by Triantafillia Memisaki
When we realize or we are told we need to control our jealousy, usually we look up ways to help us do that. But the most common trap we fall into is confusing jealousy with envy and then end up using steps meant to tackle the wrong emotion. Jealousy and envy can be easily confused with each other. In fact, most people actually use them as synonyms, thinking that they mean the exact same thing. There is a fine line between the two terms that line is very important, especially when you’re being tormented by one or both of these emotions and are trying to find a way to overcome them. Having personally fallen victim to both feelings and feeling confused by their evident similarities, I decided to get to the bottom of this.
In my quest to figure out a way to differentiate between jealousy and envy, I discovered that – as a general rule – jealousy involves the wish to keep what you already have, whereas envy involves the wish to somehow get what you don’t have. So you need to remember this:
Jealousy means you want to maintain something,
Envy means you want to obtain something.
Jealous people feel that something of value to them might be in danger of being taken away or changed in ways they don’t feel comfortable with. Envious people, on the other hand, want something they don’t have and develop feelings of contempt toward those who have it.
More specifically, when you’re jealous, you might go through:
· Fear of losing something that’s important to you
· Suspicion of or anger about a perceived betrayal
· Low self-esteem and sadness over a perceived loss
Whereas, when you’re envious, you might experience:
· Inferiority complex
· Longing and desire to possess your rival’s qualities
· Resentment of (and motivation to improve) your circumstances
· Ill-will towards an envied person
If you’re still having trouble distinguishing between the two, here are some examples. Keep in mind that there could be a million and one different examples, so don’t take it to mean just because your specific situation isn’t listed below you don’t belong in that category.
· You’re afraid your partner might leave you for another person so you don’t trust them when they are with members of the opposite sex
· You’re afraid your parents think more highly of your sibling because they did certain things better than you
· You’re constantly suspicious that your partner has cheated on you and is hiding it and you attack them about it, even though you have no proof
· You don’t feel 100% sure that your partner will be loyal to you or loves you with all their heart
· You feel that you aren’t as good as the object of your envy in a particular field (or indeed in any field at all)
· You constantly feel the desire to be as good as or even better than the person you envy in their field of expertise
· You hate the way your life is and wish it could be more like someone else’s life
· You want that person you envy to be unlucky in some way. You want something bad to happen to them so that their life isn’t so perfect any more.
Try to concentrate on the situation that wakes up that little green monster inside you (yes, both jealousy and envy are little green monsters). You need to be certain which one of the two you are experiencing before you can start tackling it. Otherwise, it’ll be like trying to heal heartburn with cough syrup.
If you want specific advice on what to do to overcome envy or jealousy in particular, I put together two videos that might help you. Both are comprised of the techniques I used to eliminate my own jealousy and envy, so I can personally guarantee they’ve been successfully tested.
“How to Overcome Envy”:
“How to Get Over Jealousy”:
Distinguishing the experiences of envy and jealousy (Parrott & Smith)
The emotional experiences of envy and jealousy (Salovey)
Envy and jealousy: Semantic problems and experiential distinctions (Smith, Kim & Parrott)
Envy and Jealousy: Self and Society (Salovey & Rothman)
About Triantafillia Memisaki:
Triantafillia Memisaki is a freelance writer, artist and science fiction author, with a major in Preschool Education and Educational Design. She currently lives in Rhodes, Greece and writes bimonthly articles and interviews for the online publication The ReVista. She also creates educational video content (How-To videos, tutorials, miscellaneous advice upon request) on YouTube under the username “bukroot”, does custom pencil portrait drawings and murals by commission, and has drawn a number of scientific illustrations for Greek and Swedish marine biologists’ research papers. Her interests include photography, video-editing, story-writing and drawing to name just a few.”