5 Silent Ways To Manage Jealousy When You Envy Someone Else's Life

Jealousy is a great plotline for a movie, but in real life it can be excruciating.

Jealousy, unfair two people eating different meals Getty Images | Unsplash 

You may not always see it at first, or perhaps you deny its existence. Yes, everyone has gotten jealous over something in other people’s lives, or as I often refer to it, they've experienced the “grass is always greener” effect.

While it's a compelling motivation that makes for great movies, books, and television, it isn't a fun thing to go through in your own life. So how do you manage when others close to you rear their jealous heads?


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Five ways to stop feeling so jealous and just enjoy your life

1. Understand that looks might be deceiving.

Indeed, the grass looks greener on the other side, but just because someone looks like they have it all doesn’t mean they do. We often feel jealous of other people’s success or life journeys.

“Why did they get married/have kids before me?”

"How are they more successful than me?"

"Why does everything seem to work out for them? They don't try as hard as I do!"

You might ask these questions without realizing or acknowledging the potential struggles that person has gone through long before achieving success. You don't know what someone else is going through, and the face they present might not be entirely true.


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2. Deal with this emotion calmly.

Jealousy often comes on like a passionate lover — hot, intense, and heavy. Jealousy is often an impulsive emotion. It comes on suddenly, and we often don’t realize we feel jealous until we’re thick in the throes of it.

It's crucial to maintain a level head and fight the urge to become jealous. Rationalize your feelings, and make sure you aren't just flying off the handle with your decisions.

3. Address it, don't ignore it.

Recognize it within yourself and acknowledge its presence. Denying it’s bothering you that your friend got engaged when you just got out of a relationship doesn't help. So pay attention the next time someone says or does something that ticks you off a little (or a lot!). Acknowledging the feeling can help you decide whether to pursue it or let it go.


Everyone has a trigger that bothers them, but it would be helpful to know what yours is so that you can say to yourself, “Here comes that feeling of jealousy again — feeling like I’ll never be where I want to be because my friend already has everything going for them… Okay, I felt that way when someone else landed the job I wanted..."

By acknowledging your jealous moments, you might even begin to recognize a pattern in your behavior and identify the areas in your life that you feel are lacking.

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4. Use it to your advantage.

Often, what we envy in others reflects what we desire in ourselves, and perhaps are too ashamed or unsure of where to start. Many articles point to fear or anxiety as the root cause of jealousy.


And while that's true in some cases, it's also true that change or growth starts in a place of being uncomfortable. Ever really felt like getting out of your cozy bed on a cold Monday morning or leaving that vacation on the beautiful all-inclusive beach resort behind? Not!

It’s OK to feel scared or anxious about what you don’t know or understand or to leave your comfort zone. The feeling of jealousy confirms how uncomfortable it is not to know how to get what you truly want or desire.



5. Pay attention to what it's telling you.

Take the jealous feeling you're experiencing as a way to do an inventory or an assessment of your own life. What is going well? Are there goals or ideas you want to work on? New passions or interests you want to pursue? What is your jealousy trying to tell you?


If you have trouble answering these questions, that’s OK because they are tough ones. Sorting it out with a mental health professional can be helpful because they are there to give you a neutral, nonjudgmental place to understand this type of self-exploration.

By tapping into, rather than away from, your feelings of jealousy, you can not only help your relationships with others but ultimately come away with a better understanding of yourself: What makes you tick, what motivates you, and what inspires you to grow?

Jealousy is a difficult state, but it can also be a wonderful teacher if you're willing to learn from it.


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Maxine Langdon Starr, Ph.D., LMFT is a marriage and family therapist specializing in adolescents and young adults, partner/owner of Sunflower Therapies, professor of psychology at Brandman University, and motivational speaker on self-esteem.