Are you jealous of other people's success?
How do you feel when you see or hear about the success of others? If you’re anything like me, you probably have some mixed emotions, especially if you’re going through struggles and challenges in your life.
I often find myself excited and inspired by the success of others, especially the people closest to me. However, at the same time, I sometimes notice it can bring up feelings of jealousy, insecurity, and inferiority. Especially when someone accomplishes or experiences something I want myself. Sometimes these feelings come up when I worry I can’t or won’t find that same success.
Have you ever wondered why you get jealous of other people’s success?
Recently I’ve taken a deeper and more honest look at myself in this regard. I’ve always been a competitive person. I often found myself directly or indirectly competing in a pretty intense way with those around me.
Although I’ve outgrown certain aspects of my childhood and adolescent comparison tendencies, I still find myself jealous of other people’s success, as if we’re competing against one another or that their success takes something away from me, which it doesn’t.
Feeling jealous of other people’s success is both understandable and potentially damaging.
Why Are You Jealous of Other People’s Success?
While our cultural obsession with comparison and competition isn’t something new, it seems to have intensified in the past decade or so, with the explosion of social media and how we share photos, highlights, achievements, adventures, milestones and more with one another in such a public and prominent way.
I enjoy being able to celebrate the exciting stuff happening in other people’s lives and share some of my own on social media.
At the same time, it can be a bit of a double-edged sword, depending on how I’m feeling about myself, my work, my body and appearance, my relationships, my future, my family, or anything else. I can easily get triggered by other people’s success and end up feeling bad about myself and my life.
On the flip side, I’ve noticed that I have a tendency, especially with certain people, to brag about my success or even to feel a sense of superiority.
This is even harder to admit and confront.
Feeling both superior and inferior are detrimental to our growth, success and ultimately our sense of peace, fulfillment and joy in life.
So how do we stop comparing ourselves to others?
How to Stop the Comparison Game
The success of others has nothing to do with us, and our success has nothing to do with anyone else. It’s as simple as that.
The only way to stop the comparison game is to stop comparing yourself to others. We are all facing our battles and challenges in life, and success looks different for everyone.
Life is short—so why waste so much of your precious time competing with the people around you and focusing on how you measure up to them?
I’ve had glimpses of this freedom from comparison in my life at various times, although, not as often as I’d like.
Here are a few things to think about and practice, to stop being jealous of other people’s success, and step more into your authentic power:
1) It’s okay to feel jealous
Jealousy isn’t bad, it’s just an emotion and is part of the human experience.
Like with most “negative” emotions, the biggest issue with jealousy is our denial of it. When we pretend we don’t feel jealous, it can harm us in many ways.
The more we deny our feelings of jealousy, the more they end up running us.
When you notice yourself feeling jealous, admit it, feel it, and express it in some healthy and authentic way. Try writing it in your journal, sharing it with a close friend, reflecting on it in meditation or prayer.
Your ability to honestly notice, feel and express your jealousy (or any emotion) is what gives you the power to move through it and transform its potentially negative impact into a positive experience.
2) Look for a deeper message
Have you ever stopped to ask yourself why you feel jealous of other people’s success? When we get threatened by the success of others, there is usually a deeper message coming through that experience.
What if we looked beyond our reaction and beneath our judgment...and asked ourselves some questions like:
“What is it about this person’s success that has me feeling threatened?”
“How can I learn from what I see in them or in what they’ve accomplished?”
“What can I do to let go of my inferior (or superior) reaction to this, and more deeply trust and believe in myself and my process?”
Asking deeper questions like this and looking for the underlying messages in our reactions to the success of others can lead us down a more authentic path of growth, discovery and fulfillment.
3) Celebrate their success
It’s essential to be careful about how harshly you judge other people and their paths to success. The more judgmental you are about them and how they create their success, the more difficult you’ll make it for you to create the success you want, out of your fear of being judged.
Judging the success of others is a smokescreen, masking our own inability to deal with feelings of jealousy, insecurity, or inferiority. What if, instead of doing that (or anything else in a similarly negative, critical, or arrogant way), we celebrated their success and rejoiced in it?
When you see someone succeed, celebrate for them (knowing how exciting it can be when something good happens).
4) Operate from a Place of Abundance
Being so close to people who are creating success in their lives (maybe even the same success we want) can be quite positive, inspiring, and motivating. I know this can be more challenging with certain things or certain people.
However, at the deepest level, when we live from a place of abundance (with the faith that there is more than enough to go around), we free ourselves from the constant stress, worry, fear and pressure associated with living from a place of scarcity.
Like most things in life, this is a choice.
What are some ways you deal with and release your jealousy of other people’s success?
Share your thoughts, action ideas, insights and more here on my blog below.
I have written five books about the importance of trust, authenticity, appreciation and more. In addition, I deliver keynotes and seminars (both in-person and virtually) to empower people, leaders, and teams to grow, connect, and perform their best. Finally, as an expert in teamwork, leadership, and emotional intelligence, I teach techniques that allow people and organizations to be more authentic and effective. Find out more about how I can help you and your team achieve your goals today. You can also listen to my podcast here.
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This article was published on May 15, 2013, and updated for 2021.