Jealousy and envy: Are they really as bad as made out to be?

Jealousy and envy are known to be negative emotions. They actually can also give some positive results. But how?

Answer these two questions for yourself:

You discover your partner has had an affair. Do you:

  1. Scream at him, and tell him he is a terrible person
  2. Tell your friends, to relieve yourself of the pressure of the hurt
  3. Regularly check his phone, emails or browser history
  4. Put your rage into your collection of resentments

You’re single, and your best friend has just met the man of her dreams. Do you:

  1. Listen to her enthuse, while sobbing inside
  2. Warn her that love can be blind
  3. Talk about the freedom of being single
  4. Say something critical of her or him

If you said, “None of the above,” I’m not sure I believe you. Jealousy and envy are painful emotions, and when we act them out, we’re trying to get some relief. Of course, none of these behaviours actually provide that relief.

We use the two words pretty much interchangeably. They are in reality two distinct emotions, each with their own spectrum of usefulness to destruction. Simply put, jealousy refers to feelings of impending loss of something you have [your partner’s love, perhaps], and envy refers to the desire for something someone else has. They are both aspects, and sometimes dysfunctions, of desire.

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This was first published in the February 2013 issue of Complete Wellbeing.

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