Jealousy – Dictionary.com – “feeling resentment against someone because of that person’s rivalry, success, or advantage”, “feeling resentment because of another’s success, advantage, etc.”, “characterized by or proceeding from suspicious fears or envious resentment.”
Envy – Dictionary.com –” a feeling of discontented or resentful longing aroused by someone else’s possessions, qualities or luck.”
Sloth – Dictionary.com – “reluctance to work or make an effort, laziness.”
I would be willing to bet that if you were honest with yourself, that you have felt all of these feelings at some time or another, I know that I have.
I can tell you that when I was young, I was a master “Merlin of jealousy.” I was an only child with a single mom as a parent. My folks had separated when I was very young, and I only had my mom to care for me until she remarried. Unfortunately, this made me very insecure. I would guard my mom like a junk yard dog looking for a steak. I would set up a “mental perimeter” to ensure that no one got near my mom, because she was MINE.
When you are young, your parents are the center of your universe. You believe everything they have to say as if it were the “gospel.” This is why I do not like to hear parents saying things that they know are not true to a child just for laughs. This excludes Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth fairy to name a few. Parents get a “pass” for these folks.
One joke that stuck with me was my dad’s. My dad used to tell me if I swallowed a watermelon seed that I would get pregnant! True story. As an adult, I realize this was not true. However, to this day, I will not swallow watermelon seeds. Not even the little non-ripe, white ones!
Jealousy will make you do crazy and irrational things. I was such a fierce protector of my mother’s affections and attention that I could get a bit nuts when other kids were around my mom. These little “attention seeking pods” (other children) would prey upon my mother for her affections. This was not acceptable to me.
When I was young, we lived in a small condo in Atlanta and had a neighbor with a daughter named Whitney. She was a few years younger than me and cute as a button to everyone, except me. That little witch would come over to my house and climb into my mom’s lap for hugs. I would grit my teeth as I watched MY mom hug and snuggle this little Medusa. Whitney would put on that fake little “cute face” with the big round eyes and my mother was spellbound. That little shit nugget could get my mom to do things for her that she would not do for me, like an extra cookie!
Every time I heard that little traitors name, my “back would get up.” I can not tell you how many scenarios I devised in my evil brain to rid myself of this “attention stealing monster.” Whitney was like an “attention abyss.” You could hug her until her skin fell off and she would just shift her weight to another cheek. Needless to say, I could not stand this kid. In my little mind, she was trying to steal my mother and I was having none of it!
My mother was taking those stupid reverse psychology classes during this time. She said it was good for me to see her hugs other kids to help me not be so jealous. Let me tell you something, that is straight up horse caca! It only made me seethe in my seat, while my brain was plotting on ways to torment Whitney, in retaliation, when the adults were not paying attention. My jealousy got so bad that I quit playing with her altogether. Hey, I was five.
Envy is not much better. Have you ever been envious of someone else? If you said no, then you are fooling yourself. Everyone gets a “twinge” of envy from time to time.
I have witnessed what I thought were some well-adjusted adults go nuts on certain subjects that show how envious they are about something. This usually involved money, fame or power.
I have known people that are so envious of someone else that they actually talk badly about them. I have heard people say things like, “she is so lucky to live in that house and she does not even work” or “her new car is really nice, I bet her parents bought it for her.” Really, do you hear yourself? Statements like these only serve to make you look petty.
I equate sloth to most teenagers. It is a right of passage for them. With raging hormones, hair growing in odd places and a body morphing into an adult requires lots of sleep. I remember my teenage friends bragging about how many hours that could sleep in one day. Why is this an accomplishment?
As an adult sloth, you have no excuse. Being lazy is very time consuming and can annoy the crap out of the people that live with you. Being lazy also has a best friend named “procrastination.” The combination of these can really stress you out and make you feel like you can’t accomplish anything. I am not saying do not take rest breaks or naps, I am saying do not do it all the time!
So, what do the “professionals” have to say about jealousy, envy and sloth?
In a Psychology Today article, Dr. Paul Holinger, MD stated that babies are born with nine basic feelings. Interest, Enjoyment, Surprise, Distress, Anger, Fear, Shame, Disgust (a reaction to noxious tastes) and Dissmell (a reaction to noxious odors).
Another research article, from jmu.edu, suggests there are eight primary emotions. Anger, Sadness, Fear, Joy, Interest, Surprise, Disgust and Shame.
Further research showed basically the same results as the two mentioned by these sources. Nowhere in my research did I find that jealousy, envy or sloth mentioned as a “primary emotion.”
What does this mean? It means that all of the feelings are “learned.” We do not land on the planet with any of these emotions. We are taught!
If these emotions are truly taught, then they can be “un-taught.” Do you remember the first times you felt one of these three emotions? Do you remember who taught you to be jealous, envious or “slothy”? Was it a parent or a relative? Think about it. It matters.
As kids, we mimic behaviors we observe from adults to “see how they fit.” Kids will “try out” certain behaviors to see if this is how they want to act when they get older. This is when kids are taught both positive and negative behaviors, including jealousy, envy and sloth. The kids are taught by us, what they see on TV and video games and commercials. It is our job to teach them what is acceptable behavior and what is not.
I am not here to tell you how to do this though. I am here to bring it to your attention.
So, when you feel the upcoming onslaught of jealousy or envy, think before you speak. Ask yourself, why is this causing me to be so nasty? The answer may surprise you. How does one person’s success cause you to feel so cheated? As my mom would always say when people were jealous, “who made you the judge and jury?”
By the way, if any of you run into that “attention hogging, little troll, turd bucket” of a girl, Whitney, tell her I said hi.