I can be a jealous person. I make a conscious effort to try and curb that emotion because it certainly doesn't feel great, but I don't think there's any shame in experiencing it from time to time. Jealousy is a natural part of being human. We exist in a world with so many people and so much stimulation around us that it can sometimes be difficult not to ask "why not me?" when you feel like someone else has the cookies you want. When you're feeling jealous, the important thing to remember is that it's not necessarily wrong to feel that way, but you can potentially be very wrong in the way you let in manifest. For instance, if you become nasty and vindictive because of it, or if you wallow in self-pity. These behaviors are not only unattractive, the only person they're really serving to hurt is you, so you're defeating yourself before you've even began.
When you're feeling envy, it can be hard to see anything else through the green haze. Whether it's over your SO's ex, someone at work getting the promotion you wanted, or a friend's holiday stalked via Instagram, jealousy can be completely enraging, and it will devour you if you let it. The thing about jealousy: It's not worth letting it get the better of you. There are some emotions I believe should be felt fully: grief, frustration, anger, joy, excitement (even if it embarrassed you or turns you into a blubbering mess or a hyperactive idiot). But jealousy is one rare emotion that I think you should constantly be working at combatting. You may never eradicate it from your feelings stable, but you can teach yourself to deal with it in a productive way, rather than letting it destroy your happiness or self-esteem. Here are a few strategies for taming this beast:
1. Talk to a friend about it
When you start to feel jealous about something, talk about it. Call your friend, mom, significant other, or whomever you feel safe talking to without judgement, and honestly talk about how you feel. Say the words: "I am jealous." Acknowledge it, and articulate exactly why it is you feel jealous. Rant and rave if you like. Be angry. Just say it out loud so you can set it free. Put it out in the air so that it's not festering inside you.
2. Stop comparing yourself to...anyone else, really.
It's harder than it sounds to stop comparing yourself to others but you really must stop doing it immediately. If there's a peer that makes you feel bad about yourself through their accomplishments, you need to evaluate what this person brings to your life. If they still enrich your life (for instance, if they're a close friend), you have to consciously tell yourself you are happy for their successes, whether personal or professional. What you'll find is that you ARE happy for them. You always were. When you care about someone, you're going to be happy when they do well. But jealously will tempt you to compare yourself, and you'll ALWAYS be found wanting because that's the nature of envy. You have to remember that other people's successes aren't personal failures for you. They're not about you. Remove yourself from the equation and stop comparing. In the scenario where you can't, and where the person involved is someone more removed (say, an industry peer you know through work or remotely via a friend of a friend), just delete them from your life. Unfollow them on social media. Take away the even the slightest temptation to compare yourself and eventually you'll just forget to. Out of sight, out of mind!
3. Focus on the things you DO have
Instead of focusing on what you don't have, focus on what you do have. Simple in theory, complicated in practice, essential to happiness. So what if someone else has got the hair/job/promotion/apartment of your dreams? You've got that favorite pair of shoes! A job you love and are good at! Great hair! The best friends! An awesome mom! The ability to bake the world's best cookies! Write a list if you have to. Look at the things you have and love and hug them either physically or with your mind if they're intangible and laugh and put your favorite song on and dance around the room because it doesn't matter what anyone else has/does/achieves—just LOOK at your amazing life!
4. Get a hobby
Sometimes you just need a solid distraction. Instead of binge Facebook stalking your S.O.'s ex and everyone they've ever known, go read a book. Ride your bike. Bake a cake. Sew. Do anything constructive. When you feel the social media stalker inside you start to raise its obsessive eyebrow, grab onto something you enjoy doing and immerse yourself in that instead. It's a much healthier, more productive way to spend your time.
5. Put your freakum dress on
It doesn't have to be a dress necessarily, but you know that thing that just makes you feel so fine when you put it on or do it? Do that. Your Power Outfit. Whenever you're starting to feel down on yourself out of envy (or anything else really), go out of your way to make yourself feel like the most special thing on earth. Bonus: the more time you spend focusing on you, the less time you'll spend worrying about other people.
6. Work harder
So you don't have all the things you want in your life? Guess who's responsible for that? YOU ARE. You want a better job? Work for it! A happier relationship? Work for it! A trip to Hawaii? Work. For. It. Instead of spending your time lamenting your wants and seething with envy over what other people have, invest yourself wholly into achieving your own goals. Stop looking outward and start looking inward, and make decisive steps towards getting the things you crave. Nothing was ever won by anyone sitting on their ass and complaining about other people.
7. Make it your business to love yourself
You know what I said above about work? The same goes for loving yourself. If you easily feel jealous, make a conscious effort every day to think of yourself as not only lovable to others, but loveable to yourself. If you have to, think about all the things about you that would make you jealous—because I promise you, someone, somewhere is trolling your Instagram right now, wishing they were you. Everyone has something that someone else wants, and the sooner you realize you can't have everything but you can have YOU, the sooner we can all agree that that's just perfect, no matter what's going on with anyone else.
8. Use it
You have the power to make your jealousy productive. Take it, and use it to stoke your fire. Whatever envy you have, take that as a cue to fight harder. You ultimately feel jealousy not because you think someone else is better than you, but because you feel like you're not good enough. That's not okay. You're more than good enough, so turn jealousy into something positive and let it be the fire that burns under your butt, forcing you to be a better you, and most importantly, to be better to yourself.