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  • Writer's pictureLida Sherafatmand

Jealousy a self-sabotaging mechanism; so what is its function for us?

In view of recent successes in my artist life, I have witnessed a number of small incidents in which some people expressed envy and jealousy. Therefore I decided to write my first article on this blog about jealousy which is a self-sabotaging mechanism if not wisely dealt with, and that it can be used for our flowering instead of making us suffer.

Jealousy and envy get created when one sees what he wants in another person and despises that person for it. However taking a step backwards, just before starting to despise another person, there is simply a pain, a ‘healthy’ pain indicating that one is seeking something in life which has not been reached or fulfilled yet. The pain is ‘healthy’ in that it makes one become aware; just like a pain in a limb of our body which would be indicating us that there is a cut, or wound, or some other issue to look into. Once one takes the pain as an indicator, then one can also see the other person in front of him who has that very thing which one wants, as a living proof that it is possible to have what one is seeking. Therefore that person is like a ‘guide’ which the life around us has provided for us to see as an example to learn from.

When the healthy pain level turns to despise and hatred that is jealousy, consequently by being jealous towards the person who has what we want, we are literally hating (pushing away) the very physical manifestation of that which we are seeking. By being jealous towards the person who has what we want we literally deny the very guide which life has brought us to learn from for what we aspire in our own life path! This is how jealousy sabotages ourselves from having what we want.

We are all at different stages of development, in very different situations, and life conditions. Therefore it is only natural that one would possess different things at different levels. Having this fact in mind, also cancels out any elements of ‘selfishness’ and ‘disconnectedness’ in jealousy ( “It should be mine and not theirs”, or “why them and not me”).  Jealousy happens in ‘disconnectedness’, because it is not seeing one as part of the bigger community. It is also ‘selfish’ because it is thinking only about one’s own good and not that of others too.

Wanting things for one’s self only and not for others too, is another self-sabotaging mechanism. Wanting the growth of others as well as one’s own growth increases immensely one’s power. Consequently wanting things only for one’s self decreases one’s power. This happens because one’s force enters into synergy with others’ force when one wants others’ good too.

So what is the function of jealousy once it exists in human nature?

Just like when we accidentally cut our finger, or bump into something, there is a sudden pain which indicates the cut, just before jealousy becomes a force of despise towards another person, there is a sudden pain which indicates we are seeking something that we have not developed yet in our life. The person who has been a stimulus for this pain to come out, is a guide; therefore immediately we can harness the pain before it turns to jealousy and transform it into respect and appreciation towards that person. The persons who are a stimulus for this pain are giving us the chance to witness the live possibility of what we seek and are a guide to learn from indeed.

When I was living in Paris, as a rather naive artist who knew very little about the international art world, I witnessed the successes of artists living there and tried to learn from them. However there were also cases which could not be exactly taken as a model to learn from; some artists who were seemingly succeeding but on grounds which for me were not correct according to my personal values. Others though were succeeding on grounds which seemed concretely ethical and correct according to my personal values. So I chose the latter as models to learn from.  At that moment it was a choice indeed: having what I wanted at what cost. Not everyone’s model may be the perfect one to follow.

Human nature is of course very complex, and things do not function in separate compartments like in a physics lab. So let’s say if a person who has no legs becomes jealous towards a professional dancer, there may be a life calling there for the person with no legs to dance, and how far that person wants to make dancing a meaningful challenge to overcome in his life. Many people in fact have overcome such challenge and become even professional dancers despite physical limitations, and their dancing has touched the audience to deepest levels.

To conclude, jealousy starts as an emotion of pain, which is a healthy indicator for the person to become aware of what he is seeking. But if the pain is directed towards another person it has been transformed to despise and hatred.  A person who has what we want is a natural proof and model for us to learn from. Therefore despising the person who has what we want, is actually despising what we want, which is a clear contradiction and self-sabotaging mechanism.

The only healthy function of jealousy is its initial pain as an indication of reminding us that somewhere inside, we are seeking something and the person in front of us is reminding us about it- the person can be a guiding model for us indeed and deserves our appreciation and respect for that. With that direction we can sure blossom out of the original pain rather than suffer from it. Anything beyond the pain having an indicator function is damaging for one’s life and stops the flowering of a person.

Lida Sherafatmand


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