3 Ways Jealousy Isn’t Serving You (And 3 Ways To Make It Serve You)

Now, much is said of jealousy, but rarely do I hear about how jealousy actually feels in our bodies. It’s a very unpleasant and awkward emotion, and it sort of shocks us when it first crops up.

I don’t think anyone wants to stay feeling jealous for very long:  it aches and it tears in all the wrong places. But just like all the other emotions we tend to feel, jealousy is simply another note on the spectrum of human emotion we can’t avoid feeling.

So, how do we deal with jealousy? Well, whenever I experience jealousy cropping up in me (when I see someone succeeding in their writing career in the way I wish to succeed), I try to acknowledge the ways in which this jealously is not serving me. I examine what jealousy is doing to me, and notice the ways in which jealousy is tricking me into believing its nasty lies:

How Jealousy Isn’t Serving You

1. Jealousy Gives You A False Comparison

When I get jealous of someone, I usually notice that this pang of jealousy carries with it a deep sense of unfairness.

When you grow jealous of someone you might feel the same way:

You are convinced that you and the person you are jealous of have been working off the exact same “owner’s manual,” but somehow the both of you are getting different results. His plane is soaring, while your plane remains grounded. So, if you’re convinced you’re both working off of the exact same owner’s manual, the only way you can explain his success is by coming to the conclusion that he just got “lucky.” But the idea that someone else “just got lucky,” no matter how great it is for the other person, always stinks of unfairness to you.

But this, I find, is where jealousy is at its meanest: it starts convincing you that life MUST be “favoring” this person over you.

But that’s a lie. Because you and the person you’re jealous of are not the same, and, what’s more, your journey’s in this life are not the same. It’s not as if life is an unlevel playing field–where some get all the lucky breaks and some of us don’t–it’s that we’re all on completely different playing fields. So, comparing your lack of achievement with another person’s achievement is like comparing apples to oranges.

If we understand that our jealousy is a false comparison, then we might find that we we’re not meant to live out the successes of the person we are jealous of. We are meant to live out our own.

2. Jealousy Is A Waste of Your Energy

You can’t help but feel jealous once in a while, but when you let jealousy consume you and motivate your day-to-day actions then jealousy can become a tremendous waste of energy.

Jealousy can even become dangerous to your health if, after a while, you begin to think about ways to thwart this other person, sabotage them, or try to pull them down to your “level,” or even below your level. You must catch yourself before you start to slip this deep into your jealousy.

You need to ask yourself:

Do I really want to spend another minute of my life wasting my energy on trying to sabotage someone else from succeeding? Or is that energy better spent doing something more productive for me, in my own life?

3. Jealousy Perpetuates The Scarcity Myth

Jealousy’s most potent venom consists of one very innocent-seeming–but very deadly–lie. The lie is that there is only a scarce amount of success, love, and abundance in this world. It is no wonder, then, why jealousy often leads people to want to thwart or sabotage another.

The jealous person is convinced that the other is actually harboring something that belongs to him, and if he doesn’t get it back, the jealous person is convinced that he’ll be without it for the rest of his life.

The myth of scarcity is the most dangerous way in which jealousy does not serve us. To think that love, abundance, and joy are limited is to live in a world filled with envy. If everything is scarce, then we must rush to cling, to hoard, to grasp, to steal, to lie, to cheat–whatever it takes to make sure that we hold on to the scarce resources of this world. The last thing we want is to look like a fool when we discover that, after the scuffle, we are the ones left empty-handed, and the other is left coveting the riches we were after.

But this is what often happens when you use the negative energy of your jealousy to try to thwart the other. Despite tearing the other down, you end up lifting the other higher up, and you feel exhausted and wasted by the end of the process. Scheming a devious plot, or mastering a cut-throat technique to thwart another person is unnecessary and, in the end, counterproductive.

How To Make Jealousy Serve You

Here’s how you can use the energy of jealousy to serve you:

1. You Can Use Jealousy To Remind Of Your Own Unique Journey

Jealousy can remind you that your journey is unique, and that it has its own unique challenges that are incredibly different from everyone else’s.

When envy rears its ugly head, let the nasty emotion remind you that there’s nothing wrong with you. Let it remind you that it’s not that you haven’t tried hard enough, or that life is unfair, or that god doesn’t love you as much as someone else. Realize, instead, that god loves you too much to give you a journey that is exactly the same as someone else’s. God wants you to have your own unique story to tell, and he’s got unique lessons only you can learn and teach to others.

In this way, what you lack, or what you think you lack, becomes holy. It becomes essential to who you are and to who you are slowly becoming. To look at it another way: the big gap between you and the person you envy is meant to be there. Because that big gap is going to push you in a direction the other will never go, or experience.

Who knew that what you lacked could end up becoming something that others could be envious of? But it’s true.

2. You Can Use Jealousy’s Energy to Propel You Forward In A Positive Way

Before jealousy can get to its most venomous state (the state of needing to sabotage others) you must shift jealousy’s energy and utilize it, instead, to put energy behind your own projects. Use jealousy’s energy to make your own dreams come true.

3. You Can Let Jealousy Remind You That There’s Enough Love, Wealth, and Success To Go Around

When you feel jealous, be happy for the person you are jealous of, and then realize that their happiness doesn’t threaten your own happiness. Realize that love, success, happiness–all things worth having in life are in abundant, limitless supply. You don’t need someone else’s treasures. Why? Because you have your own to find.

(FYI: The more you waste time chasing after someone else’s treasures, the longer you leave your own treasure abandoned.)

What To Do When You’re On “The Other Side” of Jealousy

Finally, there may come a time when you’ve moved past your own jealousy and you find yourself on the other side of it. When we are on the other side of jealousy, we may fear being happy or successful because we are wary of attracting the jealousy of others.

But we shouldn’t fear our own happiness or success. Because when we are happy and successful, it’s not because we’re stealing happiness or success from the rest, it’s simply because we are tapping into the well of abundance that is available to all of us, all the time.

To not let ourselves be successful and happy, simply because we fear the jealousy of others, is an injustice. Think about it this way: if none of us ever allowed ourselves to be successful and happy, just because we feared the wrath of jealously, then who would be left to show us that happiness and success is even possible?

The Antidote To Envy

Call me a dreamer, an idealist, or a foolish optimist, but I truly believe that we are all brought into this world to live out our highest potential, fulfill our dreams, and help others to do the same. We are not brought into this world to teach others how to steal; we’re here to teach each other how to give. We are not brought into this world to hoard “the scarcity of riches,” but to teach others how to find their own, unique riches. We are not brought into this world to steal the happiness away from others, but to be happy for others, and then find out what that happiness means for us.

much abundance,


What do you do when jealousy starts to get the best of you? Please share your wisdom with us in the comments below!

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32 comments on “3 Ways Jealousy Isn’t Serving You (And 3 Ways To Make It Serve You)

  1. storyfixer says:

    Very nice, Ollin. The thing I like about your site is the experiential, journey-focused aspect of it. My site is a “been-there-done-that-have-the-scars-to-show-for-it thing,” while yours remains so fresh and hopeful and wise. I’m hoping you’ll capture and leverage this as your USP, your edge — the relevance of the journey, the learning to be had. Because you always offer gold in that realm. L.

    • Ollin says:

      Thank you Larry! You are right, that seems to be the over-arching theme of the blog–it’s all about the journey and not the product.

  2. Oh Wow Ollin, you hit the points that I need to read to reaffirm all that I have been thinking and feeling. Thank you for such a wonderful post. Jealousy is a waste of emotion and time, and it does come as a shock to me when I experience it (I thought that was just me).

    This is one post I would come back to over and over again. Inspiring. It is like you access the very wise man inside of you with this post. Thanks

    Every single sentence hit home for me,but I loved how you said “To look at it another way: the big gap between you and the person you envy is meant to be there. Because that big gap is going to push you in a direction the other will never go, or experience.”

  3. Kari Scare says:

    When jealousy starts to get the best of me, I pray for a spirit of humility. An attitude of humility is the best way I’ve found to ward off negative attitudes like jealousy.

  4. clarbojahn says:

    Thank you for such an indepth look into jealousy and it’s adverse affects. This piece is psychologically sound for everyone. Not just writers. I’ll go back and re-read it again when jealousy rears it’s ugly head. Thanks for giving solutions as well as a definition. 🙂

  5. I like that you highlighted ways to have jealousy work for us. I think it is a real motivator for me often. Great post.

    • Ollin says:

      I don’t think many realize that they can use the energy of jealousy to move their own goals forward. It’s a better use of that energy.

  6. Janet says:

    What a wonderful post. I think of jealousy as a fear-based emotion. Someone once told me that decisions springing from a positive place (instead of fear) are always better, and I’ve found that to be true. Acting out of jealousy is like running away from something negative instead of running towards something positive. Your points are very true, insightful and applicable in real life – thanks Ollin!

  7. “Call me a dreamer, an idealist, or a foolish optimist, but I truly believe that we are all brought into this world to live out our highest potential, fulfill our dreams, and help others to do the same.”

    Amen brother 🙂

  8. 1. Like you new pic, gives off some heavy writer vibes, and the font you’re using for the headers. Not sure if that’s new or the pic just got me paying attention to details.

    2. I like your venture to redirect jealousy towards constructive outlets. Knowing our flaws and turning them to strengths is how we grow as people. . . I have to admit I feel myself disagreeing with it in principle; I follow the “two wolves” philosophy of personal growth. Jealousy is a negative thing, and good things rarely spring from it. Some paths might take you places you want to go, but they’ll always turn back towards somewhere you don’t want to be in the end.

    • Ollin says:

      Thanks! Yes, the font is new. It’s a whole new Word Press theme I’m using. I hope people like it. I think it’s easier to read at least.

  9. Long ago, I realized that jealousy can make you very bitter. Ollin, you’re right … that’s not a a very healthy state to remain in. What I’ve tried to do is to compete with myself – not someone else – to achieve my personal best. I try to improve on what I’ve done before. That way, it’s easy to avoid being envious of others.
    Enjoyed your column.

  10. Ollin, Another great post. I have really tried to get to a point in my life where I realize that jealousy serves no useful purpose. But every once in a while, it lurks in some dark place in my mind. When it does, I try to take a look in and get to the core of what part of me is incomplete. Jealousy is rarely about what someone else has, but about what we perceive that we don’t have.

    • Ollin says:

      “Jealousy is rarely about what someone else has, but about what we perceive that we don’t have.”

      Brilliant! Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  11. Love this! –> (FYI: The more you waste time chasing after someone else’s treasures, the longer you leave your own treasure abandoned.)

    I know we’ve both read The Artist’s Way, and Julia Cameron talkings about The Jealousy Trap (I think that’s what she calls it). This made me think of her exercise to reflect on the paralyzing envy-fits we’ve all had and use them as roadmaps for what we’d really like to do with ourselves (and why we feel the twing when we see someone else doing it). Her perspectice was that lots of envy comes from half-realized or forgotten dreams. True, there’s a nasty side to envy as well, but I liked her positive perspective on what to do with it.

    • Ollin says:

      Yes. For those who haven’t read that book, make sure to read Julia’s take on jealousy. It’s very helpful. Thanks for pointing that out Elise!

  12. LKWatts says:

    I have to say I’m not a jealous person usually. If someone is successful then they’ve obviously worked for it and good for them.

    However, what I can’t stand is arrogance, boasting and bragging. Someone who sees they’ve got something you haven’t and then delights in doing everything possible to rub your nose in it, whether you long for what they have or not. These are the people I cannot stand, not the successful ones who have clearly worked hard for everything they’ve got and never gave up. Modesty and thoughtfulness to other people’s feelings is sadly in short supply. This applies to everything, not just the world of writing.

    • Ollin says:

      Yes boasting is though to handle from people. But I just try not to be around those people and it usually works! Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  13. Thank you for this post Ollin. Jealousy has always been part of my life – on both sides – and it’s just awful. My degree of jealousy decreased but the other’s jealousy towards me did not. Well… I should not let them put me down… I won’t prevent myself from being happy and successful! 🙂

  14. Thank you for following my blog. There is one other kind of jealously – Godly jealousy – that is when you are jealous FOR the good of another – you want the best for them.
    Have a blessed day.

  15. Wow, Ollin! Your first point about how jealousy can serve us especially struck me. I hadn’t realized how jealousy could be a powerful reminder of how we are all so unique and how individual each of our journeys are. I know *I* don’t want to follow the exact same path as another! =)

    • Ollin says:

      In the end, we wouldn’t trade places with anybody would we? What we want is our own happiness, and seeing someone else’s happiness makes us think that what they have is our happiness–when that’s not true. They are just reflecting our own potential for happiness. Our job is to find out what happiness means for us.

  16. Betsy Cross says:

    I’d never experienced jealousy before this year for a brief but very intense period. I’m still not sure it was jealousy, but that’s what I called it. It was a horrible emotion. I felt sick to my stomach and consumed. It was really interesting. And I never want to experience it again! It was when I woke up and saw that things were as they were meant to be that the emotion calmed down and slid away. I think I was served to find out what was important to me, like you said, and to work towards that…not that I lack anything, but that I’m growing at my own rate.
    Thanks. Interesting to reflect!

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