How to transform your jealousy and turn it into inspiration and motivation to create your best life

Since the post on how to stop comparing yourself to others came out, I have received a lot of comments and had a lot of conversations about this topic – how and why do we compare ourselves to others. Women were asking some great questions – the big one that stuck with me was, “is it always bad to compare yourself to others? What if jealousy is telling us something deeper and masking that jealousy is a lost opportunity?”

This got me thinking and then researching.

We often think of jealousy as this terrible emotion we need to get rid of. But I believe all emotions have value – there are no “bad” emotions. What we do with those emotions might be good or bad, but the emotion itself isn’t bad. Instead of thinking of emotions as good and bad, there’s research to show that thinking of emotions as “comfortable” and “uncomfortable” is much more helpful.

Jealousy for most people is an uncomfortable emotion.

Let me give you some examples. Recently, I have found myself jealous of other friends and colleagues related to two topics. 

First, I have a couple of friends and colleagues who are really good at calling other people out – Beth is one of those people. They hold people accountable, and they don’t put up with other peoples’ shit. I have thought more than once, especially recently, that I am jealous of the ways in which other people respond to them when they call people out – not getting upset, but respecting their ideas. 

In the second situation, I was talking to a mom friend (well our kids are friends and we are getting to know each other). I asked about summer camps and she said, “my husband takes care of that stuff, you should text him.”

I’ve left these situations feeling jealous, then thinking that I shouldn’t be jealous, feeling guilty about my jealousy, and wishing I could release my jealousy. On the one hand that’s true, I think there are lots of ways in which we compare ourselves unnecessarily to the idea of what someone else is, that is only detrimental to ourselves

But what if this jealousy is really telling you something about what you want out of life? 

How can you transform your jealousy into inspiration and motivation?

how can you transform your jealousy and turn it into inspiration and motivation

Step 1. Acknowledge that you feel jealous 

I am a big believer in labeling and naming your feelings. If you feel jealousy, call yourself out on it. Jealousy is a natural emotion, we all feel it sometime. So when you feel jealous, stop yourself, and recognize that that feeling is jealousy. If we look at our emotions as communicators, if shifts us toward curiosity rather than shame.

Step 2. Support other women – tell these incredible, strong, amazing women how awesome they are

Unfortunately, not only do we have to overcome some of the gender biases that exist in the workforce and at home, but women are not always great at supporting other women. We are not always great at pointing out what other women are good at, we are not always great at supporting and inspiring and pushing other women. And sometimes we’re even mean and put others down. If you are feeling jealous of someone else, it means that they are probably doing something really well. Why not tell them? Wouldn’t you want someone to tell you what they admired about your life? 

What would it take for you to walk up to that friend or colleague, or even stranger, and tell them that you love the way they handled that situation or you were so impressed with their dedication by learning to run and now completing in a marathon. 

If you’re hesitating to speak up, just think about how nice it would be to hear the same thing about your life? We all need to start somewhere, so let’s start paying it forward and telling other women what we admire about them and their lives. 

Step 3. Go deep, get ready for personal growth, and figure out the true source your jealousy 

Now that you know you’re jealous, and have shared and elevated another woman, now it’s time for the hard stuff – figuring out what really made you jealous. It might be something fairly obvious or it might be something deeper that will take a little longer to understand. Either way, don’t be discouraged – you are taking this to a whole new level just by thinking about these root causes. 

For me in my second example, where I’m jealous of a girlfriend who has a husband who is planning summer vacations, this is not something crazy and deep, this is pretty obvious. In my house, I’m in charge of pretty much everything to do with organizing. That means I plan our summer activities, camps, vacations, days off, sports, playdates, meals...  on some level I enjoy doing this, but it is a lot of work, this is carrying that huge mental load. And it is exhausting and sometimes challenges my work-life balance. Sometimes I wish that my husband could take it over. But I know that planning and organizing are not his strengths. 

In the situation where I’m jealous of these strong women and how other people respond and respect them when they call people out, well this one goes a bit deeper. Part of my approach to being a manager, a friend, a wife, and a mom, has been to be extremely supportive. I try to find the positive in almost every situation, I highlight people strengths, I try to build them up and inspire and motivate them. I rarely call people out. As a result, I’m not very confident in doing it, I don’t think I’m very competent at doing it, and so I do it very rarely.

Recently though, I have really valued people who have called me out – they have done this on so many levels, challenging me when I’m stuck in my thinking, making me stop and appreciate how far I’ve come, questioning my perfectionism and the unreasonable expectations I set for myself. I can see how important that is for my own personal growth and development. I wish that I was more like that. But I am scared to change, part of my identity is being tied with being an inspiration and a motivator, not being a challenger. 

I can also see the irony that when they call me out it motivates and inspires me, so I should be adding this to my toolbox of motivation and inspiration.

What are you really jealous off? Are you actually jealous of the promotion they are girlfriend got? Is that really what you want? Or do you admire her dedication to work, and wish you could be more devoted and focused on building your career? 

what is the source of your jealousy and can you turn it into a life goal

Step 4. Is this a goal? And what actions have you been taking to achieve your goals? 

Once you go deep and figure out what you were really jealous of, then you need to ask yourself whether you have made this idea a goal in your life? It’s time to figure out whether you have been taking actions towards achieving that goal.

A perfect example of this is the mom who is jealous of her girlfriend who has lost all of her baby weight, looks fabulous, and has an amazing exercise routine. I think we’ve all been jealous of this at some point in time. I don’t even think this jealousy is super deep – I think it’s telling us we wish we had lost the baby weight

But the question is: have you made losing weight a goal and a priority for you? Are you taking actions, for example eating well and exercising regularly, to achieve your weight-loss goals?

As I did my research and learned more and more about jealousy, I realized I was not actively working on building my skills at calling people out, and then practicing those skills on a regular basis. I’ve realized that I want to be that kind of person. I want to be able to say the things out loud that I am thinking in my head. I want to say them in a very nice and supportive way, but I want to be able to say them. At the moment, I have been doing absolutely nothing to work towards that goal. So when I am jealous, it’s because I wish I was like that. I’m not doing anything to become like that. And that’s on me. 

It’s almost the exact same situation for the summer camp planning. Years ago I took on all of the responsibility for organizing and planning in our household. At the time it was a good idea. Now, that workload seems very large, and I’ve never stopped and stepped back and asked for help. I might be frustrated, and rightfully so, but how can I possibly expect change if I don’t ask for what I want?

I thought hard about it, and I am still going to plan summer camps. But, I have handed over a pile of organizing and paperwork stuff that my husband can do (driver’s license renewals, a new sticker for my license plate, and filing our passport forms). These are things I would have always taken on, all by myself, and now I can delegate and ease my mental load, even a little bit.

Step 5. Make a plan. 

If this is a goal and this is something you want to work towards, then make a plan. What do you need in order to move forward? Do you need more knowledge or skills? Do you need support from other people? Do you need time to practice? Are you motivated? Figure out what you need, and make a plan. 

Don’t let jealousy drag you down, use it as your inspiration to create the life you want. Are you ready to transform your jealousy? This is not easy, but think of how amazing it would be if you could start achieving the things you want, and elevating other women in the process. 

Step 1. Acknowledge that you feel jealous 

Step 2. Support other women – tell these incredible, strong, amazing women how awesome they are

Step 3. Go deep, get ready for personal growth, and figure out the true source your jealousy 

Step 4. Is this a goal? And what actions have you been taking to achieve your goals? 

Step 5. Make a plan. 

What are you jealous of? And what are you going to do about it? Add a comment to inspire other women to share their jealousy stories.

Good luck!

Julia