Artistic envy and jealousy

Many believe that envy and jealousy are emotions that concern other people. In reality, they are all about us. Envy and jealousy speak for our insecurities, anxiety, and fears.

We seek proof that others are the problem in order to avoid looking in the mirror and seeing the things we don’t like about ourselves.

You want to feel happy for a friend who made it in a show that rejected your entry and you can’t help but feel like “it should have been me”.

We feel justified in our envy and jealousy because we take our art very personally and often over-identify with the end results of our craft. The finished product is often the high point through the suffering, anger, frustration, and instability that the creative process can be filled with. And it makes sense, you take pride in the creative outcome because you see the positive things about yourself that otherwise would elude you. You put your entire self-worth into it and then if someone, more or less directly, expresses disagreement, you get hurt; that is your ego gets hurt.

And here is an interesting thing about envy and jealousy: we mainly feel envy toward people who we know, or people who we consider our equal in terms of skill, talent, etc. but never towards big celebrities. People we perceive to be outside our “range”, we tell ourselves, have either special circumstances, a special kind of a support network, and so on. Their success seems justified while the success of those who surround you is not as easily rationalized. Why? Because with those we perceive to be in our “range”, our peers, we feel we can compare ourselves fairly to and we feel capable of “winning”.

Nonetheless, when we open the door of comparison we allow in judgment, envy, and jealousy. With all these emotions also come guilt and shame for feeling judgmental, envious and jealous because, let’s face it, you’ve been told you’re entire life to “Be nice to others”.

When one of our equals gets a “win” we become very critical of their work and begin comparing ourselves to them (and our work against theirs in a very superficial manner). You might call a friend who you know will be supportive and agree with you, and while their intentions are good, they will only keep you stuck in this whirlwind of negativity. It might feel good in the moment to hear from someone else what you’ve been telling yourself (that you’re better) but after a short while you’ll be back at square one: It feels like you were rejected, you are no good, you are unacknowledged and invisible.

Envy and jealousy can ruin one’s creative vision and destroy one’s creativity.

When all you do is compare yourself to other people, or at least to the image you have formed of them – which tends to be inflated and often not based in reality, you can’t really focus on being present and making art. To create art requires a certain level of introspection and self-connection and when you feel envious and jealous, these capabilities vanish.

In dealing with envy and jealousy it’s important to identify both:

1. The perceived reason (the “why”) for your jealousy, and more importantly
2. How the feeling of jealousy or envy translate for you.

Is it really that you’re better (whatever that means, it’s subjective at best) or could it be that you know you’ve been slacking off, or maybe you need to network more, etc.

The thing is, you are allowed to feel the way you do, you are allowed to feel hurt. It is also okay to feel angry, or resentful. You can choose to accept how you feel in the moment so that you can work through it and move on.

Don’t ask yourself repeatedly “Why” you feel jealous, rather “What is my jealousy telling me about myself”?
What are the underlying messages in the way you manifest your jealousy and envy? Could it be about some of your insecurities?

It’s easy to give into the fury of jealousy and envy while keeping yourself oblivious to how much power you have over those emotions. Born out of your ego, jealousy and envy can give you a false sense of entitlement and superiority that act as blinders to the things you need to focus on most: the areas within yourself that need improvement. So, before you start investing time and effort into yet another episode of jealousy and envy, give yourself permission to feel all of your emotions and focus on what those feelings are trying to tell you about you. You do not hold the secrets of other people’s success, but your own.