That new karate student who learns everything so quickly! That martial artist who ALWAYS beats us, at EVERY tournament, in EVERY division!!
No one likes to talk about it. But that’s part of what gives jealousy so much power.
When we’re jealous of someone, we typically do two things:
1) We obsess about the person. All of our thoughts are consumed by how annoyingly awesome this person is. We think about them ALL THE TIME. We talk to other people about them ALL THE TIME. We practically stalk this person, absorbing their every annoying move. We lurk on their social media accounts. We become fixated on every detail of their super annoyingly perfect lives.
2) We try to rationalize ourselves out of it. We tell ourselves we’re not really jealous; it doesn’t bug us AT ALL. Or we justify all the reasons why our lives aren’t as great as theirs—we’re too busy, have too many responsibilities, don’t have time for that six pack they keep showing off, don’t have the luxury of training as much as they seem to be able to. Their lives are so much easier; they sleep like BABIES; they have ALL THE TIME IN THE WORLD; it’s no WONDER they kick ass!!
We obsess… and we deny… and we rationalize. Around and around and around.
Meanwhile our stomachs drop every time that person walks in the dojo. When they perform the perfect kata. When they beat us at sparring. When they have the nerve to just exist.
They’re better than us, and everyone at the dojo knows it, and we feel like flecks of dirt on the bottom of their perfectly muscled feet.
The thing is… they might actually BE better than us. But, everything we’re doing gives more power to that jealousy. The more we focus on that jealousy—by obsessing about it, or trying to psychoanalyze ourselves out of it—the more powerful that jealousy becomes. We’ve made it A Thing in our lives.
So: how to fix it?
I have found a super simple solution for this: Focus on the thing I’m actually jealous of—not the jealousy itself, not the feeling itself—the thing that bugs me. And then own it.
Here’s how it looks. I was at the grocery store several years ago. The cashier was this really good-looking woman; great hair, makeup, clothes, body, you name it. And my competitive instincts kicked in, and I started making all sorts of assumptions about her in my head. She’s a bitch. She’s arrogant. She thinks she’s better than me. On and on.
And then I thought: Stop. I don’t want to be consumed by this kind of thinking. So here’s what I did:
As I paid for my items, I looked at her evenly and said: “Your eye makeup looks really beautiful.”
Exactly like that.
The transformation in her—and the transformation in me—was awesome.
Her whole face softened. Her whole demeanour changed. Her resting bitch face was suddenly gone, and she was glowing. As I left the store, I could still see her smiling to herself, totally oblivious to everyone around here. Just enjoying that unexpected gift I had given her. Feeling grateful and special in that moment. And the cool thing? I did that. I gave her that gift.
And I meant what I said. Her eye makeup did look beautiful. I just decided to say it out loud, and that jealousy dissolved instantly. In that moment I took all of its power away: by simply focusing on the thing I was jealous of—rather than the jealousy itself—and turning it into something I admired, and then declaring it publicly.
This is transformational stuff.
Jealousy and admiration are flip sides of the same coin. I chose to flip the coin that day. And I realized how powerful that was. I started to use this skill again and again, anytime that feeling came up. “Wow, you’re in awesome shape! Your body is amazing!” Or “Hey, your kata looked so good just now! I’m impressed.”
And the interesting thing about this process is, in saying what we envy out loud, and turning it into a compliment, it’s no longer our dirty little secret that has such a strong hold on us. It becomes a gift we give away. And in so doing we turn that jealousy into admiration.
There are going to be martial artists who are better than us. But if we can accept that, and own that, we can transform that seeming power inequity into something positive and inspiring.
“She’s better than me and I can’t stand it!” becomes “You are awesome. And I’m inspired by you. And I can learn from you.”
And hey, YOU are awesome. Thank you for reading and following! I really appreciate you. 🙂
Check out some of my articles on performance and competition: