Here’s a recent email I got from a teen. Thought I’d share it since jealousy between friends comes up a lot.
My friend makes me really jealous. She has lots of friends who all adore her, a happy family and brains. Even though I am more successful than her at schoolwork I am not doing so good on the friend side. I try not to focus on her life but it seems to be exactly what I’m always doing. Everytime I feel like I’ve achieved something she seems to step in and tell me all about her great trip into town with this boy I like and how she hangs out with all these cool people and it makes me feel horrible. I really don’t want it to get to me because if I let something fester it makes me depressed. Please help!
Green with Envy
I can understand why you might believe that your friend has a perfect life. She may not have the same challenges as you, but trust me, she’s got some. Otherwise no way would she be stepping on your achievements by bragging about all the cool things she does.
This comes down to your definition of a “real” friend. A real friend celebrates your wins. A real friend wants you to succeed. When your friend tries to shift the focus from you to her, she shows that she is a) insecure and/or b) jealous of you and/or c) completely clueless about her annoying habit of stealing the spotlight. Does that sound like someone who’s got it all together?
You say “I really don’t want it to get to me” so don’t let it. Jealousy isn’t a terminal illness. There is a cure!
It starts with examining some of your assumptions. Like this one: “I am not doing so good on the friend side.” In other words, “I assume that people don’t like me as much as they like her.” There are no hard facts here, just the decisions you make based on your assumptions and beliefs. To release the jealousy, you need to de-construct the assumption. Ready to try? Then answer these questions:
- Where did the assumption “People don’t like me as much as they like her” come from? You weren’t born believing this. When did you start and why?
- How does that assumption help you? For example, assuming that “People don’t like me…” might protect you from getting rejected. That could be helpful in a way. You’d stay “safe” because you wouldn’t put yourself out there socially. (“They don’t like me, so what’s the point?”)
- How might that assumption cause problems? “Since ’People don’t like me’ I withdraw and they think I’m not friendly so I get left out of stuff.” Does that happen to you?
- What if that assumption were WRONG? If people really do like you, how would your behavior be different? Would you let go and be yourself more? Have more fun?
- Do you want to hold on to your assumption? You have the power to do that, you know. Don’t need anyone’s permission.
Green, it’s your life. If you decide to hold on to the assumption, then know that it’s your doing, not something that your friend is doing to you.