We've all been there. The moments on our mat when the person next to us is flying in Warrior III and it's everything we can do to keep our balance. Or when the yoga teacher effortlessly bends, chest flat on top of thighs in Paschimottanasana, Seated Forward Bend, and our fingers have yet to make it past our knees.
During yoga class we train to look inside, but our eyes are still (mostly) open. It's natural to keep a tally on your internal chalkboard when you observe where you'd like to be, rather than where you're at. This is healthy, for the most part. Being in a yoga class can inspire and help us to aspire to postures we never thought would be possible for our bodies (or our minds, for that matter!)
The problem is when those innocent mental notes tally up in the name of jealousy.
Envy In The Every Day
Our society wires us for envy. That's the whole point of selling: making something so irresistible that you can't live without it.
How often do you sell yourself short when it comes to your accomplishments and qualities? Do you find yourself saying, "If only I had…" or "I wish I was more like…"? These phrases are envy incognito.
When you're envious or jealous of someone it's because you want what they have. It's not a happy feeling, stewing in our own discontent and becoming resentful because of others' good fortune — even if that good fortune is simply touching one's toes.
Here's the good news: yoga teaches us that because every part of you exists in every part of someone else, you already have — or are capable of having — what you crave.
How To Make Jealousy Work For You
The next time you get jealous, try these three suggestions to turn the negative into a positive.
1. Don't Ignore Jealousy — Get To The Bottom Of It
We tend to be most jealous when someone else embodies a quality that we think we lack, especially when it comes to the physical. For a long time well into my 20s, I suffered from acne and — as strange as this may seem — I envied flawless complexions, especially of my friends who never had to do anything to keep their faces clear.
What was really behind my jealousy? My self-esteem and self-confidence, which I thought hadn't taken a hit until an aesthetician tamed my skin. My desire for a new outward appearance actually shifted, in a big way, my self love. Use your jealousy to transform, rather than crawl deeper into discontent.
Which brings me to…
2. Take Action To Determine What You Really Want
It's too easy to fall into the "life is unfair" trap. As a yogi, you know that the universe is conspiring at every moment to give you exactly what you need. If you really want to embody a quality you admire in others (flexibility, for example), make a commitment to practice yoga every day. If you find the idea cumbersome, then maybe that quality is not as important to you as you thought.
3. Send Love To Others For Their Accomplishments
This is a powerful way to channel the positive of jealousy, rather than the negative. Celebrate others' accomplishments, knowing that when you do you're attracting those same things for yourself: from balancing on one foot to living your dream life.
The key is to stop blaming circumstances and start investigating how you're co-creating those circumstances.
We get jealous and angry when someone else gets a promotion or an opportunity that we feel should have been given to us. But did you really want it? Or could their good fortune actually be a blessing in disguise for you?
If none of these suggestions work, just remember: someone out there would be more than happy to have less than what you have, and be all those things you wish you weren't.