If you’ve ever wondered how to stop being jealous after a scroll through your Facebook feed leaves you feeling like a crazy person, you’re not alone. I’ve been there, too. As ashamed as we might be to admit it, jealousy is a tough demon to beat.
Before Facebook posts were a thing, I could go about my daily life not knowing what my ex was doing with his new girlfriend or what amazing new job a high school classmate had just got. But now we’re in the modern world, and we have the privilege — and burden — of knowing everything about everyone. Well, maybe not everything. Social media, after all, is just a highlight reel.
Nevertheless, it’s difficult to remember that we shouldn’t really be comparing ourselves to others. Why? Because our feelings of envy can linger and have unpleasant effects on our mood and our perspective of our own lives. So, If you’re feeling or have ever felt like the grass was greener on the other side, you might want consider giving meditation a try.
How can meditation help jealousy?
Most people think of meditation for stress relief, but not everyone considers jealousy a stressor. The truth is, feeling jealous can indicate that a person’s sense of safety is threatened, so these emotions really should be addressed. Luckily, meditation can actually work to rewire the brain for more positive thinking and relief from envious feelings.
According to Psychology Today, meditation affects the prefrontal cortex, more specifically the “Me Center” of the brain — the same part associated with jealous feelings. It also affects the amygdala, or the “fear center,” that governs our fight or flight response. Balancing these systems with meditation can help you to gain control over negative thoughts and emotions, and can even improve your ability to connect with others. Scroll down for a simple practice to get started with today.
1. Notice your feelings.
The first step to overcoming any problem is becoming aware of it. Meditation doesn’t always look like someone sitting down in a tranquil environment with flute music in the background. It can be as simple as taking a moment — in any environment or situation — to pause and to notice.
When a jealous feeling arises, acknowledge it. Before you run off on a thought tangent, take a moment and a deep breath into your belly and recognize that the feeling is there. You might say (aloud or to yourself), "I am feeling jealous." Observing your thoughts gives you the power to take control of their direction. Simple enough, right?
2. Breathe and reflect.
The magic of meditation is really in the breath. Once you’ve noticed that you’re feeling jealous, simply paying attention to your breathing and taking slow, conscious breaths can ease the tension by bringing you back to the present moment. It can even stop you from following that one negative thought down a rabbit hole of more pessimism.
This practice may seem really simple, but it’s tough at first since our brains are conditioned in old habits of thinking. Try to practice your breathing for at least one minute, with deep inhales into your belly and deep exhales out, making the exhales longer than the inhales. With repetition, this exercise can be the one that saves you from what may be the most common happiness killer — overthinking.
3. Practice letting go — and use a mantra.
If it were as simple as “just let it go,” then you probably wouldn’t have read this far. The idea of letting a negative thought or thought pattern go is great, but our brains don’t necessarily work that way. If we’re going to give up a habit that's essential to the way we view ourselves and others in the world, we need to replace it with something. That’s where a mantra comes in.
Your mantra doesn’t have to be complicated; all it has to do is propose a positive to replace a negative thought. Because jealousy often arises as a result of feeling inadequate, mantras combat jealousy by focusing on abundance. Think about it this way, if you believe there’s enough for everyone, there’s nothing to compete for.
Your mantra could be something like, “I have enough. I am abundant,” if you’re struggling with feeling like others have more than you have, or “I am enough,” if you find that you're struggling with feeling inadequate. To use your mantra, simply repeat it slowly over and over, with a big long breath in between each repetition. Do this for a few minutes, even if it feels like lying at first — which it might if your mind is fighting to tell you the old same story. Saying a mantra gives your mind something else to focus on and introduces a new way of thinking. Eventually, and with repetition, you'll start to actually believe it.
A simple meditation practice like this one can do wonders in training the mind to think more positively about ourselves and the world around us. Taking some time in our day to pause, breathe, and reflect is an act of self care that allows us to connect with ourselves in a way that benefits everyone. We hope that you'll give this practice a try and remember, the grass is always greener where it's watered.