“Does jealousy have value in driving humans to improve themselves or is it purely a negative emotion?”
Danny asked this question yesterday and it has triggered some random thoughts that I’d like to share and maybe we can have a little discussion in the comments afterwards. I think in general people agreed, and I’m one of them: It’s a negative emotion. So how can it have value?
How can an emotion that gets people to do things they would “normally” not do actually be positive? When I think jealousy I see a raging face, I hear harsh and hurtful words. I see tears. The feelings I relate to jealousy are fear, anger, panic, pain, rage…
Irene has nailed it in saying that jealousy is related to confidence and that often people who lack confidence will show the most jealousy. I agree but then I also wonder: There are so many out there who basically lose it. Jealousy is a word that often gets mentioned in relation to domestic abuse. Maybe it’s just a cheap excuse for someone who has no control over him- or herself. But often it’s jealousy that triggers the first physical attack. Or am I wrong? So do people like that lack in confidence too? Do they simply overshadow their lack of confidence with aggression and control?
I know domestic violence is on the far end of the spectrum in regards to jealousy. And yet I believe that Irene has actually hit the nail on its head. People who control others through violence can’t be confident. Otherwise they wouldn’t need force or mean mind tricks to keep the people they want to have around in check.
There are so many forms of jealousy. Siblings feel jealous of each other because they think one gets more of whatever than the other. People are jealous because of others having success. They are jealous of what others call their property. Maybe they’re jealous of others being happy. Friends are jealous when their friends are friends with others and do something with their other friends. Lovers are jealous. We are jealous of someone’s look. The list could go on and on.
And while I’m listing all of this it becomes clearer and clearer that everything falls back on confidence. Confidence in yourself, your actions.
So maybe jealousy has value in driving us to improve ourselves. But we need to want this first. We need to make ourselves see it first and then we need to start working on our confidence and build it up. That’s a long process though. And jealousy is a bitter and strong feeling that tends to cloud your thoughts and take over. It creeps back. So it’s a tough process and I wonder if you can ever truly overcome it?