Do you really detest your business rival, or are you just jealous that he’s beating you at the same game?
Do you really think your brother has gotten a big head since taking that new job, or are you just jealous he’s become more successful than you?
Do you (devout Christian guy) really think your roommate has gotten unrighteously intimate with his girlfriend, or are you just jealous that he’s dating someone and you aren’t?
Do you really think your old buddy has gotten duller, or are you just jealous that he’s been spending more time with a new friend?
Do you really think everyone on the football team is a dumb jock, or are you just jealous of their athletic ability?
Do you really think some public figure is smug, or are you just jealous they’re achieving in a field in which you’re languishing?
Sometimes when we have negative feelings about someone, those feelings are justified; the person really is immoral, underhanded, egotistical, or just plain annoying.
But sometimes, we’re really just jealous that someone has something we want, and to submerge the cognitive dissonance which would arise in contemplating this lack, simply decide we, well, kind of hate ‘em.
Recognizing when jealousy is at work takes an ample dose of self-awareness and humility, but it keeps us from sabotaging relationships and stagnating our progress.
If someone has something we want, instead of wasting our energy on envy, we can recognize that which we desire, and go after it ourselves. Instead of letting jealously sour a relationship, we can check that impulse, and be grateful we have someone in our lives who possesses such admirable qualities.
Instead of justifying our contempt with a cloak of superiority, we can lift the mask and face the green-eyed monster hiding beneath.