Dr. Elwood Watson believes it’s essential that we learn to control and limit our jealousy or else we’ll become a victim of it.
A few weeks ago, I contacted an acquaintance (yes acquaintance, not a close, personal friend ) with whom I had not spoken in quite a while. I was hoping that he would be able to confirm a question for me as it related to the death of a person we both casually knew. While the conversation was fairly brief, the acquaintance in question dropped a mild bombshell (okay, is that an oxymoron?) on me. Slightly after seven minutes into the conversation, he made the revelation that he had been resentful of the fact that I was able to achieve my goal of being a college professor while he was not able to do so. In fact, he went even further and declared that he had developed a strong dislike toward me for several years, that it took him a long time to come to grips with his feelings but that he was finally able to overcome his hostility and resentment and was able to move on within the last year.
Upon this revelation, I told him that I was somewhat surprised by his comments. That being said, I also made it clear to him that I appreciated him for his blunt candor as opposed to keeping his feelings to himself and reveling in a perverse form of disingenuous hypocrisy. Without going into too many other details, suffice it to say that we both were very candid, yet professional in how we responded to one another. Admittedly, he conceded that the conversation was somewhat cathartic for him. I responded that it was a healthy exchange for me as well. Once the conversation concluded, we wished one another well.
While the discussion exposed and resolved a lot of issues, I would be less than honest if I said that we would continue to correspond with one another on a regular basis. In fact, in the almost 20 years that we have known one another, our interactions have often been sporadic at best. Nonetheless, I was glad for the opportunity to have this conversation. It was beneficial on several levels.
This experience made me contemplate how many other men have had harbored feelings of jealously toward other men. I can honestly state that I have never harbored intense feelings of envy toward others. Jealousy is just not part of my psychological makeup. Quite frankly, I am grateful that it is not.
There are/have been numerous studies conducted by many therapists, psychologists, psychoanalysts etc… which have made it clear that jealously is one of the most self damaging traits a person can internalize. It is perhaps the most deadly of the seven sins and can cause much heartache throughout life. It is BAD stuff. Period. We have seen the vice (jealously) manifest itself in varied ways:
- The diminutive,petite guy who is resentful of the genetically well built jock.
- The guy who is making minimum wage and harboring deep seeded envy toward his more financially successful six figure counterpart.
The average or wallflower male students who dislike their more successful well rounded male brethren.
- The misfit brother or male cousin who is angry at their more accomplished and better adjusted brother(s) or male relatives.
- The guy who has had little, if any luck in the romance department, seething with rage toward the men who seem to find love or companionship seemingly effortlessly.
If you are a man who is prone to suffering from jealously, consider doing the following:
*Recognize your jealousy: The first thing to do with any problem is to acknowledge the fact that you have a problem and confront it. Living in denial only makes the situation worse.
*Keep an open mind: Realize that all of us as human beings have personal flaws. None of us are perfect and we are all vulnerable to imperfections. Look inward to your strengths and work to cultivate them as opposed to focusing on your shortcomings and insecurities.
*Discard the competitive mindset: While no one who is honest with themselves can deny that life can be a competition, the fact is there are going to be people who achieve more in life than you and people who will not. The point is not to dwell on what others have or have not accomplished, but rather decide what path is best for you and will bring you happiness.
*Learn to let go and move on: It can be profoundly disappointing to lose out on that ideal dream job, that to die for promotion, that dream house or condo, convertible or whatever item was the apple of your eye. However, once it is over, that’s it. None of us are going to get every thing we want in life. It is better to make sure that you reflect on what you can do (in a positive manner) to improve your odds the next time around.
*Learn from your jealousy: It is important for you to move forward and develop a sense of self worth and peace of mind. Once you come to the realization that reveling in envy and resentment will do little to advance your current situation, but finding and cultivating your strengths will make you content, you will hopefully proceed accordingly.
There is no doubt that societal pressures and expectations often contribute to the intense level of competition and envy among men. Male jealousy is probably far more commonplace than is generally discussed. It is more that just the jealous boyfriend or husband who is envious of his wife or partner’s friends or other relationships. It is a vice that crosses sexual orientations – gay, straight, bisexual, asexual, transgender etc… – Such feelings can go much deeper and can be very insidious and potentially self destructive to those who are possessed with it.
While there are those out there who make the case that a little bit of jealousy is harmless, even a minor level of envy can be potentially problematic in that it can frequently amplify and fester within one’s soul and anger up the blood. For all you guys out there consumed with jealously, (and there are probably a number of you), please make every effort to seek whatever help you can to rid yourself from such confining shackles of emotional and psychological insecurity. You will be a much better person for it. Period.
Photo Credit: Ρanayotis/flickr