Carolyn’s Online Magazine (#COMe)
GREEN-EYED MONSTER OR ENVY?
The WordPress writing prompt for May 15, 2015, requested writing an anonymous letter to someone I’m jealous of.
I’m pretty satisfied with my life at this time, a fact that leaves me with no one to be jealous of. However, I do envy some persons—those who can keep a neat house, those who can maintain an ordered life, those who can sing or speak a foreign language, those who have completed their first novel (to rave reviews)…
Which brings me to a salient point: just what is the difference between jealousy and envy? Is there a critical distinction? Is what I’m calling envy truly jealousy?
My writing experience tells me that which word I opt for is important.
Thus, before I continue I must decide if I’m envious or if I’m jealous.
My first reference states that
- envy is the emotion when you want a possession someone else has… to bear a grudge toward someone due to coveting what that person has or enjoys… the longing for something someone else has without any ill will intended toward that person (you envy possessions or a situation)
- jealousy is the emotion when you fear you may be replaced in the affection of someone you love or desire…apprehensive or vengeful out of fear of being replaced by someone else (your jealousy involves relationship)
My second reference suggests that if you ask ten people what the difference is between envy and jealousy you might receive ten different views on how they distinct.
Psychologists, however, agree on a fairly straightforward distinction:
- envy occurs when we lack a desired attribute enjoyed by another…it is a reaction to lacking something: it is a two-person situation.
- jealousy occurs when something we already possess (usually a special relationship) is threatened by a third person…a reaction to the threat of losing something (usually someone)…involves a sense of betrayal and resultant outrage: it is a three-person situation.
The confusion between the emotions of envy and jealousy occurs because
- there is an ambiguity with the word jealous that creates a sense that jealousy and envy are very similar
- a person feeling jealousy often also feels envy
Third, from a Biblical point of view—envy and jealousy are issues of the heart:
- envy is anger turned inward for something you desire that someone else has (status, possessions, power, or wealth); ingratitude for what someone already has
- jealousy is a form of fear or suspicion of, an anger or mistrust at, a rival or a person who is more successful and is competing with what they love or desire
The question remains: Am I envious or jealous concerning those who can keep a neat house, those who can maintain an ordered life, those who have completed their first novel (to rave reviews)…
To decide, I’ll take the following quiz:
a. Do I long for something someone else has without any ill will intended toward that person… or
b. Do I fear I may be replaced in the affection of someone I love or desire?
a. Am I reacting to lacking something someone else has or
b. Am I reacting with a sense of betrayal and resultant outrage to the threat of losing something (usually someone)?
a. Is my anger turned inward for something I desire that someone else has or
b. Is my anger turned outward at a rival or a person who is more successful than I am, and is competing with me for what they love or desire?
My answer to all three questions is a. Therefore, I think I’m on the correct track when I conclude that I’m envious rather than jealous.
The May 15th WordPress prompt is a repeat of the August 3, 2013 prompt. My response to the prompt hasn’t changed (I still haven’t finished the first draft of my novel), so I’ll reference the letter written almost two years ago:
Dear Sal, Chuck, Joe, Joanne, Kathleen (did I miss anyone?):
I want to tell you how much you bring out the green shades of my eyes because you have one or more books in print, books you can pick up and have tactile sensory perception with. Books with words that others read with interest.
My first draft isn’t even complete. It’s been a long time of overcoming challenges and trying to (continue reading this letter at WP Challenge: Green-eyed Monster Over Unfinished Novel, then read Updates on My Novel-Under-Construction.