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How to Avoid Jealousy and Envy

Winston Churchill explained in his famous quote that, “Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.” In reality, a person’s attitude in life really is all important. Much of my counseling work can center around helping people accept their reality and I aim to help shape the proper attitude. Many, if not most people are guilty of having poor attitudes about themselves, the world, and God. Unfortunately, it is human nature to compare ourselves to others. Jealousy and envy are a toxic combination of anger, insecurity, fear, and greed.

Jealousy is related to desiring what others have and envy centers around resentment of other people’s blessings and prosperity. Both of these are the opposite of love and seek to see another person’s misfortune. The root causes of jealousy and envy are connected to a person’s inability to see what God has provided in their life and a lack of thankfulness. James 3:16 states, “For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.”

Other causes can be the constant comparison with others, low self-esteem, and the desire for status and attention. Risk factors include poor parenting/marriage, lack of intimate friendships, too much time on social media websites, and lack of intimacy with God.

The first step to overcoming the pitfalls of jealousy and envy is to not be ignorant that it exists in most if not all people. A person has to humble themselves to the fact that this sin is within their hearts and ask God to reveal their motivations and feelings. After confessing this sinful attitude to Christ, a person can begin the process of change through these other 5 steps:

  1. Demonstrate Gratitude in Life – Reading the Psalms and turning them into personal prayers can be a good place to go in the Bible. Reflect on the areas that you have been blessed in life and give thanks several times a day for the ordinary things that you often take for granted.
  2. Avoid Activities that Encourage Comparison – Minimize your time around negative people, social media, and places that involve gossip/drama related talk. Websites like Facebook often give the impression that people have perfect lives.
  3. Focus a Life on Jesus – God judges the heart of a person. He does not judge the outside appearance, amount of money, or accomplishments. Yet, most of a person’s jealousy and envy is related to things that God could care very little about. A person can gain peace in their heart when they are living their life to please God and feeling grateful that God has saved them from their own issues. Romans 5:8 says, “But God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
  4. Win the Interpersonal Battle – Become analytical in asking questions about why you become envious and jealous of others. Talk to a professional or someone you trust to try and understand the underlying issues or past memories in which these behaviors began. Uncovering these root issues can help a person learn to overcome and release them.
  5. Pray and Grow – Prayer is essential in communicating our thoughts with God. Each person is given different skills, talents, and abilities. True growth comes from understanding what these are and utilizing them to serve something other than yourself.

Michael Linn is a Licensed Professional Counselor in the state of Pennsylvania and a Nationally Certified Counselor. He is the owner of Resolute Counseling, located in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania.  He can be reached by calling 717-264-0450 or visiting www.resolutecounseling.com

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