I was happily scrolling through Facebook the other day, catching up with family and friends. Within a nanosecond however, I went from “I wonder what's up with Judy” to “I want what Judy has!”. Like waves rushing to shore, envy was soon followed by shame (“I’m bad for wanting that”), then guilt (“I shouldn’t want what others have”), and finally anger (“Why can’t I have what she has?”). In a matter of about 3 seconds, I was consumed by jealousy and downright miserable.
You know the feeling, right? One moment you’re going along just fine, maybe driving home through the neighborhood or watching a movie. The next thing you know, a tidal wave of envy washes over you.
All of the sudden, you want that beautiful house you just passed, that front lawn, and those deck chairs. You want that vacation you just saw on TV, that loving relationship, and that successful career. Darn it, you want those jeans, too! (And maybe those arms, those legs, that face, etc.’).
Green with envy, anyone?
Though most of us have been taught that jealousy is bad and that we ought to be ashamed of ourselves for experiencing it, I've realized over the years that the feeling of jealousy itself is quite harmless. When used appropriately, jealousy can re-invigorate us and support our wildest dreams into reality. (Wanna know how? Click to continue reading).
Our solution stems from Chinese medicine, which links the color green, the season of spring, and the element of wood together. Not surprisingly, spring is characterized as a time of new growth, branching out in new directions, expanding and (re)focusing vision, and coming up with new plans, decisions, and steps. Debra Kaatz, renowned acupuncturist and author, describes spring as a period “when the warmth of the sun returns and life pushes forth with great vitality.”
Consider a brand new leaf. It's fragile, fresh, and vibrant. It's... green! It pulsates with vitality, with a desire to live.
This vibrant-green of a new sprout bursting with life and the less-adored shade of green-with-envy are really two green sides of the same… well, leaf.
Jealousy too pulsates (or throbs) with our pure and innocent desire to live. No, to thrive! This is life pushing forth with great vitality. When I want what Judy has, like a big house or beach vacation, I am not just coveting for coveting's sake. Underneath it all, I am deeply longing for what I perceive as Judy's thriving. Why? Because I want to thrive, too!
There's actually nothing evil, malicious, bad, or wrong with the feeling of jealousy itself. Perhaps everything we have been warned about when it comes to envy is due to the choices and decisions people make in reaction to it.
“It is said that in spring," Debra Kaatz adds, "the green dragon of the east blows the eight winds into the earth and brings forth a thousand flowers” (Characters of Wisdom, 163). Though I have not seen any dragons lately, it sure has been windy! We've had gusts of jealousy and anger, cranky muscles and achy bones, and a great surge of longing to grow and thrive. Yes, all of this generates a great big movement that is the beautiful blossoming of your own life.
Now, let's get practical!
As you feel yourself getting pulled by "the grass is greener on the other side," let it point you directly to your own back yard. Does it need watering? A trim? Some mulch? How about new flowers or new flower-pots? This is your opportunity to harness the raw energy of jealousy and make it work for you!
The next time jealousy arises within you, follow these steps:
Not exactly sure how to do this? Want more support? Contact me, schedule a session, or come by for a class. You are not alone.
May the pure energy of envy bring forth the most magnificent of blossomings for you,
-- Shira Oz-Sinai
What do you feel jealous of? Can you turn it around and make it work for you?
Please share your thoughts, comments, and experiences with me!
Shira Oz-Sinai is a spiritual teacher trained in iRest® Yoga Nidra meditation and Soul Lightening Acupressure®, two modalities that share the common principle of noticing what arises in awareness as the foundation to living life with ease and in deep and loving friendship with yourself. These are her musings.