The Fear and Shame in Jealousy

Below is Robin Lovett’s honest confession about how she deals with this week’s topic: jealousy. Also check out Alexis Daria’s post on it.

My CP got an agent! A contract! An award! A big advance! I’m thrilled and excited for them. We celebrate, go out for drinks, plan what comes next on their big journey.

 movie film friends girls party GIF

This has happened to a lot of my writing friends in the last two years, and even though I too have had my achievements, I always experience something awful in the midst of their celebration.

I get jealous. I compare myself to their success. I find some way—often convoluted and rarely logical—to believe their successes are greater than mine.

 season 1 muppets 1x03 the muppets kermit GIFIt stems from a long time, childhood based habit of always needing to be THEE BEST at whatever I’m doing. If I don’t see myself as the best, I feel like a loser, less of a person, like I don’t matter and that somehow I’m going to fade into obscurity.

Ultimately, it is an experience of fear.

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Fear that if I’m not the best, no one will care about me anymore. That I will lose everyone and everything. I will be abandoned and alone.

The source of this fear is based in childhood issues for which I’m in extensive therapy. It’s not logical. I know this. But it doesn’t change that I feel insane jealousy at inappropriate times.

It’s a problem. Sometimes big, sometimes small, depending on the situation. I worry my friends will find out, that I won’t cover it up well enough. I worry it will endanger my relationships which are so important.

Because the truth is, what will lose me friendships is not about whether I achieve things or not. It’s if I selfishly make their achievements about myself and my fears. Being honest about it is hard and scary. I lost many friendships to it when I was young because I didn’t know how to handle it.

But I’ll be damned if I lose writer friends for it now!

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So here’s how I’ve learned to talk myself down from jealousy when it rears its ugly head.

Recognize the jealousy.

Feelings don’t go away by suppressing them. They get worse. If I feel jealousy, I have to know it and acknowledge it. It’s a terrible feeling but when it comes, I call it like it is: this is jealousy.

Remind myself to be happy for my friend.

In the moment, I need to put my jealousy aside and remember to rejoice with my friends. I focus on their excitement, notice their joy and try to encourage them to feel it and revel in it—since basking in success in the face of the new stress can be difficult.

Take a moment for myself.

After talking to that friend, I take time to myself to cope with my jealousy. This goes along with what Kimberly Kincaid and Avery Flynn said in the workshop Alexis Daria and I attended. I retreat from social media and go do battle with my jealousy on my own.

Notice the irrationality of it.

Since my jealousy stems so much from my own feelings of inadequacy, I force myself to look at the truth of the situation. Their success does not negatively impact me in any way. It’s not diminishing my successes or inhibiting my success in the future. It does not effect my self-worth in any way, and it will not weaken our friendship—unless I let it.

Confess it.

This is the hard part for me that I’m not very good at. Kimberly Kincaid and Avery Flynn talked about it a lot in their workshop. They said to tell our friends about feeling jealous. That it’s okay to feel jealous and let your friends know that it’s happening.
It’s hard for me to do because in truth, I feel ashamed of being jealousy.

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I belittle myself for experiencing it. And that is something I need to work on too.

Fear is a normal part of the human condition. It stems from our need to survive, and Alexis Daria is right, when used for good, jealousy can be a great motivator toward our own goals. Recognizing a desire to achieve something can give us a carrot to work toward, a hope that we too can achieve this.

Crazy Ex-GIFs dance happy celebrate yay GIF

I’m looking forward to our chat about jealousy on Sunday. I’m hoping other people will feel free to confess their own experiences with it. There’s no medicine for difficult feelings like finding our we’re not alone.

Lovett headshot touchupRobin Lovett’s dark romance series releases this summer, starting with STRANGER, A DARK STALKER ROMANCE on June 13th through SMP Swerve. She is a co-host of #RWChat, where you can check out her weekly posts. She writes a monthly romance writing column on DIY MFA and can be happily reached on Twitter @LovettRomance, so don’t be shy! Discussion welcome 🙂 She is represented by Rachel Brooks of the L. Perkins agency.

2 thoughts on “The Fear and Shame in Jealousy

  1. Diana Lloyd says:

    How timely! I just went through this with my critique partner. We both entered RWA’s Golden Heart contest. I finalled, she didn’t. I thought I sensed a little snark in her subsequent emails. Wasn’t sure if it was real or I was just imagining it because I felt guilty. One month later, she got an offer of representation and I didn’t. Oh, shoe on other foot! I wrote her a congratulatory email. She asked me if something was wrong. Yup, she sensed an undertone of jealousy and she felt guilty. Thank goodness we communicated and talked it out. I’m happy for her and she’s happy for me. What is the deal about feeling guilty when something good happens to you? Is it tied in to the pang of jealousy? Weird.


    • Robin Lovett says:

      It’s so scary how jealousy can come btw us especially when we don’t talk about it. We #rwchat hosts chat together all the time about how challenging it is to enjoy our success. Maybe we’ll do a chat on it sometime!


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