By Maria Lebron, February 2020
The Difference Between Envy and Jealousy
Envy and jealousy are emotions that we all feel at one time or another. Envy and jealousy often overlap, but there is a very important difference. Envy is the feeling we experience when we wish we had someone’s traits, possessions, or advantages. Envy can be a brief feeling and it can work in a positive way to motivate us to obtain for ourselves something we envy in others. While envy is the longing to possess what someone else has, jealousy is the fear of losing something or having someone take away what you have. Unlike envy, jealousy causes someone to feel possessive, suspicious, or anticipate a rivalry.
A jealous person senses competition from everyone they meet because they need to be better than everyone else in order not to feel insecure or inadequate. This creates persistent feelings of jealousy because there will always be people who are smarter, wealthier, funnier, and more popular than you.
Jealousy as a Defense
Having the jealous person focus on the fact that there are people worse off doesn’t have much impact on improving their self-worth because jealousy is a defense which is triggered when anyone causes the jealous person to feel inadequate or insecure. In order not to feel insecure, shame, or worthless, a jealous person may feel the need to try to take away what the other person has, interfere with their ability to succeed, or try to paint them in a bad light to others. In the most extreme situation, a jealous person will try to destroy someone even when the other person isn’t really a threat or competition. In fact, the more confident and well-adjusted the other person is, the more a jealous person may resent that person and want to take away those qualities that a jealous person is unable to feel themselves.
Jealousy and Social Media
Social media can be a positive vehicle for connection, but it can also lead to unhealthy comparisons. It’s easy to feel envy or jealousy when comparing yourself to what is shown on the platform. People present themselves in their best light on social media and can manipulate how others see them. It’s important to remember that no one really knows the truth of a person’s life and what is shown on social media is just a small piece of it.