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Jealousy: The Ugly Emotion Known as the Green-Eyed Monster

Why did Cain kill Able?

According to the Bible, the cause of the murder had nothing to do with anything Able did except Cain was jealous because God favored Able, which gave rise to the green-eyed monster or what the Orientals call "Mankind's greatest flaw" that leads to recklessness and bad mindedness in the one who envies and possessiveness in the envied - a poisonous snake around your ankle.

A falling out between siblings and family members and friends always seems to be about envy - making an otherwise good and loving relative want to destroy a rival and themselves in the process because they are favored by a parent.

I wrote in a previous column about people who win the lottery getting poisoned and hated for their good fortune. Maybe siblings don't mind their brothers and sisters succeeding, each of us just wants to be a little better off than the rest of them. We would much rather be the cousin that is bombarded with appeals for help than the one asking for the loan.

According to Eric Berne, those who feel like they are in a one down position lie in wait until the person who they feel jealous fails, giving them sweet revenge. "Now i got you, you SOB! What right do did you have being better off than me?" They shout it from the rooftops: "How low the mighty has fallen!"

According to the dictionary, envy is a feeling of discontented or resentful longing aroused by someone else's possessions, qualities, luck, painful or resentful awareness of an advantage enjoyed by another, joined with a desire to possess the same advantage. When you want what someone else has, a covetous feeling arises toward another person's attributes, possessions, or status.

Envy is triggered when you believe you are short-changed in someway and will go to great lengths to overcome your inadequacies. So, this can be accomplished by cutting those that are better off down to size, put them down in some way, putting them in their place, or work hard to bring yourself up so you will no longer feel inferior. We need to feel some perceived level of success or at least to measure up. Of course, it is much easier to bring the target of your envy down than to elevate yourself.

When envy is triggered and you become unhappy, you will likely feel hatred toward the object of your envy and disappointment within yourself but also motivated to compensate or eliminate the source of your envy to level the playing field.

Is your attraction, high regard, and admiration for someone an idealization of their desired qualities or possessions activating envy? Do you suspect that what you want (wealth, education, talent, status, cars, and material possessions) can be had from associating with them so at least hope that some of it will rub off on you and bring you happiness and fulfillment? Sounds like a formula for happiness.

According to "Envy: The Emotion Kept Secret" in Psychology Today (March 15, 2011): "Your ideal self is what you aspire to be; the best that you think you could or should be, and often this ideal comes from social comparisons. Your sense of self is constantly measuring itself against your ideals and coming to various conclusions. If you measure up, you feel good, excited, and even elated. If you don't measure up, you may feel depressed, or ashamed. Self-esteem is determined to a great degree by your own comparison of your sense of self to your ideal self. However, it is sometimes easier to project that ideal onto someone else in the form of envy.

The values against which your self is measured are likely to change as you mature and as you learn to evaluate your potentialities and accept your limitations, If you have realistic ideals and can generally live up to them, your self-esteem will not be threatened. If your ideals are exaggerated and you cannot reach them, your good feelings from successes may be short lived and you may feel that you are never good enough and will envy others."

So, when you envy someone else, you are giving them a compliment. Maybe we are all guilty of envy, calling it "keeping up with the Jones." In the final analysis, we probably all want to be smug about how others view us with a little envy - maybe not enough to encourage assault and battery as we flaunt and show off spouses, successful children, cars, boats, airplanes, big houses, makeovers, and clothes.

Don't compare yourself to anyone. You are incomparable!

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