Thursday, April 22, 2010

Jealousy

For as long as I can remember I have always hated the emotion of jealousy. I hate how it makes people do things they normally wouldn't. I hate the wall it erects between two people. And I really hate the way it makes me feel when I experience it first hand. 

Someone asked me about my thoughts on the subject of jealousy. I thought I would share them more widely here. 

For the most part, I am not a very jealous person. I have never been jealous when it comes to my love life. Maybe because I feel pretty secure there. I mean even in my dating years when a guy I liked liked one of my friends I was fine with that. I guess I just figured that if he didn't like me, that was reason enough not to like him. And I wanted my friends to be happy. I was happy for them that a guy awesome enough to have caught my eye was into them. But even this assumes the underlying emotion that all of this stems from... charity.

If we have true charity, we do not feel jealousy. I love my friends and am happy for their successes and joys. It is much harder to combat jealousy when the person of whom we are jealous is not someone for whom we feel that charitable love. I am still working on how to rid my heart of all jealousy there. It is not always easy to hold onto true charitable love for people we feel we are competing with for a valuable  and seemingly essential prize.

In these cases, I think the key to getting rid of the jealousy and feeling the love is stepping out of the competition. In the case where the prize is the attention or affection of a person, parental or otherwise, we either need to feel secure enough in the love of that person to not feel a need to compete or we need to not care or need that attention or affection. 

Things get super difficult here when we are rightfully insecure in the affection that should have (spousal, parental, familial.) In such cases, our souls are wounded and thus more prone to jealousy. It seems to me the only real remedy for jealousy here (and for the wounds that allow it to fester) is a miracle wrought by the atonement of Jesus Christ. 

I am still working out in my mind and heart how this all works. But I believe that there is power in the atonement to heal all of our wounds. I know I have felt its healing effects over the last two years. I also believe He can fill us up so much with the love of the Savior as to compensate for any love lost or never offered by any other human being.

Last night Ann Marie was a bit miffed at bed time. She began a very dramatic speech about how all her friends get to play all day and she just has to work and clean all day and how sad her life is. (Note this was just after the two of us got home from our neighbors where she had played with their kids for at least an hour.) She said she was jealous of her friends.

So I started listing her "privileges" to her. Someone once said that if life was fair we would all live in a grass hut in China. I pointed out one by one all the blessings she is privy to for a good 5 minutes. By the time I finished, I think she felt a little less jealous of her friends and a little more grateful for her life. (Though she was pretty sure I was wrong about how one day she would be grateful she learned to work from an early age.)

If you are still reading, thanks for putting up with my stream of consciousness style on this subject. To sum up: if we want to get rid of jealousy in our lives we need to turn to the Lord. We need to seek to feel charity for those of whom we are jealous. We need to ask to be filled with the love of the Savior to overcome and obliterate our insecurities. And we need to focus on all the blessings we have been given in their own light and not in comparison to others.

Now I think I better start following that recipe for the one or two people I of whom I often feel jealous. Anyone out there got any other suggestions on overcoming jealousy? What has worked for you?

12 comments:

Jami said...

Service, hard work, counting blessings, telling my husband to tell me all the wonderful things about me. He is pretty good about telling me to knock it off in a way that I feel good in the end. Counting my own blessings really is the biggest. Thanks for the post!

Allison said...

I think I do pretty well with this too, but I also have one or two people in my life I find myself feeling jealous of.

I just try to remember that we never know the whole story. No one is perfect, no one's life is perfect. And even if it was, it is not ours to covet. Every life ebbs and flows and I try to focus on making mine as good as I possibly can so I can reach those high points more often.

Sue said...

I try to exchange jealousy for sincere admiration and appreciation of their gifts. I consciously compliment them and do my best to become a fan. I serve them in some way. In doing these things, I feel my heart softening and usually end up rooting for them rather than envying them.

She Made Mention said...

Sue... I love that. Stephanie... you rock!

I just want to keep following the Lord's example. If we all are trying to think and act as the Lord would have us act, by doing those things that Stephanie and other great woman have metioned, then we might just overcome the toxic act or emotion of jealousy.

Thanks to all of you!

ALS said...

Thank you for this post.

Emily said...

I heard a definition of jealousy that I liked. "Jealousy is fear of losing something that you don't have." I think gratitude is the right approach, but also letting go of the fear that there is not enough...enough love, enough time, whatever. Learning to fill our supply from the "Infinite Source" helps to eliminate the fear of going without. We replace it with faith that all our needs will be met in love and with plenty. Thanks for helping me remember that today. :)

s g said...

What a great post Stephanie, something I think everyone can relate to. I have to agree with you and some of the other comments--Charity and gratitude have definitely helped me. I pray for gratitude EVERY day, asking to help me remember and always be grateful for my blessings.

I know I can always do better, comparing is so easy to do and nothing good ever comes from it!!

Amanda said...

I'm still trying to work out a way to make my children not feel so jealous of each other and my attention.

Melanie said...

Compliment the person you are jealous of. Tell them how much you admire them.

shanan said...

needed this. thanks steph.

Amy said...

Great topic that a lot of people need to work on, including myself. I don't often struggle with jealousy, but when I do, I try to look at everything that I do have. I don't get jealous in my marriage, however, we have a secure relationship. We have struggled financially so that's when I have the tendency to get jealous. I know that a lot of people are in debt for what they have, so I try to look at it differently. I don't have a lot, but I also don't have a lot of debt and for that, I am grateful. (This is not to say that I am better than people who have debt, that's not at all what I am trying to imply.)

As other people have stated, counting our blessings, giving service, and staying close to the Lord will help us overcome any obstacle in life, including jealousy.

RhondaLue said...

I was actually thinking about this subject recently as well. I'm doing a post about it soon. Would you mind if I borrowed a paragraph or two of this post to put on my blog? Of course quoting and giving proper credit to you! Let me know
RhondaLue30@yahoo.com

Thanks.