I came across this post at 3:30 am after a sleepless night complete with nasty cold. I have to admit, it’s oddy insightful: jealousy’s been a cultural theme, even a cultural commonality, since most of us in the West first had to read that Cain and Abel story in Sunday school. It didn’t even matter that Cain and Abel were in different market sectors: a little more attention and Cain got all upset.
Peculiarly, I see far more jealousy destroying what could be supportive relationships between women than I do between men, and it’s incredibly rare for me to see a man who is jealous of a woman. It happens, but usually it’s either a sibling thing or a romantic competitor thing. I’ve often considered one of the frustrating factors in my own friendships is the way that jealousy can rear its ugly head, and some just plain weird things women in particular come up with to excuse their bad behavior as they act out their jealousy.
As a counterpoint, I wanted to recommend the following if you are the person who someone is jealous of – and you probably are, because everybody’s got something that someone envies whether it’s good hair or really good pheromones.
Don’t call the person out on their jealousy. All that does is provoke denial, and you won’t get anywhere. While confrontation is all the style for women who like to demonstrate they’re strong, there’s a lot to be said for picking your battles.
Don’t bean count. Jealous people tend to be silent at your successes; in a way the silence is a bid for attention and it’s best not to give negative attention.
Make it clear that you’re happy for the person’s successes. Send cards, pick up the phone and congratulate that person, whatever is within your capacity to do.
Highlight your differences and point out how those differences are synergistic. No one is good at everything; I’m a great organizer but I suck at the smaller details so the truly detail oriented are truly a blessing to have at my back.
Let people see your failures. It humanizes you, and while some may get a catty little high out of seeing you mess up, it also stops people from projecting fantasies about how perfect your life must be compared to theirs on you.
I like to claim that I don’t suffer from jealousy, but I do. I get a little bitter when I see someone who’s been in the writing field for less time than me get published and I get annoyed when really good work by me gets passed over for someone who writes in a style I dislike. I have to remind myself that especially in this day and age, there’s even less room for comparing myself to others than there was ten years ago – and now everybody has the option of making their own game.