Jealousy is one of the most prevalent areas of psychological ignorance about yourself, about others and more particularly, about relationships.
The only Bible story I remember from my childhood days is the one from the Old Testament about Joseph and his jealous brothers. Father Jacob had many sons, but Joseph was one of the youngest, and he loved him most of all. Moreover, Joseph was very special because of the dreams he had. One of his dreams was about binding sheaves of wheat with his brothers in the fields; his sheaf stayed upright while his brother’s sheaves stood in a circle around his and bowed.
As a child and a late arrival, I loved that story. On a subconscious level, I recognized myself in Joseph and my elder sisters in his brothers. They were also jealous of the late addition to the family. I cannot recollect any concrete deeds that were done from jealousy; I was not thrown in the well or sold. I have discovered through reliving the past, that jealousy did have an effect on me on an energetic level. Jealousy means, ultimately, that others begrudge you life and light. My sisters did not do that because they were nasty people but because they apparently did not get enough of what they needed in life and had the impression that their little sister did.
And that is what jealousy really amounts to: ‘Me, too, please’. If you feel jealous, it is always a signal of your own unfulfilled desire. It is a longing for something that the other has. Jealousy is often swept under the carpet of respectability because it is not right or not really permitted. I think it is a good thing to allow yourself to feel jealousy and to learn from it. Of whom and what are you jealous and what do you long for? You will keep the jealous energy to yourself in this way and not allow it to go to another person who will feel it one way or another on an energetic level. Jealousy can become your teacher on the path to fulfilment. It shows you the path to what you long for but have not brought to fulfilment yet.
Of course, the next question is how are you going to fulfil yourself? That can simply be done by becoming aware of your longing; it is just a question of “going for it.” Just go and do what you long to do. If you, for example, are jealous of people who can play music beautifully, learn to play an instrument or take singing lessons. ‘
“Going for it” takes effort, discipline, and perseverance. That is where it often goes wrong; people want their fulfilment handed to them on a plate. The longing inner child does not come in contact with the adult will. But that is the second step.
Let us take as an example, the jealous feeling you have when your wife pays attention to another man. Your message is “I want a lot of attention, too.” You do not usually want more attention from your wife but have just discovered the bottomless pit syndrome. These longings usually stem from your inner child that did not get enough love. What you should do is go to your wife like a small child and ask her if she can pay attention to the inner child. You should not go to each other as adult men or women but as the little children that you still are sometimes. The latter is very important. A shortage can only be supplemented on the level at which it belongs, and that is usually at the level of your inner child. You must do this consciously. You do not really have to change anything; you only have to ask consciously for what you usually demand from each other subconsciously. This not only allows you to become aware of your inner child but also allows that child to catch up. If you can also acknowledge the feeling of sorrow that you have because your mother or father were too busy to give you much attention or they were perhaps ill or dead, then you are on the right path to healing yourself and having adult relationships and fulfilment. If you give your inner child a chance in a relationship, it will become fundamentally richer. We think that we are grown up, but our unfulfilled child regularly emerges in all kinds of ways. The subconscious child makes us demanding in relationships and especially in our married relationships. We all demand subconsciously that our partner fills the hole that we have felt since childhood. The subconscious child is usually the cause of marriage problems.
A person who is fulfilled is never jealous. If you feel jealous, it is time to get to do some inner Work! Just get on with it! Your life and that of others will become much more pleasant!
Jealousy, the Urge to Possess and the Fear of Abandonment
There can be a subconscious nagging fear of abandonment in relationships where jealousy plays a major part. The tendency to regard the other as your property stems from this fear of abandonment.
Eric and Anne have been married for years. Subconsciously they have a complementary relationship; she is his mummy, and he is the undernourished boy who never grew up. When she goes into town to do shopping, he looks for her after a couple of hours. When she wants to visit a friend, he makes nasty remarks over that friend. When she wants to follow a course, he advises her not to, and if she does anyway, he sits and sulks like a child. This goes on, year in, year out. Finally she gives up her mother role and says that she feels stifled in their relationship. She wants freedom and space and wants to divorce him. His answer is to threaten to commit suicide.
With this threat, he shows that he wants to leave her but stop her from leaving him. He thinks he can defeat the same with the same. He ought to realize who it is he actually feels abandoned by; it is logical to think of his mother here.
This does not mean that his mother literally left him by, for example, dying when he was young. Such a fear of abandonment and the ensuing urge to possess usually stems from affective neglect. The only way out of such a dilemma is for him to realize that he is trying to get his wife to make up for the absence of his mother. That is not what she is for, and what he is doing will not work as it is a never-ending story. Because this is happening at a subconscious level, he will not become fulfilled by her motherly care and attention. He can only make up for this absence by becoming aware. It would be better and more effective if he was prepared to work at it on an emotional level.
Comparing and Self-acceptance
I was planning to write that jealousy is also a product of our deeply ingrained tendency to compare. I was building on what my former teacher Osho used to say—comparing is the basis of our inferiority and superiority complexes. But I now think that there is probably nothing wrong with comparing in itself. Comparing is a good method to becoming acquainted with the relative dependency of things. It is also a good way of getting to know your own merits and building up your own identity. By seeing the consequence of another person’s behavior, you can draw your own conclusions. You can learn by observing somebody who is doing something in a totally different way than you would. By comparing, you can see good and evil, light and darkness. We live in a world of polarity, and that is our school of learning.
And yet, there is something wrong with our way of comparing as it often does indeed lead to feelings of inferiority and superiority. The old emotional charges are prevalent here, and this causes comparing to deteriorate into something negative. We are compared to each other from childhood. We learn to compare ourselves with others in this way. It begins in the cradle: “He has his father’s nose” or “She is smaller than her sister.” That goes on, but it is of no real importance as long as there are no old emotional charges connected to these remarks, and they are loving or even emotionally neutral. Comparing becomes ugly because of unfinished histories and accompanying subconscious emotional charges. I think that the word “achieve” plays a major role in this case. Achievement thinking stems from deep feelings of worthlessness. Comparing that stems from subconscious feelings of worthlessness leads to comparing combined with emotional charge. I think that we all suffer from a feeling of worthlessness on this planet although we usually do not realize it. For centuries we built a culture based on an achievement-orientated form of comparing from this extremely subconscious layer. This achievement-orientated form, which originated from feelings of worthlessness, has become mixed with the neutral and enquiring form of comparing which is geared towards learning.
We must perceive as purely as possible. It is often said that objective observation hardly exists; we all have our own way of seeing things subjectively. A healthy way of seeing things means cleaning our doors of perception. That is what emotional Work is all about!
There is nothing wrong with us establishing the fact that Mary is better at abstract learning than John, who is better with his hands. However, it does go wrong when we generalize and say that Mary is more intelligent, stupid, pretty, or uglier than... We have all developed preconceived cultural notions about intelligence and beauty. I remember a former childhood friend of mine who was ugly according to the usual standards of the day. She had a large head, a big crooked nose, and unruly hair. But I remember her as a very lively, generous girl with whom I loved to play. I could not see her ugliness; to me, she was a wonderful person. And what are we to think of our culture of slimness? Or our culture of intelligence where we ask, “Who is the most intelligent?” Thank goodness the concept of emotional intelligence is finding its way in our culture. But there are a lot of cultural measuring rods taking our measure, and that is not good for us. The appreciation for the miracle called uniqueness is lost. For me, a very special aspect of creation is that nobody is the same. But even in this case, there are differences. God is very creative. However, it seems that we cannot cope with enormous creativity and diversity, and for that reason, we often use measuring rods and compartmentalization to keep a hold on all that beautiful abundance. Perhaps admiring creation instead of trying to keep a hold on it is part of our training here on earth. Perhaps it will also be possible to learn to admire each other in all our colorful diversity.
In schools, comparing also reigns supreme. This is expressed by figures, by stamps, and by favors from the teacher. The joy of learning together is pushed to the background for the purpose of obtaining good marks and passing exams. This is the way to obtain a fear of failure. Sport is all about competition and scoring points rather than about taking pleasure in playing a game together. It is no wonder that feelings of inferiority and superiority play a major role in our mutual relationships; sometimes you feel like a giant and sometimes like Tom Thumb. These are not extremes but two sides of the same coin; the achievement-oriented comparison coin. If you feel superior, you have a feeling of inferiority within you. If you feel inferior, there is a need deep within you to be superior. The common denominator is a feeling of worthlessness. In both cases, you have a tendency to prove yourself through your deeds, your words, or your appearance. You often do not realize that you feel inferior because of these compensations. These compensations have become so ordinary and so much part of you that you imagine that they are part of your authenticity. The only sign is the continual tension under which you live. Eventually you may have a burnout. You are, after all, not living peacefully from your own strength and authenticity. This is doomed to fail sooner or later.
The consequence of compensation behavior and comparing yourself to others is not having the slightest notion of your own uniqueness and because of this, not loving yourself. If there is no acknowledgement of your beautiful distinctiveness, then jealousy will rear its ugly head and play a nasty trick on you and on other people. Jealousy means living in competition with others and comparing yourself to them; it is a road that leads nowhere and deviates more and more from who you are. If you have learned to observe objectively in a clear emotional daylight, you will no longer compare yourself to others but love your own matchlessness. There will no longer be any jealousy. There will be love! Where there is jealousy, there can be no love… for yourself.
more about this subject in my book: the liberating power of emotions