Jealous? 7 Ways Jealousy Can Make You a Better Person

A few ways to use jealousy as a catalyst for life-altering changes.

Zight | December 07, 2017 | 6 min read time

Article Last Updated: July 22, 2023

Jealous? 7 Ways Jealousy Can Make You a Better Person

Green with envy?

Before you beat yourself up for feeling jealous and try to squash the emotion, everything you know about jealousy is wrong. Feeling it doesn’t make you a bad person and while some people say acting on jealousy is a no-go, the truth is, it depends how you act on it.

Some of life’s most powerful emotions like jealousy and anger get a bad rap, but in actuality can be incredibly powerful catalysts for positive change in your life when used correctly.

So while you might be seeing green (or red) here are a few killer ways to use jealousy as a positive influence in your life and a catalyst for big, exciting, and life-altering changes.


What Actually is Jealousy?

There’s some confusion about what jealousy actually is. The difference between envy and jealousy is that envy is when you want something someone else has, and jealousy is when there’s something you want that someone else might be taking away from you. For example, envy is you wishing you were going on a trip to Vegas instead of your roommate – jealousy is disdain for your roommate’s friend who’s taking her away on a trip to Vegas. Envy involves just you and one other person – jealousy involves a third party.

Jealousy is usually thought of as nasty daytime soap opera stuff, but it can be channeled for good.


Get More of What You Want

If anything, jealousy is a scarily accurate internal barometer that points you towards what you want. Most people aren’t clear about what they really want, what they’re working towards or have any kind of real goal-setting (and reaching) practice. The reason? Most people have never paid attention long enough to get really specific about their desires and instead live life on autopilot.

If you’ve been busy living by default and you suddenly get a pang of jealousy about another person’s life, career, ambitions, personal achievement – it’s an important sign for you to pay close attention.

Any Law of Attraction fans out there? It’s something a lot of people brush off as pure woo-woo, but the new age philosophy is actually just a combo of cognitive reframing and creative visualization techniques. Followers are encouraged to get super specific about what it is they want, so that the “universe” (or their daily actions fueled by a consistent mental drive – take your pick) can deliver it. Jealousy just helps you figure out exactly what it is you want.


Challenge Your Assumptions

According to experts, the old saying about assumptions is true. Dr Marcia Sirota is a Board-certified Psychiatrist and wellness guru, who says, “When making assumptions becomes a habit, we are less and less grounded in reality and more and more prone to creating problems for ourselves and others.”

And who needs more problems? Every time you feel jealous it’s an opportunity to ask what’s really going on here and get a little smarter about accepting the things we see at face value. By digging deeper you challenge what you stubbornly think you know, and learn more about yourself, situations and others.


Become a Better Communicator

Communication is the most important skill you can hone, and not just with other people, but with yourself. Just like a lot of people have a hard time speaking directly and addressing the issues head on with others, the same is true for self-communication. And once you’re a better communicator with yourself, you’ll have an easier time articulating your needs, wants and concerns with others.

In other words, jealousy can help you identify issues you may be sweeping under the rug. When you feel that familiar tinge, ask yourself what’s really going on? Is there an issue you need to speak up about? Do you need to dig just a little deeper into why you’re feeling the way you do? Challenge yourself to be a more direct communicator, watch your situations improve and the jealousy disappear.


Up Your Game

Are you really mad at your coworker for getting the promotion you wanted? Or are you mad at yourself? Jealousy gives us a great opportunity to take a hard (but potentially profitable) look at ourselves and our daily actions. Are we slacking just a little bit? Do we know we could be performing better than we have been? Where are we dropping the ball (but not acknowledging it). Jealousy can help us discover how to be those peak performers we’re envious of.


Get to Know When You Need a Time Out

If you’re a parent, you probably know that when your kid’s super angry she probably needs a nap – but do you know when you need a little time out yourself?

It might sound a little out there, but self-parenting is a legit framework for cooling the voices in your head and developing a healthier (and way more productive!) lifestyle. It’s even used in AA meetings to stay on track, and by creatives like Fiona Apple, to give yourself a kick in the butt when you haven’t put a record out in ages.

When you’re feeling jealous, sometimes all that’s needed is a true-blue timeout. When we’re overtired, it’s difficult to see the possibilities. When we can’t see the possibilities it’s easy to become envious of others that we perceive to have it “easier.”

If this sounds like you, step away from the computer. Stop overworking and give yourself a break to unplug.

Using jealousy to put yourself into time-out, will help you take better care of yourself and get more of what you want in the long run.


Know What You Have (that they don’t)

This will probably sound snarky after all that peace, love and self-parenting talk, but honestly, get real. You have a TON of skills, qualities, and attributes that nobody else has. So why be jealous? Maybe it’s time to take a little inventory of how lucky you are, what you’re phenomenally good at, what sets you apart from the rest. A little “attitude of gratitude” anyone? Write it down, talk it out, get to know those things about yourself and you’ll build up some major resilience for the next time the green monster comes calling.


Forgive Yourself

Remember Cain and Abel? Whether you’ve checked out the Old Testament recently or not, here’s one thing we know for sure: Jealousy is anything but new. As a natural human emotion you can’t escape, stuffing it down, ignoring it) is a missed opportunity to enhance your life and learn from the message the jealousy is trying to get across.

Beating yourself up for feeling jealous or wallowing in regret is bad for your brain (and productivity). Practice letting yourself off the hook quickly, while paying attention to your emotions and watch your success skyrocket.

Next time you start feeling jealous, stop and think about what’s driving that emotion, and actually do something about what you discover!

You’ll find that when used appropriately (and without hurting other people) that jealousy is a powerful motivator and can help you keep the goals you want front and center, instead of getting lost in everyday life.

We’d love to hear how you’ve used jealousy in the past to live a more fulfilling, productive life! Let us know in the comments below!

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