5 tips to break away from the destructive force that is jealousy.
If you are a seasoned marketer, a business owner or a C-Level professional, you’ve likely experienced jealousy. If you’re a “junior”, an up-and-coming in the game, jealousy will at some point likely hit you like a ton of bricks. Maybe, it already has. You’re driven, you have the highest of high expectations for your professional career. Yet, others climb the career ladder quicker than you. And that doesn’t suit you at all.
How do you cope with this? Here’s a few tips I’ve learned to be very useful. But first, let me tell you a story.
Recently, during a sun-drenched road trip to somewhere in Southern Europe, I stumbled upon a Facebook post labelled “Dealing with jealousy”, written by the internationally recognized DJ and producer, Patrice Bäumel. Allow me to recite the first paragraph: “In any competitive field, such as DJ’ing, we are confronted with the fact that other people are more successful than we are. This creates a feeling of jealousy and low self-worth in us which is amplified by social media. I grapple with this emotion myself and notice it in many, often extremely accomplished artists. Jealousy lets us focus on what we lack compared to others and ignore our own good fortune. It traps us in destructive thought patterns: Why not me?”
Exposing vulnerability in such manner isn’t something you see every day in the DJ industry. The DJ scene is a very competitive one. It’s about prestige. It’s about showcasing your best assets, your achievements, and ideally disguising your worst. Showing insecurities portrays a lack of self-confidence – which is bad for business.
I’ve read somewhere that jealousy is the fear that you do not have value. Jealousy scans for evidence to prove the point – that others will be preferred and rewarded more than you. Unsurprisingly, studies have shown that increased jealousy correlates with lower self-esteem.
“Jealousy lets us focus on what we lack compared to others and ignore our own good fortune”
– Patrice Bäumel, DJ and producer
The post in question made me think about my own relationship with jealousy. From childhood to adolescence and adulthood, through every stage and phase of my life, I’ve had highly talented people close to me. Like, annoyingly aspirational and talented. You know, the ones who seemingly possess all the right components to achieve prestige in life.
Eventually, they did. Right before my eyes. Was I jealous of these people? I am not afraid to admit this, but … Yes. Maybe not of their achievements per se, but of how easy it seemed for them to accomplish success. As if they were destined for greatness. As if it was handed to them. All the while, I juggled with big ideas. I was motivated. Progressive and innovative. Still, it felt like one step forward, two steps back. Again, and again. All the effort, none of the reward. Eventually, I completely gave in to self-pity and found myself wondering over and over again: “Why them and not me? Why and how am I not good enough?”.
The growing jealousy made me feel less-than. Unappreciated. Frustrated. It distracted me from me and made me construct a story made up of comparisons. I began echoing other people’s traits: the charm of a colleague, the coolness of a close friend, the wit of a next-door neighbour. The intellect and cultural ethos of a fellow student.
Sure, the occasional jealousy is natural and can even be beneficial. But when you start measuring yourself against other people, judging yourself based on their virtues, jealousy becomes unhealthy. This is exactly what happened to me. Jealousy made me doubt my self-narrative. It led to a negative self-perception and blocked me from discovering my true innermost talents and capabilities. Jealousy made me insecure. And jealousy feeds of the insecure.
Jealousy killed my professional growth and stopped me from making progress, from finding my unique voice and claiming my space. It simply made me doubt my own abilities, set irrelevant goals and standards incompatible with my actual qualities and values. It made me seek the extraordinaire I saw in others, but it only blinded me from my truth.
The 5 steps to overcoming jealousy
Ultimately, I felt stuck, trapped defenceless, while people around me – not just the cool kids and the prodigies, but EVERYONE – just powered through life. Right past me. I lacked power. I lacked will and motivation. I let jealousy hold me down. I simply had to break free. I had to fight my way out of the jealousy chokehold. To conquer my inner demons.
If you’re caught or ever get caught in an iron grip of envious thoughts, here’s a few things I’ve learned along the way to be very useful in becoming a more independent, balanced and confident individual. Hopefully they will serve you as they served me.
Learn the difference between competition and comparisons. Comparison is a thief of joy, and jealousy is often its partner in crime. I’ve read. When we compare, we feel inadequate. Competition – on the other hand – can be very inspirational. We are all competitors in the game called life. We compete for the same jobs, the same significant others, the same final slice of the pizza. In life, the concept of winning is a complex matter and not tied to the idea of someone else losing. And no one but you can judge or determine what winning looks like in your life.
Stop focusing on what others bring to the table. Find and focus on your niche, your passion, your values. And don’t be afraid to stand out. It might be hip to be square, but round’s cool too.
Practice gratitude. Learn to be thankful. It’s that simple. Gratefulness is a superpower. Acknowledging the good in life helps you amplify positive emotions. It helps you slow down and participate more in life. As Patrice Bäumel says: “Jealousy cannot exist in the same space as gratefulness.”
Talk it out. Whether we like to admit it or not, at one point or another, we have all been a victim of jealousy. Even the coolest one in the crowd. Your co-worker, your mother, your best friend. I know, jealousy is taboo. Like masturbation in the ’50s. But learning about other people’s struggle with jealousy can actually help you cope with your own.
Take it from Mr. Bäumel: You’re not a victim of others’ success. You’re in charge. You’re responsible. It’s all going on inside your head. It’s your inner voice fuelling your feelings of jealousy by filling your head with overly self-criticizing and suspicious commentary. Get this – and jealousy won’t stand a fighting chance against you.