Jealousy is nothing more than an expression of fear and an acknowledgment of vulnerability. It’s the fear that we aren’t enough, that someone else may be “more” in some way; it’s the fear that something or someone we cherish can be taken from us. These are human fears and insecurities, and they’re normal, but the way this emotion manifests itself tends to lead to unhealthy thinking and behavior.
Yoga is a practice of coming home to yourself. It’s a process of dropping anything you may have taken on that really doesn’t belong to you, like ideas about yourself or other people, or the world at large, or ways of being that aren’t serving you. It’s a daily choice to tune in and see what’s happening within you, to look at your raw, sometimes jagged places with compassion, patience and honesty, and to be accountable when your fears get the better of you.
When I started practicing yoga at twenty, I had very low self-esteem. I was often anxious or depressed, I had frequent, intense, debilitating migraines, disordered eating, and poor body image. When I entered relationships, I never put myself, or my needs or wants into the equation, I focused solely on the other person, and tried to figure out how I could be “perfect” or indispensable so that I would not have to worry about being betrayed or abandoned. Guess what happens when you enter relationships that way, with a sense that you are broken, or somehow not enough, and that your job is to bend over backwards to manipulate the outcome you want? They don’t go very well!
Here are three observations about how yoga helps you overcome jealousy for good:
1. You learn to love, honor and value yourself.
There are seven billion people on this planet, but only one you. No one else can ever be you, and that is incredible and amazing. Once you understand that, you won’t worry about not being enough. You won’t come from a place of lack and fear, instead, you will understand that you are unique, valuable, precious. This is something that happens over time, as you show up on your mat every day, and start responding to your body with care and consideration. It could be that right now, you aren’t very kind to your body. Maybe you have terrible thoughts about it, but the truth is, your body is your home, it’s where you live. Yoga is a listening practice. You listen with curiosity, your respond with kindness. Over time, that caring about yourself will follow you off your mat.
2. You start to recognize the folly of control.
You will never get what you want by forcing. If you force poses on your mat, you’re going to get hurt. If you force situations in your life, guess what? You’re going to get hurt. True love is never the result of force, manipulation, or an unwillingness to see and accept reality as it is. You might start your practice by forcing poses, or making it all about whether you can do tricky arm balances and inversions, but over time, you will understand it’s not about the poses, it’s about your process. It’s not about how it looks, it’s about how it feels. If it feels “off”, you’ll back off. Once you grasp in your body that forcing things leads to injury, you’ll stop doing that in your life as well. If you are so insecure in your relationship with yourself and other people, romantic partners, close friends and so on, you’ll begin to understand that you need to explore the source of your feelings that you don’t measure up, rather than acting them out all over the place.
3. Sometimes we’re feeling jealous because a friend is achieving success that we want.
That’s such an awful feeling, when you cannot be happy for someone else’s good fortune. When that happens for you, the best thing to do is to get that person in your mind, and wish them well. Their success has nothing to do with you, it will not prevent you from succeeding, because no one can take up your place in the sun. No one else is you. Sometimes jealousy rears its head in romantic relationships, where one partner is checking the other’s texts, emails, pockets. This is death for a relationship. Every time you do something like that, you hammer another nail in the coffin. If there’s no trust, it will never, ever work. If you always pick partners who cheat on you, that’s on you. You are going to have to figure out what that pattern is about, and why you’re attracted to people who seem untrustworthy, because there are always flags. Why are you driving by those flags with your arms and legs and heart open? Because you are not valuing yourself. Yoga is a system of getting real with yourself. At a certain point, we all get to a place where we say “enough!” If you are not happy, then your work is to figure out why that is, because your job here is to shine. “Svadhyaya” means self-study. The willingness to understand what’s driving you, so you can go forward making different and better choices.
Yoga is not about standing on your head, or having the most open hamstrings. It’s about understanding that you are a unique strand in a gorgeous mystery, a valuable participant in a huge story, a shining light once you uncover your joy, and the purveyor of gifts only you can bring to this world. Once you get that, you will never be jealous again.
Wishing that for you, and sending you love,
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