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3 Subtle Ways to Tell the Difference Between Envy and Jealousy

Difference Between Envy and Jealousy

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3 Subtle Ways To Tell The Difference Between Envy And Jealousy

What is the Difference between Envy and Jealousy?

We feel envy when we begin to become a preoccupied over another person’s life experience. 

For example, wishing something better for ourselves because we see someone else has that thing – and that ‘thing’ will be missing from our own life. 

A status symbol, an accolade or recognition, a better financial position, a certain skill or trait, a fitter body, better possessions or improved relationships.

Envy is an emotion, which is triggered by a person, an event, an experience or a conversation. It may not necessarily be a negative feeling; it can also be a motivator. 

It becomes negative when it turns into jealousy. 

Envy is a feeling that arises within a person because they feel that they are not performing as well as they should, or that they deserve better. It can give us an indication of the levels of self-esteem that the person holds. 

Envy is rarely factual or intellectual, so we can learn to apply fact and logic to it, which helps us manage it better and can even motivate us towards obtaining the very ‘thing’ we are envious of for ourselves.

Envy will turn into jealously if we do not take control of it quickly by addressing our own levels of self esteem.

3 Subtle Ways To Tell The Difference Between Envy And Jealousy

How Common is the Feeling of Envy or Jealousy?

It seems to be a common feeling, because we, as human beings are creatures of comparison. 

We naturally assess how we are doing in certain areas of our life by checking out other people’s lives and making subconscious decisions about whether we are on the right track or not. 

When we have high levels of self esteem, we are less likely to compare ourselves to others. However, when our self esteem drops, we are more likely to compare ourselves to others.

Social media and the rise of the social broadcasting of merit, award, accolade and achievement with a leaning towards inflation of the credits in our lives certainly gives envy a better platform to thrive on! 

People who are more likely to seek approval from external sources rather than cultivate internal self-approval are much more likely to suffer with envy. 

I don’t necessarily think it’s more of a women vs men issue, I feel it’s balanced, but perhaps the differences lie in how it manifests and in some cases, men and women – it can get out of control if not addressed.

3 Subtle Ways To Tell The Difference Between Envy And Jealousy

Is Jealousy a Sign of Poor Mental Health?

Being overly envious becomes jealousy. 

But, by taking a look in the self awareness mirror, and seeing our thoughts differently can really help.

If we are not self aware enough to notice envy, our envious thoughts may lead to feelings of jealousy.

Jealousy is a destructive emotion, and can have harmful effects on our mental health and emotional wellbeing if left unattended in our system. 

Jealousy can easily lead to anger, and eventually obsessive tendencies and paranoia. 

I mentioned that a little bit of envy, now and again, can be a motivator – like a nudge to get on with something that we have been procrastinating over, or to finish a task or complete a project. 

It can be a driver to help us move forwards and can be a useful push for us to gain momentum with our life.

3 Subtle Ways To Tell The Difference Between Envy And Jealousy

Can Envy Be Healthy?

Yes, because envy can help us move forward to gain confidence – it is a feeling of admiration mixed with hope for oneself after all. 

It can often be the prod that we need or as I’ve said before, the motivator to help us move through a block. 

Envy is the subconscious mind getting our conscious attention to behave differently, or to take action. 

If we feel that someone else did or achieved the thing we were meant to be doing and achieving, and they got all the credit for it, then this can make us do that thing as well. 

If we feel envy around someone else’s looks, we may feel as if we need to make more effort in that department. 

If we feel envious of the attention someone else gets, then we may decide that we emulate them. 

Envy can help us to aspire for more for ourselves and recognise that we deserve better.

3 Subtle Ways To Tell The Difference Between Envy And Jealousy

How Can We Reframe Jealousy or Envy into a Positive?

We can reframe envy by noticing it as a subconscious trigger, and think about whether there may be a pattern to the feeling. 

For example, do we feel it every time we encounter a specific person, or are faced with a certain situation. 

If there is a pattern, this can reveal some useful information about the inner work we can do to channel the feeling into a more positive direction. 

We can ask ourselves factual questions. Because envy is an emotional reaction triggered by an external factor, when we apply logic to it, it can be a useful indicator of something in our own psyche that could do with a little bit of healing or solving. 

I feel that when envy is reframed and channelled well, it can help us become better people.

3 Subtle Ways To Tell The Difference Between Envy And Jealousy

What Are The Signs To Look For Before it Becomes Harmful?

The difference between envy and jealousy is very subtle at the beginning, but then the signs can become obvious.

It’s easy to fall down the slippery slope of envy into jealousy.

 Jealousy has a malicious and damaging quality to it. 

Where we lose the admiration part of envy and we fall into the trap of victimhood and martyrdom. 

Jealously is completely irrational and can easily lead to obsessional thinking and harmful and negative thoughts surrounding people or situations. 

It results in anger and intolerance and can be exceedingly harmful to the mind. It robs us of peace and joy and contorts our belief systems and our self-belief. 

Jealousy has the power to ruin relationships with other people as well as ourselves.

3 Subtle Ways To Tell The Difference Between Envy And Jealousy

3 Helpful Questions to Ask Yourself to Get Control of Envy and Jealousy

Self-Awareness is key. 

Once a person can identify the feeling such as envy within them, they can use this process of self enquiry. 

Asking these questions of oneself can be a very good way to learn about your own ways of thinking and feeling and then you will be able to take control of the feeling, rather than the feeling taking control over you. 

The question to ask is “What is this feeling of envy revealing to me?” followed by “What can I learn from this revelation?” and then “How can I move forward productively from here?” 

It’s important to be able to sit with these questions and be aware what comes up.

These personal insights will be part of your own personal reframe to help envy transform into a helpful feeling.

Then, these envious feelings can be managed successfully and can often be turned into productivity and empowerment.

3 Subtle Ways To Tell The Difference Between Envy And Jealousy

Dipti Tait is a Behaviour Psychotherapist and Solution Focused Hypnotherapist.

Dipti trained at the Clifton Practice in Bristol in 2012 with the founder of Solution Focused Hypnotherapy – David Newton and has been awarded the gold standard of Hypnotherapy and Psychotherapy with a DHP and HPD.

Since then Dipti has trained with Adam Eason, Linguistic Master James Tripp, NLP Experts Ian McDermott, Robert Dilts and Tim Hallbom.

Dipti is the Author of Good Grief (2016) and her second book Planet Grief was published by Flint Books in Oct 2021.

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