zen Druidry book) which have been both stimulating and reassuring? Much of what you say resonates with my own view of life; it’s quite nice to think I may not be the only one.

    • Hi Gwion!

      Thank you for your kind words. I can also relate to much of what you have just said. Jealousy really doesn’t serve any purpose at all, does it? If anything, it hinders our ability to make the world a better place. Yet, in today’s society, the media and marketing campaigns are all designed to make us want stuff, that we didn’t know we wanted, to quote the Simpsons. It’s a vicious thing and we really need to be aware of it.

      An acceptance of life as it is, imperfect as it is, will dissolve all feelings of jealousy. If there are things in your life, as you say, that you have the power to change for not only your benefit, but the world at large, then what is it that is holding people back, I wonder?

      With jealousy, it’s easy to blame the other person for making you feel jealous, thereby absolving you of doing anything to rectify the situation. I can’t live like that, but I try to understand the reasons behind the behaviour, even though I will never know fully the reasons why anyone does anything…

      I think ambition is overrated. If one is content, then enjoy that contentment instead of seeking the next big thing, I say. If you’re not content, then do what you can to change the situation for the benefit of all. I’ve never really understood people working themselves to death – that’s laden with multitudes of other issues, however ambition is something to strive for, it seems in our society, whereas contentment – not so much. Something is a little wrong there…

      Many blessings. x

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