The Green-Eyed Monster

Why is jealousy, Shakespeare’s green-eyed monster, such a strong emotion?

I remember it from childhood, of feeling SO jealous of my sister, worried that somehow my parents liked her best, loved her the most.  I hated how the green-eyed emotion could consume my loving self, the self who adored my little sister.  How it could turn me into an angry, hurt, and oh-so-jealous monster.

And many times since then, I’ve felt that monster try to sneak into my subconsciousness.  When I think someone is being favored.  Or has more.  Or seems happier.  Or healthier.  Or smarter.  Or any other MORE that I think that I lack. That I worry I lack.

Perhaps perceived lack is at the root?

But not only lack.  Below lack is fear.

Back to my childhood, it was the fear that if my sister were more loved, then perhaps I wouldn’t be parented, fed, clothed. Perhaps I’d be abandoned.  Perhaps I’d end up alone, unloved, starving.

And when I feel jealousy as an adult, I bet those same feelings lie under the green-eyed monster’s emergence.

I’ve been on both sides of jealousy.  I’ve been jealous of people, and I’ve had people be jealous of me.

We adults are good at hiding jealousy, though.  Kids are more honest about it.  We adults try to hide it under sarcasm, criticism, comparison, evaluation.

We try to make it logical.  


But we know, deep inside, that it’s not logic.  It’s not justified.

It’s emotion.  Primal emotion born of fear.



I’ve been paying attention lately to how the green-eyed monster shows up in my life. To how I can somehow befriend it, to take the message it’s bringing me without loosing the monster on someone else.  And to being aware when I feel someone else’s monster start to raise its head.

Awareness is what can defeat the monster or turn it into something else, something not-monster, something kind and compassionate and loving.

Transformation is what I’m after.  From the green-eyed monster to my most kind, compassionate, loving self.

But also a self who knows the green-eyed monster when I see it, a self who will stand up to it.  Whether it’s inside me or someone else.

Courage is required.  Because jealousy can be so powerful.

Courage and compassion.  For the little kid in each of us. The one we each need to heal, to reassure, to comfort.

Yes, courage and compassion is what it takes to transform the green-eyed monster.

Starting with the one that lives within me.


4 thoughts on “The Green-Eyed Monster

  1. Jealousy is powerful and insidious and sneaky. Awareness is the first step to confrontation, because you are so right – jealousy seems justified and therefore below awareness. “I’m not jealous, I’m just being mistreated!” Perhaps it is part of our base nature, but awareness allows you to retort “You’re not being mistreated. Look again with a rational eye.” And then to choose the voice of the loving and forgiving self that you are strengthening everyday. Thanks for sharing this struggle and making me mindful to listen to the second voice.

    • Isn’t it, though! It had me (almost) fooled for most of my life. I add the “almost” because deep down, I knew it was something not life affirming at all. Every day, one day at a time, I have to choose the loving and forgiving self. But honestly, I feel SO much better when I do! Some of it is just finding the courage to quit listening to jealousy.

  2. When Jesus said, “Blessed are those who suffer for righteousness’ sake” , he meant that those who suffer fear and shame and anger, terror, despair, etc..all those are dark emotions that rise up inside us, they are our own lower selves. There is no outside persecutor ! Wow, when we realize that we have been brewing wrong thoughts inside us that provoke fear, we are clearing up, understanding, growing. We are moving toward truth…or right thinking, ” righteousness.” We get a better, higher spiritual understanding, and it’s a good moment. We see the fear was, poof ! just an illusion, and ta-daa!! we advance. What a blessed condition advancement is ! We had been persecuted by our warped thoughts so that finally, one day at last we could grasp the underlying truth, the right thinking, the righteousness. Persecuted for righteousness’ sake is a phrase which suddenly makes sense to me today. Fear stalked me until I turned and faced it and saw it came not from without but from within. The quote I opened with—-It is definitely not about being a martyr suffering for speaking the gospel– that is how I used to see it and had always thought, why surely I can never embrace this one impossible beatitude ! Today, I get it, but only with the help of Krista and Emmett Fox, who I coincidentally happened to be reading this morning, in Sermon on the Mount, c.1934, pp 43-46.

    • Thank you so much for sharing your aha from today, Janetta. I’m so glad I was a part of your coincidence of readings today. Oh yes, “a good moment.” Yes, indeed! Fear is so often (perhaps always?) at the root of my suffering.

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