The other week, I learned how to put an end to a long (and unnecessary) streak of jealousy that I had been carrying around for years.
You see, growing up I spent so much time in my head, comparing myself to other people, caught in dark states of jealousy and feelings of resentment toward the people I admired and could never become.
Much like every other women in her mid-20s experiencing an existential crisis, I dove into the world of self-discovery and yoga, and began properly nourishing my body. As a result, I have spent the last few years on spiritual journey focused on developing more compassion for myself and for others. In the process, I realized I wanted to help others do the same.
Fast-forward to now. I host events for women wanting to prioritize self-care, quiet their inner critic and talk about rarely-discussed topics like vulnerability, compassion, shame and guilt. At these events I often monitor the ticket orders as they come in just to keep track of where we are and to learn the names of the attendees.
The week leading up to the last event however, I noticed someone sign up who made my stomach lurch.
Have you ever felt paralyzed when you encounter someone from the past? Someone who may not have done anything to you at all, but simply reminds you of a painful time in your life?
I had never even had a conversation with this woman, but she reminded me of a painful time in my life. From what I had heard, she was as kind, sweet and compassionate as she was beautiful. So I’m even more ashamed to share that when I was in one of the darkest periods in my own life and due to my own insecurities, I held a lot of negative and toxic feelings toward her—feelings that showed up in the worst form of jealousy and resentment.
At my event that day, talking about discovering and embracing our authentic self, I shared one of my takeaways about making amends with people toward whom we have experienced feelings of jealousy or judgement. I believe that these thoughts take up space in our mind, utilize our personal power, and prevent us from feeling like we are worthy of the life we want. (We associate our identity with those less-than-compassionate thoughts, a constant reminder that we are bad, judgmental, dishonest, resentful, angry and jealous people.)
I locked eyes with this particular individual at the moment this takeaway came out of my mouth, and though I tried to avoid it, I knew I had to speak with her at the conclusion of the event.
And I did.
Completely nervous, hands shaking, heart racing, I approached her and asked for 30 seconds of her time. Unsure of how she would respond, I dove straight into it. I shared how, when I was younger, I carried feelings of jealousy and resentment toward her. It was during a time of my life when I was suffering a great deal and wasn’t in a place to hold compassionate thoughts for myself, much less others.
I apologized from the bottom of my heart, and expressed that I had carried a lot of shame and guilt around the false story I held about her in my head.
And how did she respond?
With kindness and compassion of course. She shared that she had experienced the same feelings toward me, and she wanted to apologize as well.
Releasing my own made up and unnecessary jealousy (toward someone I had never shared a conversation with), I felt lighter. As I apologized, her shoulders visibly relaxed as well. And just as I had imagined, she was as kind, sweet and compassionate as I had heard.
Isn’t it awful, how we can place judgements on someone without even knowing who they are or taking the time to learn their story? What’s worse, we carry those feelings toward others like a dark cloud over our head, taking up our own personal power that could be better spent on ourselves and others.
It’s a shame what our own insecurities can do and the stories they cause us to create about others, but they don’t have to keep us feeling sh*tty about ourselves forever. I can assure you, the more you release those feelings of resentment, jealousy, greed you may still carry, the better you’ll feel about yourself and the more you’ll remind others of the good, honesty and compassion within each and every one of us.
So, if you are ready and willing (and if anyone in particular comes to mind while reading this), reach out to someone this week for whom you’ve carried (or still carry) negative feelings, and allow them to do the same.
Author: Sarah Lajeunesse
Image: Suraj Baadkar/Flickr
Editor: Toby Israel