I think that there are two kinds of jealousy. There is the kind that causes you to react. This is the jealousy that was illustrated in last Monday night’s episode of How I Met Your Mother. It’s a fearful jealousy that comes out of a belief that you are going to lose something. It often causes you to behave detrimentally. In that episode of my favorite sitcom, Jenkins tells Lilly that she has kissed Marshall and is very sorry. Lilly reacts with a jealous rage and clobbers her. This kind of jealousy (as illustrated) fuels revenge and rage and keeps you completely tuned out from your true self.
But there is another kind of jealousy that causes you to connect with your true self and take action (or at least plant the seeds for action). I have to thank my friend Kelly for inspiring this post. I decided to write it after a conversation I had with her a couple of weeks ago. About four and a half years ago I was at a playgroup. At the time Bella was still in diapers, still nursing and I was pregnant with Callee. I was totally and completely in the Mommy Zone. I would get together a few times a week with my friends and their babies and we would talk about motherhood. During this particular playdate we were discussing how many kids we all wanted to have. At the time I wanted three, maybe four. One of the moms in the group said “Well, if I could write a best seller than I would definitely have four children.” I got so jealous when she said this, but not because she wanted four kids but because she mentioned writing a book. All of a sudden, I remembered how much I had loved writing and I was jealous. I believe that that was the moment where the writer in me woke up and the seed was planted. It didn’t happen right away but obviously over the next few years I started writing again. It is yet to be determined as to whether or not I will crank out a best-seller. (I have had several moments of jealousy while reading or thinking about Stephenie Meyer.)
The conclusion Kelly came to during our conversation is that if you get jealous of something someone else is doing, maybe it is because you are meant to do it too. These days, every once in a while I’ll find myself feeling envious while reading a blog. I have attracted into my life so many charismatic and talented writers that I can’t help but be in awe at the response they illicit from their readers. Before I talked with Kelly about the topic of jealousy, I’d give myself a hard time for feeling the way I felt. Now I realize that it is a seed to inspire me to take action, practice, and improve my abilities.
The next time you find yourself feeling envious, first figure out which kind of jealousy you’re feeling. Is it the kind that makes you angry? Is it the kind that makes you want to react (in a not so positive manner)? OR is it the kind that makes you excited and inspired? Does it make you want to act in a manner that will improve your standing in the world? Start paying attention to these feelings and asking the questions. It may just guide you toward a new hobby, talent, or career!