If you have stumbled upon this guide, chances are you recently had an uncomfortable interaction with someone who showed jealousy towards you and now you want to know exactly how to handle such jealous people.
Maybe you mentioned something about your progress or an achievement, or just how well things have been going for you lately, and all of a sudden you could smell hints of jealousy from them. It may be their expression or lack thereof, or their indirect comments that made you feel uncomfortable.
The fact is, we all, at some point, have not just faced jealous people but also experienced some emotions of jealousy or envy within ourselves as well, even if it’s in its mildest form. So it’s a common and somewhat relatable emotion.
In this guide, we’ll look into the Psychology of Jealousy. What exactly goes on in a jealous person’s mind. And then, based on that psychological analysis, we’ll look into 8 effective ways to help you deal with jealous and envious people while being able to handle such uncomfortable interactions proactively.
Envy Vs. Jealousy
Envy and jealousy are closely related terms.
Envy is when you want something that someone else has.
Jealousy is when a person is insecure or afraid that someone might be better than them and might take something away from them.
For example, Tom wants to be acknowledged and be the center of attention in a gathering, but someone comes who might be drawing people’s attention more than Tom. Tom might feel as if that person is taking people’s attention away from him.
In Tom’s mind, his sense of worth is getting threatened by the presence of this newcomer, even though this person might not have done anything against Tom.
Since these two emotions are closely related in terms of the psychology behind them, this guide is useful for both, how to deal with jealous AND envious people.
So What Causes Someone To Be Jealous Of You?
Jealousy is often rooted in personal insecurities and feelings of inadequacy. A person who is deeply fulfilled and truly happy with his/her life would never feel jealous of anyone, nor would they feel insecure about someone else’s growth and well-being.
Now there are varying forms of insecurities and feelings of inadequacy but we’ll look at the general psychology behind jealousy.
The Psychology Behind Jealousy
If someone is jealous of you, it probably means they see something in you that they couldn’t achieve or become.
It could be the smallest of things that could make the other person feel inadequate because they might have some insecurities in that area of life or might have self-esteem issues, even though apparently they might portray themselves as confident.
The Tendency to Compare Themselves To Others
Some people just have a pattern of comparing themselves to others and wanting to be superior and dominant due to their insecurities.
Their sense of self-worth is attached to being better than someone else, so you might find such people trying to prove their worth and dominance or trying to make the other person look inferior so they could feel good about themselves.
Someone Who Is Jealous Might Not Be A Bad Person Overall
Having said that, someone doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad or negative person to feel jealous.
Sometimes certain things indirectly trigger people’s insecurities and weak spots. And in trying to overcome that, they take on a defensive approach to show their worth, or worse, an offensive approach to downplay the other person.
Jealousy Is Not Always About Physical Blessings
We often think that jealousy is linked to physical blessings. If you are financially and professionally better off than someone or you have a great family life or you just have good looks, someone might feel jealous of you. But that is not always the case.
Sometimes even the people who are apparently doing much better than you, would feel jealous of your achievements or just simply feel insecure by your well-being.
That might be because they could see the confidence and courage in you to stand up for your life and follow your calling. Something that they wished they had done in their lives.
They see you doing things that they never did. They see the potential in you and might feel threatened by your progress and growth lest you get ahead of them in the near future.
What Is A Jealous Person Focused On?
People who tend to feel jealous or insecure about others’ progress and well-being, tend to focus on what they don’t have, instead of being happy about others’ happiness or appreciating their achievements.
They instantly compare themselves to others who might be doing better than them in a particular area. Their subconscious mind processes it as “why don’t I have that?” and their mind comes up with a variety of answers to defend their position and identity.
They might then come up with thoughts such as:
“oh he is just privileged and lucky”
“I didn’t have the choices, opportunities, or resources that he/she has.”
“Oh her success is just temporary, it will all be gone soon.”
“Who does he think he is, I’m far better than him in this, this, and this area…”
Such subconscious thoughts might translate into hateful and toxic comments, criticisms, passive aggression, changing the topic of conversation, cross-questioning the other person to find loopholes and weaknesses, and a variety of such toxic behaviors.
Having said all of that, this is not to judge or have negative assumptions about someone. The point is to just take a peek and understand the mindset that breeds jealousy.
If you want to learn about how to spot hidden jealousy in someone, check out the article below in which we’ll look into 11 telltale signs of jealousy and insecurity.
11 Major Signs Of Jealous & Insecure People
Can a Jealous Person Ever Change?
Jealousy is not usually an attribute or a trait. It’s an emotion and the feelings of jealousy can transform in most cases.
By avoiding things that trigger jealousy in someone and changing your approach towards such people who tend to feel jealous of you, you can influence their behavior in a positive way.
The First 5 strategies that we are about to look into below will help you do exactly just that. In the last 3, we’ll discuss what to do when such jealous people don’t change even after you’ve done what you could.
8 Effective Ways To Deal With Jealous People
We just looked into the psychology behind a jealous mindset. Based on that, here are 8 ways to effectively deal with jealous people and quickly recover from such uncomfortable interactions.
1. Empathize With Them
Since now you know the root causes behind jealousy, it is easier to have some empathy for the person feeling jealous.
We never know what might be going on in people’s lives, so give them some benefit of doubt. Maybe they are feeling jealous of your professional progress because things might not be going so smooth for them financially even after working hard, day and night.
They might be feeling jealous of your family life because they are going through a challenging phase in their marriage or having a hard time with their kids.
Maybe they have their own internal insecurities and self-esteem issues and that is why they feel jealous towards you.
Jealousy is essentially a painful emotion to have. So it only fits that we have some empathy for the pain they are putting themselves through before we come to harsh judgments.
2. Avoid Talking About Yourself And Give Them Importance Instead
If you want to take ONE thing from this entire guide, take this.
When you realize someone is feeling insecure or jealous when you talk about your life, just stop talking about yourself. This is surprisingly one of the most common causes of jealousy and insecurity.
Even people who are essential good-hearted can feel insecure if someone is talking too much about themselves.
No matter how good a person is, everybody has their own internal insecurities of some form.
When you talk too much about your successes and well-being, it stimulates an urge in them to prove themselves worthy and important, so they either reciprocate and start showing off their own achievements or begin to downplay and undermine your success so that they don’t feel worthless.
What you must do instead, is to give them importance and let them talk about their life.
Actively listen and engage with them when they tell you how great their vacation went or how amazing their job is. Show excitement and genuine appreciation for them. Be happy in their happiness and you’ll find people feeling comfortable with you, respecting you, and developing good relations with you.
3. Take Their Hateful Comments With A Smile
Silence at the right time can often be a very powerful tool. When someone says something hateful and toxic to you, instead of getting angry or hurt, smile back at them with silence and confidence.
You’ll usually see two responses to your confident silent smile in such scenarios.
- Either you’ll see confusion on their faces since they might be expecting a reaction from you. But when they don’t get what they were looking for, their mind will get scrambled and their pattern will be broken.
- If they don’t have animosity towards you but just showing hints of jealousy because of their own personal insecurities, then you’ll probably see their jealous behavior disintegrate in a couple of minutes or even a few seconds.
4. Address The Matter Head-on
If nothing else works, you can confront the person head-on but in a calm and wise manner. You wouldn’t want to start a fight with them.
If you find someone constantly talking behind your back or passing indirect/passive-aggressive comments towards you, find a time when they are free and somewhat relaxed, and then talk to them regarding this.
Ask them if they have any problems with you or is there anything you did that offended them. Tell them that you want to have good relations with them and their comments or behavior is making it harder for you to be in good terms.
If they are not utterly vindictive or have a deep grudge towards you, they’ll probably disarm and leave their toxic practices and have you in high regard since you handled their negative behavior with such positivity.
5. Do Some Random Acts Of Kindness Towards Jealous People
If the jealous person you are dealing with is one of your friends or family members. Chances are you interact with them regularly. In that case, try doing random favors and acts of kindness towards them.
Kindness has the power to dismantle jealousy and animosity while kindling love and respect in the receiver’s heart.
It will take them by surprise when you do something good for them out of the ordinary since they might not be expecting that, especially from you.
6. Limit Your Interaction With Them Or Remove Them From Your Life
The first 5 strategies were focused on you proactively doing your part to improve your relations with people who show envy or jealousy towards you.
Now after doing all that, you still find them having the same toxic behavior, then it’s better to save yourself from such toxicity and keep a distance from them. They might have strong internal insecurities that make them vulnerable to small little things. In that case, anything you do might make them feel insecure and threaten their worth.
Dealing with such vulnerable and unpredictable people is like walking on eggshells since their jealousy could get triggered by the smallest of actions and gestures. And that can be utterly draining. Being on your toes all the time is not pleasant at all, in fact, it’s mentally and emotionally tiring.
If you can’t completely remove them from your life, let’s say they are your relatives or your co-workers, then be reserved and limit your interaction with them.
When you do have to interact, keep your personal/professional life out of the conversation. Even when they ask about your life, answer briefly and neutrally, then switch the conversation to a more general topic, or better yet close the conversation and move on.
7. Know Who Is Worth Your Time & Energy And Who Isn’t
Knowing when and where to invest your time and energy is one of the most important distinctions you must develop to know with whom you might apply which of these strategies.
You don’t want to be draining your mental and emotional energy on people who seem to be a lost cause. People who don’t hold much value in your life.
If someone plainly dislikes you for who you are, there is no point in trying to please them and exhausting yourself trying to change their minds.
It’s okay to make peace with the fact that some people ARE going to dislike you for no apparent reason. It might be their problem, not yours. They might just have a very negative outlook on life and have a deprived, insecure mindset.
Or it’s just that your values and overall energy does not match with them even though they might be good people generally.
If they are still showing jealousy towards you, even after you’ve made efforts to make peace with them, then they are bringing misery upon themselves by cultivating such behaviors and emotions.
They are doing this to themselves and you don’t have to worry about it anymore since you have done your part.
We cannot change a person who is determined to be unhappy and finds reasons to do so. It’s also difficult to transform someone who has been living all of his/her life unconsciously, unaware of their own thoughts and emotions, and how it is impacting their well-being.
8. Spend More Time & Energy On People Who Genuinely Like You
Certainly, you might have people in your life who like you and are genuinely happy for you. Invest your mental and emotional energy on them. They are the ones who truly deserve your care, attention, and thoughts. Give them a place in your mind and heart while removing anyone who doesn’t deserve to occupy your thoughts and mind space.
No matter what you do in life, there will always be both types of people, ones who like you and genuinely want good for you, and ones who won’t like you at all. It is important that we accept this fact and be in harmony with it.
If someone doesn’t like us or feels jealous of us, it doesn’t take anything away from us, does it? So why sweat over it.
There are so many other positive things and great people out there. Let’s choose to focus our attention on that from now on.
An artist by nature, a writer by calling, a psychologist by passion. Someone who has dedicated his life to exploring deep human potentials, spirituality, and timeless wisdoms of life with a hunger to share those experiences and knowledge to help others find meaning and improve the quality of their lives.