One of the emotions I struggle with a lot is jealousy. Specifically, jealousy towards people who don’t have anxiety or depression. People who don’t have a cloud hanging over their head, or don’t fear having a panic attack at an inopportune moment. It’s an incredibly overwhelming feeling, and sometimes I’ve found it to be more upsetting than dealing with these challenges themselves.
It’s natural to feel a bit of jealousy towards people who don’t have to deal with those things. It’s so easy to think to yourself they have everything easier, and how it’s not fair that they face fewer obstacles in their lives. They can effortlessly talk to new people, go about their days relatively care-free, or whatever it is that’s difficult for you to do. No matter what challenges we face, related to mental health or not, we will look at the people who don’t have to deal with those struggles and we compare our lives to theirs.
I’m not going to tell you that you shouldn’t feel this way, or that you’re wrong or selfish for doing so. Not only because I’d be a hypocrite for saying that, but because our feelings are valid and we shouldn’t be ashamed of them. We can’t always control how we feel, but we can reframe those feelings and control how we act. If we let our feelings of jealousy towards people make us bitter, we’re going to act bitter. Bitterness comes out as anger, frustration, and can lead to a lot of hard feelings.
The first, and hardest, step is to reframe your thoughts of jealousy. Why do any of us get jealous? Because someone else has something you want, whether that’s a physical object or something more intangible. It’s not inherently wrong to want something someone else has if it’s not at their expense. But the fact is that things aren’t so black and white.
The way I try to look at it, and the way I encourage you to look at it is that we all have different things in life. Yes, this other person may seem to have their life together without challenges, but maybe you have something they don’t. That same person you’re jealous of maybe is jealous of you. Perhaps something so easy for you to overcome in life is a major obstacle for them. It’s not about comparing who has it worse, but acknowledging that we all have different strengths and weaknesses, and we all face our own challenges.
So yes, it’s ok to feel jealous, it’s ok to wish for something other people have. But that doesn’t mean we have to be bitter or fill ourselves with self-loathing. Nobody is perfect. No life is perfect. We’re all just doing the best with what we have, and that’s all we can ask of ourselves.