A lot of funny things happen when your BFF shows up with great news. While you open the wine and listen to them talk joyfully about their promotion/new relationship/beautiful apartment, you feel all at once proud and happy for them. But it's also totally normal to feel jealousy towards your friends' success, too.
And as far as feelings go, jealousy is pretty much at the bottom of the barrel. I mean, how awful is to compare yourself to your best friend? It can leave you wondering about the source of your jealousy, as well as what to do about it. As psychologist Nicole Martinez, Psy.D., LCPC, says in an email to Bustle, "There are many causes of jealousy ... Low self-esteem, insecurity, co-dependence, being possessive, trust issues, feeling as if you are not good enough, and bringing other past behaviors into your current friendship."
Basically, jealousy feels negative and horrible, and it can come from some pretty dark places. And that's exactly why it needs to be acknowledged, for yourself and for the sake of your friendship. The key is not letting it get out of hand, to the point where your friend no longer wants to share their good news, Martinez says. With that in mind, here are some ways to reign in your jealousy, and be happy for your friends' success.
1. Acknowledge Your Envy
The moment you feel that proverbial green-eyed monster rearing its ugly head, stop and acknowledge it. Your knee jerk reaction may be to tamp it down, but that rarely works. In fact, research has found that thought suppression is often ineffective, and can actually increase the frequency of the thought being suppressed, according to Sumitha Bhandarkar on TinyBuddha.com. So really feel your envy, and remember it's all totally normal.
2. Remember That Their Happiness Doesn't Hurt You
It may feel like it, mostly because we live in a competitive world, but there isn't really a limited supply of success to go around. Keep this in mind when thinking about your friend's recent triumphs, and remember that it doesn't affect your chances of happiness.
3. Look For The Source Of Your Envy
Like I said above, there are many sources of jealousy, so it can help to figure out where yours is coming from. "At first glance it may seem like the person who made you envious is the source of your envy. However, if you dig a little deeper, you may realize that the reason you feel envious has little to do with the person who brought out the feelings," Bhandarkar said. Don't hold it against your friend, but instead take this moment to figure yourself out.
4. Put Things In Perspective
Maybe your friend landed a new job, while you've been fruitlessly submitting resumes for months. When that happens, it can feel like your life is luckless and horrible, while everyone else's is amazing. However, this is simply not true. "Next time you find yourself beating yourself up over what someone else has ... Appreciate what you have, and yes, appreciate what you have that someone else doesn’t," suggested Emma Staub on HuffingtonPost.com. It'll be comforting to recognize that everyone's life has ups and downs.
5. Deal With Your Stress
If you aren't handling your jealousy well, it could be that you're tired, stressed, or overwhelmed. As Craig Malkin, Ph.D., said on Psychology Today, "Jealousy is a stress response, which means if you're already anxious and overwhelmed, you're likely to feel it even more intensely ... [So] manage anxiety with exercise, good nutrition, meditation or yoga, and plenty of supports." A little self-care may be just what you need.
6. View Your Friend As An Inspiration
OK, how's this for a novel idea? Instead of comparing yourself, or feeling negatively towards your wildly successful friend, view them as an inspiration, suggested Kayla Albert on TinyBuddha.com. If they got a great job, maybe you can, too. If they just traveled around the world, turn them into your new travel role model. Pick his or her brain for tips and tricks, instead of sitting there green with envy.
7. Deal With Your Feelings In A Healthy Way
By this point, I think we can really agree that jealousy sucks. That's why it's a good idea to deal with it ASAP in the healthiest ways possible. "Jealousy and envy are gut feelings, but you can nip them in the bud," said Melanie Pinola said on Lifehacker.com. "But first you have to realize it's happening." The second you do, talk it out, go for a run, or do some yoga — anything that will turn a negative feeling into a positive.
8. Have A Little Fun With It
I know I just said life isn't a competition, but if that's your jam, then use it to your advantage. "Competition ... can be helpful — as long as we don't take it too seriously and personally," Pinola said. Think about getting a healthy contest going between your besties, maybe to see who gets promoted first, or who wins the great apartment search. It can help bring a little levity to an otherwise heavy situation.
9. Try To Be Compassionate
Jealousy can easily blind you to other people's struggles. For example, you might constantly focus on your friend's perfect relationship, while failing to remember how much they hates their job. "These cases are more common than we might think — we just don't have the opportunity to learn about someone's difficulties when we're mired in envy of their seemingly charmed life," said Jessica Stillman on Inc.com. Remembering that their life isn't all rainbows and unicorns can be beneficial to both of you, and your friendship.
10. Team Up With Your Friends
Life is much better with a we're-all-in-this-together mentality. So start viewing your friends as partners in crime, instead of people to compete agains. "Having successful friends will ... up your chances of being successful, because if you’re supportive of them, they will be supportive of you ... So be a team player," Staub said.
11. Appreciate Your Current Situation
No one is on the same timeline — different things happen to people at different stages in life. So instead of comparing yourself to others, learn to appreciate where you're at right now. "Maybe you don’t have the career success or relationship satisfaction of those around you, but by working through anything that is less than ideal, you are achieving something great: growth. And growth will make room for the changes you’ve been waiting for," Albert said.
And that's really what it's all about — turning the attention away from your friend's successes, and instead focusing on yourself. Let jealousy serve as a reminder that your life isn't exactly how you'd like it to be, and use it help you make positive changes.
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