Almost everyone has felt it at some point: jealousy. Many may quickly think of a partnership, but the feeling also appears in many other areas, such as at work, in friendships or within the family. Basically, however, jealousy can be described as a "completely normal feeling", says Sarah Desai, coach for personal and spiritual development and author of "You are more than enough". In an interview with the news agency spot on news, the expert gives tips on how to deal with envy and co.
Her latest project is the "Women's Collection" on the meditation app Headspace, which focuses on the themes of community and empowerment. In it you also deal with the topic of jealousy. Why do we even get jealous?
Sarah Desai: Yes, this "collection for women" was created together with other experts. Specifically, I contributed meditations on two topics: jealousy and solidarity, which for me also belong together. In order to be able to behave in solidarity with myself and other women, it is helpful to know how I can better deal with the feeling of jealousy. By the way, this feeling occurs in each of us. It's really important to me to convey this: Jealousy is a completely normal feeling, like fear, sadness or happiness. If we can recognize and get to the bottom of jealousy, it can even be a helpful wake-up call for us.
How can we turn jealousy into something positive?
Desai: Jealousy comes from an observation outside of us. We may have friends around us who are very successful professionally, or we notice that a colleague was promoted by us, but we didn't. Then, when that uncomfortable and, for most, vague feeling of jealousy arises, it pays to change your perspective and really look inward. Why does that bother us a bit? What is it that annoys us most about the situation? It's probably the case that we've just encountered an unfulfilled need within us. Perhaps we would have liked to have been even more successful professionally, or perhaps we would have liked to have been promoted. And therein lies the great opportunity. So instead of staying on the outside and maybe throwing a joke at a friend or colleague, we stay with ourselves and allow ourselves to be motivated.
This is of course also the case in all other areas of life. Jealousy actually shows up whenever we long for something and is therefore an invitation to explore ourselves again.
What character traits are associated with intense jealousy?
Desai: In my opinion, there is no connection to certain character traits here. A person can be very insecure or very confident, in both cases jealousy will show up over a lifetime, not just once. That's just human. I also don't think the idea of looking at whether some people are more jealous than others and why is helpful at all. Instead of stigmatizing the feeling, I would rather like to see it dealt with more openly. Then it would also be easier for us to make jealousy talkable when we feel it. Right now it's still like this: Nobody wants to be the envious colleague or jealous friend. We'd rather be the patronizing colleague and generous friend, of course. We then all work our way through this ideal image together, instead of simply admitting that we are sometimes jealous.
How do you rate the expression "healthy jealousy"? Can jealousy be healthy to a certain extent?
Desai: Yes, this term shows the stigmatization of the feeling. If we talk about healthy jealousy, then there is also unhealthy jealousy. In my opinion, however, this classification does not lead to people being better able to deal with their feelings. So I would suggest that we look at it differently. I find it helpful to know that we can only see the world and every situation from our own point of view. I can't guess anyone else's point of view. If we now go back to the promotion, for example: Before I get angry and wonder why my superior might have passed me by, it's better to just ask. Only then can I find out why she made that choice. This is also a classic in all relationships, whether at work, in a partnership or in friendships. We often think we know what the other person is thinking or feeling in a situation because we infer that from our own experience. This results in many misunderstandings that we can only resolve in a joint discussion. It is quite often the case that our counterpart invites us into his world when asked. This gives us the chance to better understand each other's point of view.
How can we stop being jealous?
Desai: Not at all. That would be like making a resolution to never be afraid or sad again, or just happy. Does not work like that. It's not about avoiding feelings, it's about destigmatizing them. I'll do another example to illustrate this even better: Just because I meditate doesn't mean I'm always balanced. I still experience feelings like stress or inner turmoil, but I no longer identify with them and therefore suffer less from them. It is often the case that we cause ourselves even more stress because we think that from now on we can only be relaxed. But that's total nonsense. It's the same with jealousy. The next time we feel them, we haven't failed and we should be ashamed, quite the opposite. I can use the situation and get to know myself even better. What was the trigger this time? Where can I maybe look again? Ultimately, these are all just feelings that are either comfortable or uncomfortable, but the distress comes from the idea that something is wrong with us. However, we can assume that everything is fine with us, but that we are in a situation that is not ideal for us. So when in doubt, don't get rid of the uncomfortable feeling, but rather get out of the situation.