When the Green-Eyed Monster Rears Its Ugly Head: Dealing with Feelings of Jealousy
Webster’s dictionary defines jealous as, “hostile towards a rival or one believed to enjoy an advantage.” Based on this definition, why wouldn’t we feel jealous of those who appear to have the “advantage” of health over those of us with psoriatic arthritis? I see them everyday, walking around, paying no mind to how lucky they actually are. I used to be one of “those” lucky people. Someone who knows what it feels like to wake up without pain or fatigue. Oh, how I miss those days.
Let’s face it, feeling healthy and being healthy is technically an “advantage”, so it is only natural that those of us who do not enjoy that particular luxury would have to deal with feelings of jealousy. On occasions when I feel good enough to venture out, I hear stories all the time about people abusing their bodies and taking their own health for granted. It makes me feel so angry that I want to scream! Why can’t they see how lucky they are to have bodies that work so well?
Am I jealous? Of course!
One of the first things I try to do when dealing with feelings of jealousy is recognize the feeling for what it is. I often feel jealous when my psoriatic arthritis limits the things that I can do. If my friends invite me for a shopping outing and I already had plans the day before, chances are that I won’t be able to do it. I feel sad and left out if I can’t do the things that my otherwise healthy friends can do. I feel jealous that my friends can make plans that don’t revolve around what their body is capable of doing. I often remind myself that these feelings of jealousy are perfectly normal.
Is there anything wrong with that? Nope.
I used to beat myself up. I’m jealous of my neighbor, out working in her garden. I’m jealous of my husband, running around with our kids. I’m jealous of my healthy friends when they go on a marathon shopping excursion. Instead of accepting that these feelings were part of living with psoriatic arthritis, I tried to convince myself that being jealous of healthy people was wrong.
Just because I’m jealous, doesn’t mean that I harbor any sort of resentment for their health. Therein lies the difference, my friends. I may feel jealous, but at the same time I feel SO happy that those that I love are able to live full, healthy lives. I can be jealous, yet proud at the same time. Proud that they are moving forward, accomplishing their dreams, and living life to the fullest. Really, I am doing the same things, just in my own way and in my own time.
Tips for dealing with feelings of jealousy
- Admit to the feeling– Sometimes, simply putting a name to a feeling can help me tackle it. Admitting feelings of jealousy towards the healthy people in my life helps to keep me from feeling overwhelmed and angry at those who don’t live with psoriatic arthritis.
- Remember that everyone has their own hurdles– Just like for many of us with psoriatic arthritis, you can’t always see on the outside that someone isn’t healthy, physically or mentally. We all have our own mountains to climb and those that we are often jealous of, those that we think have some sort of “advantage” really have their own challenges. Trust me, we don’t corner the market on health issues.
- Don’t beat yourself up– I used to think I was a bad person when I felt those twinges of jealousy. I would feel stressed which in turn would bring on a flare. Limiting stress in our lives is the number one way to fend off a flare and stressing over feelings of jealousy do nothing but make it more difficult to live with the emotional effects of psoriatic arthritis.
- Remind yourself of your own strengths– Believe it or not, psoriatic arthritis has brought with it a slew of gifts for me. Living with PsA has taught me to be more empathetic. It has taught me to have patience like you wouldn’t believe, and it has made me stronger than I ever thought I could be. So yes, I may occasionally feel jealous of more able-bodied people, but I have plenty of “advantages” that make me pretty darn special too.
Do you ever have feelings of jealousy?
So next time you feel that ugly green monster begin to creep up, take a look in the mirror. Take stock of your own feelings and know that despite the pain and fatigue, you are capable of so much more than you ever thought possible. You have just as much to contribute to this world and just as many perceived “advantages.”