According to Shakespeare, and my good friend, John Annesley, jealousy is the green eyed monster.
Shakespeare wrote, in Othello, “Beware of jealousy, my lord! It’s a green-eyed monster that makes fun of the victims it devours.”
I tend to agree with The Bard on this one.
I have been working hard at controlling my thoughts, emotions and behaviors over the past few years.
It is a dedicated study that I have been doing and continue to do each moment I breathe.
My study of emotions and thoughts began long before graduate school where I studied to be a Marriage and Family Therapist.
I specialized in Somatic Psychology (body and mind) but later took a seminar in David Burns’ Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and my life changed in an instant.
It is based on scientific research, including scores written by the clients themselves so it is not just the therapist deciding what is the truth for a client, and allows me to distance myself from negative emotions and feelings quite easily.
It also allows clients to do this. I’ve seen it over the past 6 years and feel there is no better way to help people decide what is right for them, in this moment, and move on to a much more content, positive and fulfilling life.
One of the true benefits is it allows one to see that they are in control of their choices and are free to do what they want, at any moment, because the consequences will be theirs, whether they make a choice or not.
My choice has been to rid myself of jealousy and I’ve done a fairly good job at it.
I’ve had a few small pangs of it in the past 9 months living in Beijing but they went away quite quickly because I’m living, in my opinion, what is pretty much the perfect life for me.
However, I hit a major roadbump a few days ago.
A high school friend of mine was visiting China for work.
We were going to meet up and catch up after 20 some odd years.
However, she ran into a famous musician and her band and decided to hang out with them.
They actually gave her back stage passes and invited her up to their hotel rooms.
She was able to hang out with them and live a bit of a dream.
Well, at least it is a dream for me.
This is where my jealousy came in.
I would love to be invited back stage by a world famous musician and get to hang with her and her band.
So, instead of just being excited for her, I started to feel as if I wasn’t important and was being “left out.”
Strangely enough, it wasn’t that I was being left out of seeing my friend, because I knew she’d be back in a few months and we’d hang out then, it was that I was being left out of a party that I never would have been invited to or even thought about if not for her getting this amazing chance.
Jealousy, that green eyed monster, can strike at any second.
Now the choice was up to me: I could do some behavioral therapy work or sit and become more jealous.
I choose to do the work.
I’m also a firm believer in being vulnerable and admitting your fears.
I have found that when I admit my fears, then tend to be destroyed by the truth of speaking them.
I told Jill that, “I’m feeling really jealous of her wonderful luck and the great chances she is having. I want to be there and having those experiences with her.”
Jill looked very surprised and noted, “I don’t think I’ve ever known you to be jealous. Is there something I can do?”
I told her, “Nope, I just need to do a bit of a daily mood log and work on my cognitive distortions.”
Interestingly, I don’t think Jill really gets jealous. She seems genuinely happy for what people receive and what she receives.
I have practiced these so much, with my clients and on myself, that it is almost automatic at this point.
I sat there, thought out the cognitive distortions and how my automatic negative thoughts could be reframed in a positive thought, and blew the lies that my jealousy told me with away easily.
I allowed myself to feel gratitude for my wonderful friend who was getting this incredible adventure and chance of a lifetime.
Instead of jealousy, I felt joy for her.
I also felt proud that I hit the speed bump, did the work, and drove right over it.
It is something I preach to my clients as relapse is almost 100% and the skills that you learn in therapy will help you stop the speed bump from becoming a mountain.
I’m proud that I live by the words that I speak.
And, that jealousy is still alive and can remind me that we have a choice to be grateful or not.
I choose to be grateful.