Jealousy and competition

This is where I wished my knowledge of yogic philosophy was greater because I could quote a passage or two from the yoga sutras or the bhagavad gita and show how it’s relevant to my everyday life. Alas this post is more of a question asked to the internet ether than any kind of philosophical revelation. I’m young, forgive me! I’ll learn.

I’m not usually a jealous person. Growing up I was very rarely envious of other kid’s possessions or friends or clothes or anything like that. I was brought up comfortable enough and my parents are kind and supportive. Still these things don’t always guard against envy. It seems to be in human nature to think the grass is greener, to always want more. I was much more accepting of what I had. I discovered that if you accepted what you had you were much happier. Oh wise child, I have so much to learn.

Also, and I think this is crucial, I was not competitive at all. I hated competition. Competitive sports I was terrible at anyway so I just accepted that. It was ok, because I was clever. In academic subjects I was always at the top of the class. I was curious and a quick learner, so I did well academically at school. But it’s lonely being “at the top” in your class. I was labelled the “clever one” and I wasn’t treated the same as the other kids. One teacher actually would goad me whenever I couldn’t answer a question or got something wrong. “I thought you were meant to be clever” he’d sneer. (postscript: he was fired some years later for hitting a child)

So all this meant that since I was so far ahead (or far behind in terms of sports) I had no one to ‘compete’ with. So I learnt my own rules to beat. I became a very good critic of my work, ultimately not really caring what my friends or teachers or even parents thought. I’m a sort of lazy perfectionist. It’s good and bad, good for bloody-minded motivation but bad for days when I can’t do anything ‘right’.

So I’m not competitive. A benefit in yoga, I couldn’t care less how far that person to the left of me is stretching. I rarely get jealous. But yesterday: I got jealous.

A painter has appeared on the scene who does very realistic oil portraits. She does idealised versions of women and politicians. Undoubtedly they take a lot of work and I admire her for that, even if the paintings are not my style. She’s had a lot of success and recognition and I was fine with that until I learned one thing: she’s my age. And she has a child.

The jealous monster reared its head. How can she have the time? Why is she so successful? Will anyone ever take me as seriously as her? Her paintings are so polished and mine are so scruffy. How can she earn so much money from ONE painting?? On and on my mind went. So how do I deal with this jealousy? How can I stop it eroding my sense of confidence in my painting and my life?

In the past the way I dealt with jealousy was, if for example someone of my age was better at playing the violin than I was I would think: that’s ok, because I’m better at writing poetry than they are. And vice versa. So by that pattern I could think: Ok this woman is more successful than me but I’m thinner.

That’s not very enlightened.

Ultimately I think I have to accept that we can live side by side. That she’s not done anything to hurt me. I have to have the strength to live my life and let her live hers. May she be safe, may she be happy, may she be healthy, may she live with ease.

Same to me too for suffering so! Jealousy is exhausting.




6 thoughts on “Jealousy and competition

  1. Easier said than done, of course, but maybe you could see her success as an inspiration? Proof that you can achieve so much at a young age? Even if you’re the same age, it doesn’t mean that in 5 years (or less) you won’t have caught up!

    It’s tough, though. Jealousy definitely is a human trait. 🙂

    • You know, I’ve never thought of that! I find it hard to look up to people. I’ve got high standards, maybe they’re too high! The strange thing is I don’t actually want her success, I want success on my terms. I’ve just got to grow up and deal I think!
      I know, I’m guessing I’m not the only one suffering from the green-eyed monster!

    • I honestly can’t get your meaning! Is this a master stroke of sarcasm?!
      My mother tells me I’m as sarcastic as the irish nuns at her convent school (just in case you’re not familiar with irish nuns, that means I’m very)

      • evidently not so “master” a stroke, lol!

        oh, i grew up knowing quite a few nuns, but never lifted my young hispanic eyes up enough to see or know if they were irish 😉

      • Sarcasm is so hard to detect on the internet and it’s a bit of a revelation for me that Americans can be sarcastic! Otherwise I never would have had any doubt.
        I’ve only ever known nice nuns thank goodness.

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