Mother, what is water?” — asked the baby fish

“Water is what you swim in. Water is what you’re mostly made of. It’s everywhere around you.” — the mother fish replied.

“But I can’t see it.” — said the baby.

Life’s most precious things are like water — they surround us, yet we don’t see them.

Do you see what you have? Or simply pay attention to what other people have, achieve or the recognition they get? That’s how envy and jealousy get into your life — rather than appreciating the water around you; they bring out the worst in you.

Jealousy and envy are related though are not the same — they are two different types of poison.

How envy and jealousy harm you

“Jealousy is no more than feeling alone against smiling enemies.” — Elizabeth Bowen

Envy and jealousy travel together but are different emotions — both are negative and can make you feel miserable and ruin your relationships.

Envy is a two-person relationship: I want what you have. Jealousy is a three-person triangle: I want the recognition you have from others.

When you wish you have your colleague’s office, that’s envy. When you feel threatened by how much your boss praises one of your colleague’s work, that’s jealousy.

Envy is resentment toward others because of their possessions or success. You idealize when you are envious. You don’t just want what they have; you want their stature too.

Jealousy is when a third person threatens a relationship — you are afraid to lose someone you love in the hands of other.

Jealousy is an anticipatory emotion as Ralph Hupka said. “Jealousy causes us to take precautionary measures. Should those fail and the partner has an affair, the new situation arouses anger, depression, and disappointment.” the Professor of Psychology at California State University added.

Jealousy and envy are natural instincts. However, you can manage how you react. Both emotions mask other feelings that can become lethal. They hide our insecurity, shame or need to possess — they feed our inner-critic making us feel worthless.

Envy is a reaction to lacking something; Jealousy is a reaction to the threat of losing something or someone.

A painful ancient symptom

Both jealousy and envy originate from the primitive fight-or-flight response. When you feel under attack, your brain triggers a warning signal.

Our tribal ancestors lived in fear of arousing the envy of the gods by their pride or good fortune. Hera’s envy for Aphrodite set off the Trojan War in Greek mythology.

Jealousy and envy are still the cause of most current conflicts both in the professional and personal world.

Envy drives to self-sabotage causing wars and others conflicts. It typically becomes a group phenomenon, and turns to hatred and assaults against others, as Frank J. Ninivaggi explains on Envy Theories.

We have a false sense of justice — our system emphasizes the equality of all. That’s a curious paradox: the sense that we deserve our fair share of things is at the root of envy.

Life is not fair. There will always be people with more talents, health, possessions or reputation than yourself. Entitlement doesn’t help — thinking that you deserve better makes you focus on the outcome rather than on the effort.

Jealousy originates from the prospect of failure; envy from actual ‘failure.’

To let go of these two negative emotions, we must thoroughly understand where those feelings come from. And stop seeing yourself as a failure.

We create our own poison

“Envy is the religion of the mediocre. It comforts them, it soothes their worries, and finally, it rots their souls, allowing them to justify their meanness and their greed until they believe these to be virtues.” — Carlos Ruiz Zaf√≥n