Envy and Jealousy: The Emotions of Self-Doubt & Their Remedies

Megan Smith
 min read

Who has never felt envy and jealousy toward someone?

Blonde Woman Standing Behind Woman With Brown Hair Looking At Her With Envy And JealousyThese types of emotions are normal feelings that everyone has experienced before.

Envy and jealousy: Introduction

The appearance of envy and jealousy are signs of low self-esteem, especially when one is tempted to compare or compete with others.

These two emotions, which reflect self-doubt, are very different from each other. However, “jealousy” is often used to refer to both today.

In this article, we will introduce you to the emotions of self-doubt and some helpful tips on how to deal with them.

What are envy and jealousy?

Before finding remedies to fight these two emotions, it is essential to understand them well.

On the one hand, envy can be defined as an unpleasant feeling that we can have towards what another person has and that we would like to have.

Such as:

  • a slim and toned body,
  • more muscles,
  • less cellulite,
  • no more love handles, etc.

You may be jealous of your spouse, who can eat without gaining weight, causing you to carefully watch their every move.

Generally, we are envious of the people we are more or less close to, or at least with whom we can reasonably compare ourselves.

As such, we are rarely envious of the lifestyle of people far away from us socially, like models or influencers.

However, know that even these people can be affected by envy. For example, a model who wants to look like a movie actress or a sports influencer who wants more partnerships with sports products than his competitor, etc.

On the other hand, jealousy refers to the fear of losing something we already have. For example, one can be jealous of one’s privileges which one will defend with aggressiveness and vigilance.

Jealousy could occur when someone else has more than their fair share of a coveted resource or relationship.

  • This resource could be tangible such as food, sweets, chocolate, donuts, cookies, or the jar of chocolate spread in the kitchen cupboard.
  • But it could also be a more intangible resource such as attention from parents, a relationship with a friend, or intimacy with your romantic partner.

As such, you may feel jealousy when your spouse dances with someone else at a party.

One can also be jealous in friendship, which translates into a desire to be someone’s exclusive friend.

It is possible to be both envious and jealous. Let’s take the example of a little boy who feels that his brother has received a better gift from his parents than his own:

  • He will be envious: “His gift is better than mine.”
  • He will also be jealous: “If he received a better gift, it means mom and dad prefer him over me.”

Of course, these emotions are clearly linked to low self-esteem.

Why do we feel envy?

For envy to arise, two conditions are necessary:

  • First, a social comparison, often unfavorable, between our advantages and those of the other person.
  • Then, a feeling of powerlessness to obtain what the other has.

Indeed, without this feeling of powerlessness, we would not be envious but simply more motivated to obtain the same thing.

Therefore, there is a link with our self-esteem: we envy what we don’t have, but only if we think we cannot obtain it ourselves.

Envy does not necessarily have to do with power or actual possessions: for example, one can also be envious of a flat stomach, a more muscular body, other people’s relationships or good self-esteem, or even of one’s happiness, positive body image and good mood, etc.

This universal phenomenon exists in all cultures. There are even legends of kings and emperors who envy the little things their subjects possess.

Since envy is rooted in self-esteem problems, this creates a vicious circle. This makes us even more fragile and pushes us to toxic social comparisons.

Being envious of others implicitly refers to an image of a powerless self to obtain what we are attracted to.

Envy will also facilitate a feeling of personal failure that some people will associate with social injustice.

If the feeling of envy becomes habitual, it will lead to a sick and obsessive reading of the other’s advantages, and it will be even more destructive for self-esteem and could cause self-esteem instability.

How can we free ourselves from envy?

Many efforts will have to be made to free oneself from this feeling of envy, such as saying bad things about the people one is envious of (gossiping).

The urge to bad-mouth is primarily related to envy and the feeling of little control over one’s life and environment.

Gossiping can also be helpful to our emotional well-being as long as it is not accompanied by overly strong negative emotions.

Therefore, why not talk about something that annoys you? Just be careful not to get too angry, not to believe in it too much, and especially to do it just for the pleasure of talking and exchanging.

Another temptation not so far away is to complain about society.

You can voice your envy openly through a conversation while disguising it as the more socially acceptable speaking out against injustice in society.

Indeed, injustice is a problem, but it differs from our inability to bear what others have more than us.

It is challenging to transform your envy into indifference or even benevolence.

Why is it so difficult to rejoice in the success of others, especially if it takes nothing away from us? If you have self-esteem problems, you’ll know this is not easy.

And yet, it is an exercise that is very healthy and instructive, especially concerning those ridiculous urges that put us in competitive social situations.

For example, if I meet someone who has lost a lot of weight in a short time, I should not say to myself:

“She’s so lucky, she will attract a lot of attention and everyone will be interested in her because she has become thinner.”

Instead, I should say to myself:

“What is her weight loss program? Perhaps she can help me to also lose weight?”

Also, be aware that you must do more than just suppress the urge; it is better to also recognize it and transform it.

We must train ourselves to move from:

  • aggressive envy: “it’s unfair that she’s so thin.”
  • or depressive envy: “I’m too fat and I’ll never lose weight.” (Have you tried walking to lose weight?)
  • to emulative envy: “How can I get a dream body that fulfills all my wishes?”

By adopting this attitude, we could recover the original, natural, and beneficial functions of desire: the stimulation to act.

The danger of jealousy in relationships

On the other hand, jealousy is based on the fear of losing a privileged or exclusive resource or relationship.

The envious person would like to have that which another possesses, while the jealous person only wants to keep what he thinks is his.

Regarding relationships, jealousy is based on a false conception of the emotional bond with another person, whether love or friendship.

Of course, jealousy related to love involves us more profoundly and is even more destructive to our self-image.

In both cases, jealousy is based on an ancient and primitive conception that to love means to possess.

Therefore, accepting the love of a jealous person would be accepting submission to their sickly instinct of possession.

Jealousy always causes suffering and anxiety.

This is caused by:

Jealous people never savor their happiness. They only guard it. The self-esteem problems rooted in jealousy are more evident than those caused by envy.

The jealous person fears their qualities are insufficient to keep their friend or partner by their side.

Therefore, jealous people will start to scrutinize, intimidate, and imprison others instead of making them want to stay. They will try by all means to prevent them from leaving.

Moreover, being jealous does not improve one’s poor self-esteem.

Namely, jealousy prevents one from being reassured of the love or affection another really has for them. Moreover, since the other is imprisoned, it is impossible to know if they are really attached to them.

Jealousy thus aggravates the problem instead of finding solutions. It is a complete failure of the relationship with the other and oneself.

Moreover, it doesn’t allow for reciprocity, an essential element of a fulfilling relationship.

Think of the analogy of a bird in a cage:

  • You could keep it locked in all the time and never let it out. As a natural result, the bird will try to escape every chance it gets, and you’ll never know if the bird is happy being with you.
  • Or, you could keep it in the cage with the door open, allowing the bird to go out when it pleases. Then, should the bird stay in the cage, you’ll be reassured that the bird is happy staying with you.

How to work on your jealousy?

In psychotherapy, there are few occasions to help pathologically jealous people since they don’t often come for help. In general, only their entourage sometimes comes to seek advice in therapy.

People who want to get rid of their jealousy must go to work on themselves. Often this requires working on all the basics of attachment psychology.

Generally, jealous people have had insecure attachments since childhood. This could be for various reasons, such as traumas related to separation or abandonment or hypersensitivity to separation.

Indeed, jealous people often dread letting go of their emotional relationship to be their own person. Therefore, once they have set their sights on someone, they cannot imagine:

  • letting the other person go (within their control),
  • nor being let go by the other person (out of their control, so they will watch every move of the other and imprison them in a toxic relationship).

To free yourself from jealousy, you must rethink your way of relating to others and take care of your self-esteem and confidence in yourself.

Naturally, you are advised to seek professional help if this is seriously troubling you.

Envy and jealousy: Conclusion

Envy and jealousy are two feelings strongly linked to low self-esteem behaviors.

Everyone has been envious or jealous of another person at one time or another. However, you mustn’t let it become an obsession that makes you sick.

We should accept ourselves as we are to avoid these two feelings that can be really toxic in our social life.

Interesting fact: Jealousy and envy are strongly linked to low self-esteem, which is linked to health problems and a less than optimal career path!

About Megan Smith

Megan has been fighting overweight and her plus size since her teenage years. After trying all types of remedies without success, she started doing her own research. Megan founded Plus Size Zeal to share her findings. She also developed various detailed buying guides for plus-size people in order to make their lives easier and more comfortable. Read More