How to Overcome Jealousy and Be Happy for a Friend, Even If It Kills You Inside

Oh, jealousy.

You know how it is. Your friend gets a new S.O. or manages to score a better grade on your most recent test and—instead of feeling happy and excited—all you feel is an overwhelming sense of envy.

Cady Herron and Karen at the Lunch Table

(Mean Girls via Paramount Pictures)

While these feelings might be totally normal, they can also prevent you from genuinely celebrating your friend's successes. So what do you do when you really want to be happy for someone, but the little green monster keeps getting in the way?

Keep scrolling to learn how you can overcome jealousy and be happy for a friend, even if it kills you inside.

Don't Just Push It Away

As frustrating as it might be, jealousy is a totally natural emotion. And—just like any other emotion—trying to ignore it or pretend it isn't there will only backfire on you. Why? Because it prevents you from discovering the source of the problem. Ignoring your feelings of jealousy will only allow them to fester and grow, coloring all your interactions with the target of your envy a nauseating shade of green. As difficult as it seems, acknowledging your negative feelings can allow you to effectively deal with them.

Girl Contemplating

(via Unsplash)

Don't Beat Yourself Up

After you acknowledge that you are in fact jealous, it can be tempting to react with anger, mostly aimed at yourself. You start admonishing yourself for being jealous of your friend, then you start feeling bad that you're being so hard on yourself, then you feel bad again because you shouldn't be feeling sorry for yourself—it's a cycle with no end.

Acknowledging your jealousy does not make you a terrible person, and beating yourself up about your negative emotions will get you nowhere. It will only make you feel even worse about things, and bombarding yourself with criticism prevents you from searching for an effective solution to your problem. Everyone gets jealous sometimes—acknowledge the emotion, work towards finding a solution and stay away from the cycle of misery that comes with beating yourself up.

Understand That It's Not You vs. Them

Jealousy often stems from seeing your friend with something they have that you don't. They're smarter, they have better skin, they wear nicer clothes, they have a cuter S.O.—the list of jealousy-inducing topics is endless.

However, being envious of the things your friend has automatically puts you in competition with them. They seem to be gaining all these things that you can't attain, and it can feel like you're falling behind them on the precarious "have/don't have" scale.

Overcoming jealousy and being happy for someone starts by understanding that it's not you vs. your friend. Just because they have these items right now, doesn't mean that you can't also attain them someday. It also doesn't mean that they're ahead of you in any way. There are plenty of attributes and traits that you have that your friend doesn't have. Friendship isn't about winning, it's about supporting and loving each other, no matter what the circumstances might be.

Riverdale Betty and Veronica Facing Each Other

(Riverdale via The CW)

Find the Source

You can't deal with jealousy unless you understand why you're jealous. So you have to ask yourself, what lies beneath your bitterness? If you're envious of your BFF's popular new friends, could it be that you're just worried she's going to leave you behind? If you're resentful of your pal's adorable new S.O., could you still be recovering from your most recent romantic failure?

Finding the source of your jealousy isn't so much about the conclusion you come to, but rather about analyzing your feelings and doing a little soul-searching about your own biases and stress that are affecting your opinion of your friend's success. Once you do that, you might realize that your jealousy has nothing to do with your friend at all, and instead has everything to do with hidden emotions that you weren't ready to deal with.

Work to Fix the Problem

It's pretty pointless to understand the source of your jealousy if you're not going to work to change it. That's the awesome thing about life—there's always something you can do to alter your situation. If you're jealous that your friend is doing better in school, spend more time in your studies and catch up. If you're worried that your friend is going to ditch you for a new group, try to bond with her new pals and make some new friends in the process. Once you've found the source of your jealousy, you can work to make your situation better, which will be instrumental in reducing your feelings of bitterness.

Focus on the Positive

Now comes the hard part—learning to be happy for your friend when you're still working through your feelings of jealousy. It's not easy to just flip a switch and decide to celebrate when the little green monster has temporarily taken control of your brain functions, but you can start by focusing on the positive things that you have that your friend doesn't.

It might sound a little counterintuitive to the whole "it's not a competition" thing, but it's shockingly effective in reducing your jealousy. Sure, your friend might have a wonderful new S.O., but you'll have more time to spend with your pals than she will. Focusing on the positive things in your life can totally change your mindset and allow you to truly be happy with your friend, instead of feeling like you got the short end of the stick.

Smiling Girl

(via Unsplash)

Celebrate Their Accomplishments

What's the best way to stop your negative emotions? Have a celebration! Even if your heart isn't fully in it, celebrating your friend's accomplishments will help to distract your envious brain from focusing on the bad part of the situation, and it can help you show your pal that you are happy for them, even if you're not ready to say it yet.

Whether it's taking them out to dinner or planning a GNO in their honor, celebrating your friend's accomplishments will make them feel happy and loved, and it will allow you to temporarily push those jealous thoughts out of your head until you're ready to fully deal with them. Plus, your enthusiasm (forced or not) might bring you two closer when they see how supportive you are.

Fake It 'Til You Make It

When in doubt, fake it. Dealing with jealousy can be hard. It can take lots of time to work through the layers and layers of complicated emotions that go into a envious attitude. So if you find that working through your jealousy is taking much more time than you would like, just fake it!

Pretend to be happy for your friend. It will buy you more time to work through your envy issues and, if you fake happiness long enough, you might eventually start to feel genuinely content about the situation. Showing that you're jealous could be very detrimental for your friendship, so it's better to pretend to be happy until the moment when you can actually feel happy.

 

Jealousy affects much more than just friendships, it also finds its way into romantic relationship. Click HERE for seven signs that there's an unhealthy amount of jealousy in your relationship.