“O, beware, my lord, of jealousy;
It is the green-eyed monster which doth mock”
─ William Shakespeare, Othello
It was William Shakespeare who first described jealousy as the green-eyed monster, and then there is “envy.” Are they the same? No, but the come from the same source. I may be jealous of someone’s sense of humor; I may be envious of her car. Whether we jealously look at someone as a person or envy their possessions, both monsters are rooted in fear and low self-esteem.
Many years ago I worked with two women who were hired at the same time, and at the same level. They were both successful however, they worked for different bosses. One woman got promoted several times while the other woman’s boss was stingy with handing out promotions. The woman who wasn’t being promoted as quickly was absolutely miserable; she was constantly jealous of the other woman and in fact, it came to erode their working relationship.
I know for a fact that the woman who was jealous came from a family where both parents were domineering, and nothing their kids did was ever good enough. The father, especially, made it clear that they never measure up. She took her lack of promotions as a personal vendetta on the part of her boss. In time, the jealous woman left the company.
Whether jealousy or envy, both traits can block you from having a happy and satisfying life. In fact, the emotions can have exactly the opposite of the envisioned effect. One would think that jealousy is a motivator. “I am jealous that she’s a physician! I have always wanted that. I will work hard to be a physician too!”
Jealousy is usually not a motivator, but a stopper.
In the mind of a very jealous person they are secretly thinking:
“Oh, I’m not smart enough to be a doctor. I’m just an administrator.”
The hard part in overcoming the green-eyed monster is in seeing it for exactly what it is. It is hard to make the transition from: “I wish I could do that,” to “What are the steps I need to take to do that?”
It not only takes planning, but it sometimes takes courage to go about living your ideal life. For a dream of medical school, it is not just the undergraduate degrees but medical school, internship and residency. Whether a person wishes to be a physician or a trained chef or a fine artists, there is a point where glamor must give way to reality.
Reality is tough
In designing your ideal life, I need to communicate that whether you plan out the many steps that are involved to reach a career goal or have serious discussion with someone (or yourself) of your fears and the messages put in your head about failing, you must be deeply rooted in reality.
Understand that the images we get from programming like “Reality TV,” are almost all fiction. When the cameras and the lights are turned off, the actors and the personalities go their separate ways. Each show is a multi-million dollar enterprise and each show is rigorously edited and scripted.
I want your life to be real and I want your life to be as ideal as it can be, but it does not have to be perfect, because none of us is perfect. Don’t be jealous or envious, be real.