Jealousy vs. Envy

by Reid on May 27, 2013

Jealousy and Envy

In the last article I talked about Jealousy as Asthma and shared how you can identify, avoid, and inoculate against the 8 tentacles/triggers of the Octopus of Jealousy. I also promised to share soon about the difference between Jealousy and Envy, because it can make a BIG difference in relationships.

So here’s the distinction between jealousy and envy. I like to use the analogy of going for ice cream (because, hey, who doesn’t like ice cream?)! (Make it sorbet if you’re lactose intolerant, btw…)

GIF pf dog licking ice cream cone while other dog watches and licks lips

Imagine your partner and your partner’s best friend are going for ice cream. If you’re jealous, you want to replace the friend. You want to have the experience INSTEAD of the friend. You want the friend out of the picture and you in it. Get it? Jealousy is about the people involved.

If you’re envious, you want to go, TOO. You want to have the experience WITH your partner and your partner’s friend, or maybe you want to go for ice cream and whom you go with doesn’t matter as much. Envy is more about the experience.

Envy is jealousy’s kissing cousin. Knowing the difference between the two can help us get our needs met in more powerful ways.

There Isn’t Anything Wrong with Either Jealousy or Envy 

One isn’t “better” or more evolved than the other… They’re both just signals that you have needs that aren’t being met. However, they indicate somewhat different needs. And knowing the difference is super useful. Most of us feel jealousy or envy, or both, at various times. And just like you can be hungry and tired at the same time, you can have different combinations of jealousy and envy.

Notice if you are feeling the need to be the only one in the picture (jealousy) or if you want to be included/want the experience (envy).

Academy Awards photobomb GIF

If you’re feeling envy, ask yourself if it’s the experience they’re having, or being social that you want. Are you envious because they’re eating ice cream and it doesn’t matter so much if you go with your partner or with a friend so long as you get to eat ice cream? You can go get some yourself and fill that need! Or are you envious because they’re hanging out and having social time? What is your need there? What could you ask for or give yourself to feel more grounded and complete? (I recommend Moose Tracks, btw!)

Another example of Envy rearing it’s tentacles might be: I’m envious that my friends are going to the movies — maybe I just want to go to the movies and be entertained ’cause I need to take some down time. Because what I actually need is downtime, it’s less important whether I go with my partner or with a friend. Maybe I just have a need to not be working. Regardless of who I go with, I need a night off. And, juuuuust maybe, what I need is a night off AND some alone time, so going to the movies solo would actually be the most nurturing thing for me to do (Hint, hint to all you workaholics, present company included!).

Or maybe what I need is more quality time with my partner or general social time with people I care about. If I get my quality time needs met in other, non-movie ways with my partner or my friends, then, all of the sudden, them going off to the movies may not be so triggering.

Love and Ease

It’s Not Just a Romance Thing…

Remember, jealousy and envy don’t just exist in romantic relationships! 

Jealousy and envy crop up in business and careers, school, friendships, and inside families.

GIF of woman crushing a cup of soda with her hand

When I teach my Jealousy Workshop to college kids, most of the students show up to figure out how to handle jealousy amongst their peers because they realize jealousy is impeding their performance in their studies, not because of their romantic relationships. Where does jealousy show up in other areas of YOUR life?

Jealousy and envy are complex needs and emotions. It’s not always one tentacle that gets tugged of the 8-Armed Octopus of Jealousy. It is often 2 or 3, a combination of a couple of needs or triggers being struck almost like a musical chord, that sets off your “asthma attack.” If you can identify which of the notes are being played, you can more quickly fill the needs associated/laying underneath each tentacle. Once you begin to take more effective action, you’ll start to feel more confident and empowered in your relationships.

Confidence is often an aspect of self-awareness applied. How well do you know yourself, and how well can you apply that self-knowledge to effect change?

If you’d like to be more empowered around your jealousy and help your relationships feel more like a trip to the ice cream store and less like a trip to the zoo, check out my Battling the 8-Armed Octopus of Jealousy Package today! I want you to have the relationships and the ease you deserve!

Your’s in battling YOUR octopus,


P.S. Did you miss the first article about Jealousy as Asthma? Click here to read it now.

P.P.S. Not quite ready to take the dive into the full Jealousy workshop? No worries. You can get familiar with the 8 Arms of Jealousy with the FREE Jealousy Map! Get your free Jealousy Map here:

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