At a house-warming party attended by a couple, the husband gets busy talking to his beautiful and stylish hostess friend. Jokes and conversations are flowing between the duo, admiringly. And someone spots the wife staring from the corner with her ‘green eyes’.
What did just happen? Well, for the wife, the conflict began!
Arising spontaneously, is jealousy always natural? Are humans conscious when jealousy creeps in? Is jealousy justified psychologically? Is it something which can be controlled?
We often hear the term ‘jealousy’ in our regular conversations and experience it in our lives more commonly than we would like to admit. A person who denies being jealous ever is probably not being true to himself. Although jealousy is profoundly observed in the romantic relationships, it is evenly scattered all over. The magnitude and intensity of this “green-eyed monster” differs for different persons in different situations. Inherently introvert, jealousy is born and dealt with internally. Neither its occurrence is admitted nor is it widely discussed. While dislike, envy, unhappiness and hatred may be construed as its probable synonyms, jealousy is not exhaustive in nature. It is wickedly inclusive and produces diverse emotions which are unpleasant, unfriendly and unfavorable.
Jealousy is a negative state in which the former (the jealous individual) conjures a bad feeling against the latter (the rival / imaginary rival). It is born upon realization of enrichment of the latter, in whatever form, be it relationship, money, fame, success, status or personality. The enrichment may be either actual or potential. Jealousy is often preceded by ‘comparison with the self’. Rebuffing peace and composure, this negative emotion is a bullet, triggered from the human gun, without any thought. The resulting outcome is the release of a toxic vibration in the air and the soul of the bearer of this feeling himself.
Let us expound the reasons for the arousal of this human nature, its gigantic sphere and the possible recourses to fade its raging effect.
Where does jealousy actually thrive?
1) Low self-esteem; 2) Possessiveness; 3) Attachment; 4) Greed; 5) Inferiority Complex; 6) Fear; 7) Insufficiency; 8) Competition; 9) Affection; 10) Insecurity; 11) Absence/Parting of ownerships and long-held possessions; 12) Loneliness; 13) Over-Dependence.
Clearly, a not-so-good-looking girl having inferiority issues is secretly jealous of the glowing skin of her friend. Even after many years of break up, a possessive ex-boyfriend is envious of the guy who is currently dating his ex-girlfriend. An elder brother is uncomfortable with the growing love and affection offered to the youngest kid in the family. Even best of friends attire a fake smile upon noticing that latest Mac on your lap. Agreeably, many peers in the corporates are annoyed of that favorite employee, capable of winning heart of the boss, besides revenue.
In the above stated scenarios, the friend did not just witness the MacBook as a single activity. It also started a chain reaction in his mind. A reaction involving quick calculation, analysis and judgment. On the other hand, in the case of the elder brother, the affection towards his parents had transformed into an attachment. An attachment, wanting an unwavering parental attention. No wonder, this clinging is too mean and alien to identify any blood relation.
In jealousy, there is an absence of the ability of the former to adapt and accept that the latter has achieved more than what is available with the former. The object of enrichment by the latter poses a threat and fear of loss to the former. Many doubtful thoughts, uncontrollably start pouring in the mind of the former, including ‘People will respect me less now’, ‘I will lose this place hereafter’, ‘The latter will get all the appreciation’, ‘May be, I am not that important’! The pattern of thoughts reveal that the fear has succeeded in finding a place inside. And…. the fear dwells!
Now, let us understand this human ‘fear’, a strong acid culminating into jealousy. As seen, much prior to the birth of jealousy, fear sets a strong base for insecurity and instability within. In such a scenario, even though the actual act of acquisition or enrichment by the latter may not have taken place, yet, the fear of its materialization erects a wall of insecurity inside. Carrying an immense potential, this vicious fear entraps three broad spheres of the human surroundings – 1) Relationships; 2) Career; and 3) Money. At every step, this fear poses innumerable threats, including i) Losing the proximity in any close relationship; ii) Separation; iii) Abandonment; iv) Sharing of reputable status; v) Rise in the respect and status of the rival; vi) Deprivation; vii) Rejection; viii) Lacunae; etc. Such threats absorb the mind so tightly that the resulting behavior starts to confine the nervous system and mechanically tunes the brain to stage into red jealousy.
Interestingly, varied origins of the emotion of jealousy can be traced to two seemingly contrasting ideas: 1) ‘Yearning’; and 2) ‘Exclusivity’. In the first one, the feeling emerges for want of things which the desirous (the jealous individual) yearns to attain for himself (not in his possession yet) and instead sees it attained by the other. The other form of jealousy (the absolute selfish form) is a desire for ownership and possessiveness, exclusively. In this case, the object of jealousy is already in the possession of the former and enjoyed by him. Despite that, the thought of enrichment by the latter, generates an insecurity and nervousness in the former. The fear of losing the exclusivity of the object runs so high that it dismisses the acknowledgement or gratitude of the things already in possession.
An Emotional Ride –
Is the sensation similar to that of burn? Since jealousy is a worldwide affair, it has its own unique narrative. Is the feeling consuming? Do you feel miserable? With every threat, (actual or potential), there is a growing distress and uneasiness in the mind. This uneasiness further enhances in the form of anger, anxiety, frustration and conflict. The soul is arrested by thoughts of being ‘unwanted’ ‘unloved’ and ‘unimportant’.
The latter may be an exceptional performer, an attractive person, a remarkable speaker, a brilliant lawyer or a creative author. However, ignorantly, in jealousy, the latter is only viewed as an ‘eraser’ of the identity, a ‘quake’ to the position and a ‘peril’ for the existence of the former. This sentiment is very self-centered and involves deepest negative forces and reactions of a person coupled with greed and abrupt rejections. The feeling of jealousy does not encompass logic or rationale on ‘suitable’ or ‘rightful’ enrichment. The formers’ self-comparison and fear is elevated so enormously that it neglects the legitimacy and entitlement of the latter. All the righteous analysis gets blown away in that spur-of-the moment, uprightly.
Should jealousy be out rightly condemned?
Jealousy is a universal phenomenon – hidden and reclusive. Considering the fact that human beings are innately selfish, is jealousy justified psychologically?
The answer is relatively positive.
Undeniably, the core reason of jealousy is the fear of loss (actual or anticipated). It is also non-debatable that the human need ‘to love’ and ‘be loved’ is insatiably high. The need for this emotional fulfilment is extremely powerful. Harnessing this human need, in our own little worlds, we all have our tags and strings. Collectively, they become our ‘happy spaces’. Numerous intrinsic necessities like a) Winning the affection, b) seeking attention of the important ones, c) experiencing ever increasing love, d) gaining respect, e) multiplying the financial growth, f) bagging the fame; both personally and professionally, are very tenacious and too adamant to take a back seat. These acquisitions go a long way in soothing, energizing and increasing the volume of ‘human contentment’, on the soap opera titled ‘Me and My’. The fulfilment of these intrinsic necessities, on a continuing basis, paves the way for a great emotional comfort and security within us. This self-perceived emotional comfort and security is the foundation on which we base our ‘mental status’ or ‘sense of self-worth’. And, when this status or sense of self-worth is disturbed even minutely, our emotions tend to rebel. Any dejection or dismissal is considered as averse. Any replacement is like a proposed battle. A battle to restore the mental status to its original comforting level.
I would prefer to call this emotion of jealousy, a ‘natural’ and ‘instantaneous’ feeling, which comes to the fore, in the spur-of-moment, backed by the human need to perpetually maintain the level of mental status. Given this insight, jealousy is hugely understandable and to an extent, even justifiable.
We have seen that the spark of jealousy is instantaneous and pops-in from the turbulence created in the mental faculties after an emotional ride within. However, notwithstanding the justification for its impulse, jealousy is morally unethical and inappropriate human conduct. Jealousy is forbidden by the laws of life because it is essentially destructive. It is an innate feeling, only the occurrence of which cannot be controlled. However, justification of the arousal, at the mental (emotional) level is not a permission for humans to justify the possession of this trait. Any action by an individual leading to the subsistence of this emotion is ethically inappropriate and unwelcomed. As such, pursuing any physical or mental aggression or vengeance in furtherance to such emotion would be construed as ‘intentional’ and ought to be labelled as liable.
As a matter of fact, every individual should strive to snip this ailment out. And there is a huge responsibility of self-awareness which lies with every individual. And self-awareness primarily demands honesty. The combination of honesty and self-awareness, in turn, would generate the mindfulness, the ability to be aware of and even accept your negative emotions. Once this awareness is created in the mind, it brings us to the question, if jealousy can be cured. Unfortunately, no curriculum in our rich education provides for the consequences of attachment and redressal of this grave human trait.
Recall that the feeling of jealousy is an innate human response to disturbance in perceived mental status or sense of self-worth. Going by this analogy, it is clear that this feeling is born at the precise moment in time when your mental status or sense of self-worth becomes legible and perceivably inferior to that of the other person.
Are we permitting these self-created images, beliefs and assumptions to overpower us and control us? The idea of comparing our self-worth with the standing and enrichment of others is so disgraceful. The exhibition of jealousy in our behavior dictates that there is no comfort in our own being. Our self. Our unique self, which admittedly, has its own strengths and weaknesses. Losing this sense of ‘self’, we simply run to occupy the place of the other with a blind desire to be in that place, only assuming that it is more comfortable and enjoyable. Alas!
Although jealousy may have its own darker shades, but one cannot rule out its advantage to be used as a tool for self-reflection. Jealousy displays a mirror to our true self. It actually tells us what we really want and shows us the deep subconscious foundations on which we have built our mental status or sense of self-worth.
Reaction with a greater emotional distress is not the solution!
Though jealousy is not a positive characteristic, it would be incorrect to term it as an ugly emotion worthy of hatred solely. It is a matter of realization that humans can gain a lot from opening up to their full range of emotions. Sometimes, negative emotions can drive towards greater achievements. By embracing and harnessing all of the different emotions, thoughts, and behaviors, human beings become maximally effective in navigating their daily challenges. The German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche aptly quotes, “The great epochs of our life are the occasions when we gain the courage to re-baptize our evil qualities as our best qualities”.
One needs to reflect honestly if they love themselves. If a person loves his own self more than anything else, the possessiveness and fear of separation would cease to haunt. Agreeably, we all have had a life time of emotions and feelings with our set of people and belongings. It is unreal to expect detachment in just a few hours or months. In such situations, awareness and observation is the key. Allow the skin of your flaw to unveil itself, while you comfortably notice it. Slowly, it will weaken the emotion, to the verge of making it powerless.
Lending an ear to the deep echoes is need of the hour. If anyone did, he would understand what ‘jealousy’ says. Jealousy (zeal: lousy) itself widely announces that it is absolutely lousy to pursue any zeal of attachment. The zeal revolving around ‘Me and My’.