View all Ask a Priest |
“Ask a Priest: What Can I Do About Feelings of Jealousy?”
Q: I have a habit of constantly comparing myself and my life with others. I will feel happy if I feel like I am better than someone else, and I feel sad and sometimes even depressed when I feel other people’s lives are better than mine. I had to delete myself from social media because it would give me anxiety and cause me to get slightly depressed when someone posted something great in their life, such as a nice vacation or a happy family photo. This is when I will begin comparing everything in my life, such as my job, my husband, even my child, to other people’s husbands, jobs, and children. I myself feeling jealous a lot lately and then I have to constantly remind myself what I am grateful for in order for the jealous emotions to leave my thoughts. I know this sounds like I’m an evil person, but I really want to change this about myself. – J.
Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC
A: It is good that you want to change this part of yourself. Left unchecked, jealousy and envy can eat away at you and be a constant source of anxiety.
The basic root sin here seems to be vanity. You are putting more emphasis on the opinion of others than on God. The root of this is insecurity. You think that the good qualities of others will somehow tear you down.
You already know part of the solution: Cultivate a spirit of gratitude. You probably already have a lot more than most people in the world, if you give it a moment’s thought. You are probably living in relative security and comfort, not worried about your next meal.
A few other steps might help.
First, learn to shift your attention whenever an envious thought starts to arise. Pray a Hail Mary, offer a little “thank you” to God for something. Don’t wrestle with the envious thought; you will only get more entangled in it.
Second, cultivate a sense that all people are your brothers and sisters, and remind yourself that all good things come from God. When you see good things in others, give praise to God. Those good qualities enrich all of us.
Third, and this depends on what you notice in others, try to see them as models to imitate. If you see someone who is kind, try to imitate her. If you see someone who is humble, do the same. See these people as part of God’s gift to you. Their presence can lift your life.
Fourth, remember what Jesus has done for you. He suffered and died a terrible death to redeem you. What he is hoping for in return is your love and your desire for holiness. You might want to go deeper in your personal prayer life, in developing a daily “God-time,” for example. The truth is, you are already loved and valued infinitely by God, and discovering that truth in prayer is the long-term solution to your insecurity.
Last but not least, pray for the grace of thinking well of others.
Keep learning more with Ask a Priest
Got a question? Need an answer?
Today’s secular world throws curve balls at us all the time. AskACatholicPriest is a Q&A feature that anyone can use. Just type in your question or send an email to AskAPriest@rcspirituality.org and you will get a personal response back from one of our priests at RCSpirituality. You can ask about anything – liturgy, prayer, moral questions, current events… Our goal is simply to provide a trustworthy forum for dependable Catholic guidance and information. So go ahead and ask your question…