Why Do We Feel Jealous and Envious?

Why Do We Feel Jealous and Envious?

Why Do We Feel Jealous and Envious? Most people experience envy subconsciously; it stems from a preoccupation with other people’s achievements and a desire to tear them down.

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One who suffers an envious episode will likely feel terrible about themselves without understanding why. Sometimes, it’s so delicate that you wonder whether you imagine things.

Although the two emotions share similarities, envy and jealousy are not the same.

The typical jealous triangle consists of three individuals. If you’re in a relationship, you might worry that your partner will one day leave you for someone else.

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Jealousy can arise if you overhear them talking quietly or catch a glimpse of them having an intimate exchange that doesn’t include you. Jealousy is a somewhat proactive and self-aware emotion that may stem from insecurity.

When it comes to envy, though, things are usually kept under wraps. It may resort to passive-aggressive behavior, hell-bent on wreaking havoc on that which it cannot possess. Usually, envy affects a pair. It’s possible that the envious individual wants what the other person has and is just frustrated that they can’t have it for themselves. The jealous person may take out their anger on the target in subtle (or not-so-subtle) ways.

Low self-esteem, perhaps from early unmet needs wherein the individual felt fundamental, not good enough, is a common contributor to feelings of envy. It’s common for someone envious to engage in a cycle of “compare and despair” when they feel bad about themselves after always coming up short. Thus, they set out to destroy everything or whoever they believe is responsible for their negative emotions. Because the envier’s sense of identity is contingent on factors external to oneself, it’s tempting to think of the other person as ultimately responsible for the envious one’s contentment. They constantly seek new experiences to satisfy a feeling of emptiness within themselves.

The jealous individual can make themselves feel better by making the other person feel awful about the item that makes them feel inferior. It’s a dangerous approach to boosting confidence, but it seems that the envious person has to take in some of the other’s vitality to feel complete and functional. However, the “feel good” impact wears off quickly, so they may need to increase the stakes to maintain their improved mood. People who are envious of others might be fierce competitors. They may even appear to take delight in the suffering of others. Every day, we witness this kind of jealous attack on social media, where celebrities’ appearances and behaviors are criticized, and even the smallest lapse is amplified and demonized.

Why Do We Feel Jealous?

Jealousy, as we have seen, is experienced in the context of a relationship or the threat of its loss.

Many studies of human emotion have taken an evolutionary tack.

As the theory goes, jealousy is explained as an evolutionary response to a threat. It’s unclear if this is an adaptive or maladaptive response. An adapted reaction has arisen due to evolution, while a maladaptive response has persisted even when it is no longer useful.

Jealousy develops when we fear for the well-being of a significant other or the benefits we receive from them. The notion states that jealousy is ingrained into us because it compels us to take action to preserve the connection. Consequently, it’s not something we can prevent or even influence.

Some researchers have proposed that insecurity is at the root of jealousy. Worrying about a relationship or a piece of it is natural when you have low self-esteem.

Why Do We Feel Envious?

Envy can also be understood in terms of its evolutionary background. But there’s more to envy than meets the eye.

To gauge their value and happiness, humans frequently look to the lives of those around them as a point of comparison. The emotion of envy arises when we compare ourselves to others who have something we need or want but do not have.

Envy can be distinguished from admiration because it results from the comparison.

Think about what’s happening here: You had a classmate you thought of as a peer. Ten years later, your friend has more money than you do. Would you be envious of Jeff Bezos if he were your friend or someone as rich as, or even richer than, your friend?

The former — their friend — will target most people’s envy. You and your friend are strikingly similar. Even if you and Jeff Bezos share some background characteristics like attending the same school, being from middle-class families, and being brilliant, you might not have much in common besides those shared characteristics.

If your friend was as wealthy as Jeff Bezos, you might admire him but secretly envy him. Therefore, envy relies heavily on comparison.

Along with these causes, jealousy and envy can be exacerbated by overthinking, trauma, paranoia, and low self-esteem.

Should we embrace feelings of envy and jealousy?

Anger and fear, two of the most common unpleasant emotions, are thought to have evolved or developed to serve our best interests. The debate over whether or not feelings of envy and jealousy are beneficial is far from settled, so let me provide arguments for and against it.

Many think joy and happiness are harmful to us. After all, they represent an unpleasant emotional state for the one experiencing them. These feelings usually cause us to act in ways that are detrimental to our health.

Our valuation of various factors can also trigger feelings of jealousy and envy. It’s possible, though, that this isn’t the case, in which case our worry is unfounded and fruitless.

On the other hand, many think that negative emotions like envy and jealousy can be useful catalysts for change. Think of a time when we need to improve our relationships, when we need to get something specific, or when we need to work on a trait that could prove useful to us in the future. We might use feelings of jealousy or envy to spur us on to better ourselves and the things we value.

The answer we give ourselves to the question “What do you value?” can be distorted by society’s norms about what we should value. However, a more truthful response can be gleaned through contemplating the sources of our envy and jealousy, as doing so compels us to look at ourselves and evaluate what we truly value.

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