This Is Still So Very Painful!

flickr, procsilas

One freedom that I have not yet attained is freedom from jealousy.  Today, I’m stung by professional jealousy, but I often get flare ups of the personal kind as well. (That’s me up there with the green hair on the left. Sometimes I’m the other girl. But today, I’m DEFINITELY the one with the green hair.)

Looking at this problem semi-objectively, I find that I have the following thought patterns that contribute to my downward emotional spiral:

1. hum de dum de dum.  I’m going about my life, doing my thing, when

2. someone else gets something.  It’s usually something I didn’t even know was gettable, but there you have it.  They’ve achieved some professional accolade or invitation AND I DIDN’T!

3. I feel less than. I wonder what’s wrong with MY work. I wonder what’s wrong with ME. (Why does so and so who bestowed this honor prefer that person to me?)

4. then, I get a modicum of sense. I intellectually understand that the other person’s work is different from mine and is simply a better fit than mine in this case.

5. and I remind myself of my own wins

6. but none of those matter. In fact the sum total of my LIFETIME accomplishments pale in comparison to this one thing.

7. and I feel bad. I feel bad because I care about the other parties. I feel bad for myself. I feel bad because I make myself feel worse by silently accusing myself of laziness.

8. and, of course, I’m fat. Lately a LOT of stuff is coming back to that.

Somewhere along this lightening slide to the bottom, a spiritual entreaty or two comes to mind. It occurs to me that I have more productive options.

I could pray, for example . . . nahhhhhh!

I could call someone, but I’m so sick of having this same needy conversation over and over again.

I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired.

I turn my mind and my attention to better things.  I make a gratitude list. I start looking for others I can help.

I get busy.

Before too long, I feel better.  But, in truth, it’s not a “better” that I know will stick. I know that I’m gonna get slammed again. I’m in a highly visible profession and my colleagues are doing some really cool stuff. I get to do cool stuff, too.

I suppose, at its essence, my feelings of jealousy and envy come from an unquenchable desire for MORE.

And OTHER.

Lordy, lordy free me from the bondage of that two-headed hydra known as MORE and OTHER.

And, even as I write that last line, I realize that the quest for MORE and OTHER have brought me many gifts in life, too.

MORE and OTHER have freed me of painful relationships.

MORE and OTHER helped pay for my education, an investment that benefits me every day of my life.

MORE and OTHER helped me survive alcoholism, the death of a child, and a predisposition to depression.

MORE and OTHER are why we have Life After Tampons.

MORE and OTHER are why I’ve been able to create some work that has really helped a lot of people.

It seems I need my MORE and OTHER. It seems that others benefit from the gifts of my MORE and OTHER.

But, every now and then, (well, actually, quite regularly), MORE and OTHER turn on me and bite down – HARD.

This morning was one of those occasions, and today, I’m asking for your Beautiful support.  Will you help me out of my self-centered fear today?

Will you please list one struggle that you have been able to overcome since you’ve been part of our LAT community? Then, will you please list one area where you still need help?

I’ll collect all of those and try to create some new magic on your behalf.

Love, Jen

photo: flickr, procsilas

P.S. In answer to last week’s post, the phrase I use when dealing with difficult people who seek to silence all opposition is this: “I see it differently.” Give it a shot.

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58 Responses to This Is Still So Very Painful!

  1. Cija Black says:

    I so very know what you mean about professional jealousy and the idea of not being enough. I am a love expert and as much as I love the opportunity to help people find love, when it comes down to the daily nuts and bolts of the business I find myself feeling not pretty enough, thin enough, witty enough, my ideas not compelling enough to help people find love. So I totally get it.

    In answer to your questions: LAT has helped me understand that I don’t have to be perfect and it’s even OK to admit it. That is a tough one for me but when I read your posts it allows me to lighten up on myself. Thank you for that.

    I still need help with really, really getting that I am truly enough. That what I have to offer the world is valuable and important. Not exactly a small thing but it seems to be at the core of many of my insecurities.

    Thank you for being here for us. :)

  2. Katie says:

    Don’t fight it, don’t negotiate it, don’t rationalise it and certainly do NOT busy it away – that’s called suppression. Allow it – just sit back, breathe and allow it – really feel it, don’t be scared, let it engulf you – you won’t die, you will feel incredible fear, but it will slowly fade – and you may understand it a little more, even identify where the root of this is from – then you can go love it, and then it won’t bite so hard xx

  3. Sarah says:

    One thing that LAT has helped me overcome is the flip side of this post – that everyone struggles with something, just like I do. It might not be the same issue, and they may not be vocal about it, maybe for social or personal reasons. Just because someone LOOKS put together, it doesn’t mean that they feel that way. That has allowed me to offer grace to others (and myself) rather than judgement. Thank you Jen for making vulnerability a part of your ministry/service/project. :)

  4. Joseph Musumeci says:

    Jen,

    I really feel you here. I was speaking to a colleague about during our trip to NY recently. In many ways, survuiving in theatre is a constant exercise in surviving More and Other: at the very moment you are experiencing your highest high, there is always word of someone ELSE experiencing something higher. And Higher. (or so we imagine…)

    There is a meme circulating (actually, there are a LOT of them, right now, I have wondered why…) about the creative process; my favorite is a timeline:
    1) This is AWEsome
    2) This is Tricky….
    3) This is SHIT!
    4) I AM SHIT!!!
    5) This is awesome!

    My ability to balance my More and Other-ness usually corresponds directly to my ability to disconnect 4) and 5). BUT – when opening a show Off-Freaking-Broadway I was till haunted by the fact that same show had not gotten me a nod for a local award – a nod a good friend had gotten for the very first time. So: I’m a shit because I can’t love what i have, and I’m a shit because I can’t be fully happy for my friend AND I’ma shit because I DONT EVEN BELIEVE IN AWARDS FOR ART. Sheesh. Cognitive disconnect much?

    What I was able to do was to confront those feelings, and let them go. How is too long for a comment, but I’d be happy to talk about it in greater detail any time you want. What I mostly want to say is: you’re remarkable, and you do remarkable things. And in a universe where we only matter as much as we let ourselves matter, that’s not a bad thing.

    Love. And Coffee.

  5. Oh my dear Jennifer, I can SOOOOO relate to this feeling. There are so many amazing people out there doing wonderful work. If it makes you feel any better, I’ve had that green-eyed monster make an appearance over YOUR beautiful site and wonderful writing. I think all of us who work online are constantly comparing ourselves because we are so intertwined with each other and looking at the latest and greatest ideas to help us grow our businesses. But . . . there is only 1 Jennifer, and no one in the world can offer your style, your personality, and your unique message. Never forget that! You rock girl!!!! Keep doing what you’re doing. Hugs to you.

    • Jennifer says:

      You are such a love, Barrie. I want to be you like every other day, though this morning’s crash wasn’t due to your awesomeness. But then, come to think of it, your gazillion Tumbler thing didn’t help.

      To stay open, to stay honest, to keep trying to grow along spiritual lines, to do my best work, to trust that is and WILL BE enough — this is where the work brings me today.

      Thank you, love.

  6. Meg Eckhardt says:

    Jennifer, I TOTALLY resonated with the two headed hydra. Love the visual idea of that! I agree with the other respondants to your question. I think the thing that works the best for me is to just sit and breathe through the feeling, being present to the feelings until they pass through me- and they always seem to. One thing that this website has helped me with is helping me see another possibility to whatever issue is going on with me. It is so very helpful to know that there is always another take on things that learning about them gives me hope…..and allows another aspect to emerge. Something that I could use a little help with- still- is understanding why people, and women in particular- are so MEAN. That is something that I still don’t understand….THANKS for all you do! It is so great that you are sharing your gifts!

  7. Susan Wheeler says:

    Hello Jen,
    The way that you explained your More and Other process is encouraging and a good example of how you consciously reining in your dark fire and refocusing instead toward your choice to live a positive and meaningful professional life (and personal of course too).
    This emotional trigger is not foreign to me and obviously not to other readers as well. What I can say is for myself is that I came to understand and need to remind myself of the distinction between jealousy and envy. In simple terms it works like this for me.
    Jealousy leans on the negative in that someone has something, or acquired something (likely through working as hard or as creatively as one self) and you too want it – but you don’t want that person to have it, thinking the “I” am more deserving.
    Envy leans on the positive in that someone has something, or acquired something (likely through working as hard or as creatively as one self) and you too want it – and instead of thinking the “I” is more deserving you move to the “I” can do it too. If they can do it, then so can I (!). Thus it is an impetus for motivation.
    While I am new to finding LAT, and have read through the many excellent posts, it has helped me by providing an example of “go for it – now”.
    As for questioning what do I need assistance with now, hmm, it would be how not to block out others during my need for time to follow the creative juices when they arise.
    Thank you for your inspiring work and generosity of self.
    Susan

    • Jennifer says:

      Thank you, Susan. I especially like the “dark fire” image.

    • Alixandrea says:

      I see this distinction too, and try to employ it wherever possible. For instance, I am currently jealous of someone for the things that they do and that they are. But I am slowly turing this jealousy to envy because they’re not so very different to me, so if they can do it, so can I.

      Also, having more people (including them) doing what I want to do is actually a positive thing. Additional people in the ‘market’ makes us all more visible, which means that there is potential for more ‘customers’ as more people become aware that the ‘market’ exists. We’re not in direct competition; in fact we help each other simply by our presence, as long as we can remember to always stand in solidarity.

  8. Dawn Kotzer says:

    honestly…I simply need to read your ‘handle'; Life after Tampons to get an instant sense of alignment… A Big Juicy “oh Ya. Sweet…” feeling.
    Your wisdom has worked it’s way up through a mountain of life…with all the ups and downs, the blindsidings and scary shit PLUS the breathtaking moments.
    You can not fake the depth of experience YOU bring to the table. Period. {pun intended}
    from the intersection of all our MORE’s and OTHER’s
    Dawn

  9. Jan says:

    There are all ll kinds of cute posters about comparison being the thief of joy, being creative kryptonite, etc., etc. The ego is the root of all problems. If we are all from one source, we all share the glory(and sorrow). We are all extensions of each other and until we get that, we will not be at peace. If our child gets accolades for doing well, we don’t feel jealousy because they are an extension of us, right? We CAN feel peaceful about another person’s recognition because it’s part of us too. Sounds simplistic and sugary but I believe we all come from and go back to the same place, we’re all connected. Let’s genuinely feel pride in each other for doing well. It doesn’t take anything away from us, there’s plenty to go around. The energy of love multiplies all. Thanks for all of the great posts Jennifer!

  10. Melissa says:

    Take heart Jen, I for one, struggle with that green haired monster at times looking at all you have accomplished and the inspiration and leadership you provide to each of us as part of LAT . . .(didn’t expect that one, did you!)

    As to what have I overcome . . .I’ve not been here long enough. Found you through KC and This Epic Life. You are EPIC in ways I’ve never imagined and now I feel MORE and OTHER toward that . . . You and LAT help me realize just how much is possible and how my playing small and allowing my annoyingly persistent and limiting ego (Ralph, he got so big, I had to name him) to rule is no longer possible. As difficult as the place I’m in is, staying in it, is no longer an option. Thanks for shining the FLASHLIGHT of your LIGHT!

  11. Diana says:

    Funny thing I learned 70 days into the midlife insurrection, I need not fear the mental pause in menopause. It gave me the stillness to see who I really am. Thanks for your beautiful work Jennifer. If you keep sharing your wisdom mind, I know your day will come!

    I too could use some help with why women are so mean.

  12. Suzi says:

    Your work helped me center and feed myself good words after I left my husband. Your words helped me feel safe and remind myself that there is still beauty to be had in life, that I won’t feel this much guilt, shame, pain and loss forever. I am still in a state of shock that the marriage failed, and that I left it. I look for daily reminders that the universe is working for my best good, always. Some days I can’t seem to find those reminders. Maybe you can help remind those of us who struggle with the daily sadness to release the control and just let go. Hang in there. You do more good than you know.

  13. I’m not sure what I feel is jealousy or self-pity. I wear them both so well.

    Since becoming part of the LAT community, I overcame enormous resistance to starting my own website>>> the work that I MUST do. Now I’m struggling with culling my opinions into a coherent message that resonates with the women I am writing for and want to help. I let myself be led down a road I didn’t like when starting and now I am searching for the right path.

    I’ve also overcome a tiny bit of my massive resistance to reaching out to people. Thanks Jennifer. You are one of the main reasons. Your personal kindness and generosity helped me deal with the shame of needing help.

    • Jennifer says:

      Lordy, it’s a good thing we give each other permission around here to kind start stuff incompletely formed. Otherwise, how would we ever show up? Thank you brave BRAVE woman!

  14. Laurie says:

    One thing that LAT has helped me with is to see that I’m not the only one. I’m not the only one with fears, feelings of inadiqueacy, self loathing, running out of time, blah, blah, blah, blah.

    Some how, in some way, the way you do it Jenn, you have helped me to see that it’s not personal, what ever the it is. That I am ok.

    LAT is a refreshing glimpse into reality land and I so get what you are on about.

    Thank you!

  15. Jeanette says:

    I have 2 equally helpful take-aways from being here at LAT: the first is validation that I am on the path that is right for me, no matter what it may look like to others; second involves studying your communication style and how effectively you utilize personal experiences, lessons, pain as a way to connect and relate to varying aspects of our own struggles. You then guide us to brainstorm/share and/or validate, for ourselves, which of your suggested solutions could, or do, work for us. It is genius and you have created a gem with your unique style! What I still struggle with is letting ‘enough’ and ‘simplify’ , which I long for, remain priorities over ‘should’ and ‘must’.

  16. Karen Smith says:

    Death of a husband at 49 (I was 48). Although extremely painful and difficult, it has brought about a whole new person in me as I’ve struggled through these past few years, coming to peace with it and re-creating my life (I am remarried). I still struggle with sometimes accepting that it’s ok to get what I want out of life, to be happy with my new life.

  17. Camille says:

    Jennifer,
    Your vulnerability is your strength. Your ability to talk to us about short-comings endears you as one of us (i.e. we’ve been tossed around like corks in a hurricane and lived to laugh and love again). The wonderful thing about being 60 is that I KNOW that my behiney will never be perky again and that mean people are always there and that I will never like being “fat” (whether 5, 15, or 50 lbs), BUT my treasured inner circle is just fine with that. Thanks to you, I’ve learned a little self-correction is freeing and that closing doors is sometimes OK. And I’m finding great comfort in my “invisible years”. When jealousy creeps in (as it does, of course), I remind myself that every Life has challenges and that most people don’t celebrate that. But perhaps they should.

    • Jennifer says:

      ooooh, the “invisible years.” My throat closed just a little reading that.

      • Jeanette says:

        Oh, Camille, this is beautifully put! What resonates with me is the resent recognition that we are all visible and invisible, at every age, especially because we are ‘ other’ or ‘ more’ to some but not to all. It is so sweetly freeing and I feel that LAT is a tribute to that. Cheers to your insight and Jen’s fertile ground. We are so grandly fortunate!

        • Camille says:

          Yes, we are wonderfully blessed! LAT opens a space large enough to contain all of our journeys. And in that space that Jennifer holds for us, our experiences are rich and meaningful…and it’s all OK.

  18. This is great as always, Jen.

    I think when talking about comparison we need to look at context.

    Much of our comparing happens in the work realm. If you’re an entrepreneur, the first thing we are told to do is to clarify our uniqueness. To do this, we have to look at similar people and voila, the compare monster not only exist but gets validated. We see what others are doing, we see how much better they are doing and we go back home feeling small and lost.

    The impact of this is ramped up because it’s our business – our livelihood. We need to make money and this comparison process is endless and triggers our base need to survive.

    It happens in the personal realm as well but in the work realm it’s even more deadly.

    • Jennifer says:

      Right on!!!!! Yep. Completely.

    • Alixandrea says:

      Yes this, absolutely!! I have to keep remindning myself that these people have been doing what I want to do for a looong time, and are therefore good at it due to practice. So I, too, can in theory tread the same path.

      Lately I’ve been trying to get in touch with the people I envy to find out more about them, what they did when they were just starting up, and how they do things now. I figure they have so much to teach me about how to do what I want to do, and I have more opportunity to avoid the pitfalls that once trapped them if I ask about them, rather than travelling blindly.

      Also, it validates my own challenges if I can see that the people I am studying had similar challenges themselves when they were starting out. It means I’m not ‘stupid’ or ‘doing it wrong’ but simply walking the same path, just a little way behind.

  19. Dinah says:

    I am sorry you are fighting the green haired monster today – thanks by the way for that visual, so much nicer for us green eyed gals. In the very brief time I have been reading LAT I have been very blessed to be reminded that I don’t have to settle for less and there is still time to fix what is not working in my life. As for what I still need help with…. I am so very new, I still need help with everything and feel blessed my friend turned me on to LAT.

  20. Tiffany says:

    I have learned that pain making you strong is okay. In my story before LAT, pain made me strong and capable and gave me character, but my world told me it made me too much. Too independent, too willing to give, too hard working. And that was bad, so apparently I was bad. Because of hanging out at LAT, I have learned that a) I am not bad for being strong and b) that being uniquely me is okay. Watching you be uniquely you, strong and awesome, reminds me I am too. Don’t ever stop!

    • Jennifer says:

      oh, my — thank you!!!!! It’s so nice to know someone else can take a turn being the “strong one!”

      • Tiffany says:

        If we take turns, it will be more fun. And if you can’t have fun with a bunch of growing awesome women, at a place called Life Without Tampons, where can you?

  21. Judy M says:

    I have the problem of More and Other, as well. My precious daughter has taught me to say, “I am BLANK than some people, and not as BLANK as others, but neither one makes me less or more than anyone else.” I especially have to use it for being THINNER THAN SOME PEOPLE AND NOT AS THIN AS OTHERS and for SMARTER THAN SOME PEOPLE AND NOT AS SMART AS OTHERS, and MORE GRACEFUL THAN SOME PEOPLE AND NOT AS GRACEFUL AS OTHERS, etc. etc. etc. This has become my mantra. It truly helps me, and I hope it helps you.

  22. Laura says:

    I had a really rough lesson in high school that kind of tore this type of thing out of me. I had worked REALLY, REALLY hard on an English paper. I got an F because the teacher said it was so good that I must have plagerized it. (how is that word spelled) No amount of argument at any level allowed her to budge. I never really cared after that. I worked to please me as much as to get a “grade”. I never got an award – ever. Since I never got one I guess I don’t miss them. So I work outside of that desire. I work for me and god and my spiritual growth and that’s it.

    • Patty says:

      Laura,
      As I was reading your post it triggered a long forgotten memory for me! I had the same thing happen to me with a 5th grade teacher. I went to Parochial school in the dark ages where teachers, nuns and priests doled out corporal punishment indiscriminately. Needless to say, I no longer embrace or practice this “faith”. I was awarded an F with the same explanation. Fortunately, my parents recognized my writing talent at the time so there were no further repercussions on their part and I did go on to receive a few awards and accolades for my writing since that time. Although I was deeply incensed at the time, I later perceived it as a compliment of the highest order. Even though she was too short sighted to see my ability, she at least recognized the quality of writing. And congratulations for finding the gift in this slight by learning that the most important person we’ll ever need to please is ourselves.

  23. Patty says:

    Jealousy usually causes an ego bruising for me more than anything. But I have found that underneath it all is some measure of doubt about my own worth more than it being a matter of an attitude of entitlement when I find myself comparing myself to another, be it there work, or some sort of acquisition or award that I’m envious of at the time. As for the life long monkey on my back challenge that I am the not so proud recipient of…one that can easily send me right back into the corner where I feel great shame is that I am a serial procrastinator. One of those outlier people who has to treat it the same way anyone with an addiction seeks and maintains sobriety. Having an accountability partner helps as does using the kitchen timer to stay on task and focused. But I still have a penchant for putting myself through my paces a’fore I can actually get myself into that space. With time it has grown easier, but it’s one of those things I will always have to be mindful of. Not unlike alcoholism or any other addiction, I’m one of those “winners” where this issue falls into the Impulse Control Disorder category…not just a bad habit. Fortunately the 12 steps can just as readily be used to manage it so that it doesn’t manage me. And I’m deeply grateful that you share the challenges and vulnerabilities of your journey along with your successes and strengths <3

  24. Bea Jae says:

    LAT has taught me I’m not alone in my struggle for better, happier, kinder etc…and it’s normal and okay, so thank you and God bless you. I still have issues with reconciling past choices with present day consequences, especially when I inventory what I believe my successes are. If I’m so smart and capable, why don’t I have work that fills me and the money to live without coupons? Counting my blessings help me with this, but…I’m still fat too!

  25. Angie says:

    Overcome – I don’t know enough to start…aka learning distraction.

    Need help with – Stifling natural responses, smiling till it HURTS, the duh-duh-duh I don know response when people ask me what I do. Marketing? Ah! Don’t say such scary words!! ;-)

  26. Nancy McGlinchey says:

    I have been unreasonably jealous my whole life up until last year. From coveting the thick braids of a classmate in 3rd grade, to sobbing uncontrollably at a fraternity party thinking by boyfriend had lost interest in me, to hounding my husband for years about potential affairs that he never had, I was often blind-sided by desperate feelings that were, in looking back, simply kicked up by my own imagination.

    I had tried everything I could to shake this destructive emotion and when my husband died in 2007, I thought I had at last outgrown it, but a year later I met another nice man and the episodes started all over again. Does it seem as preposterous to you as it does to me for a 78 year old woman to be jealous of an 88 year old man? It is and it was and I was determined to overcome it.

    At the time I had come across a book called “The Tapping Solution” and had seen the author, Nick Ortner, on TV. The technique is also known as “ETF” and is based on the principles of both ancient acupuncture and modern psychology.

  27. Nancy McGlinchey says:

    To continue my comment – I learned how to “tap” and after a particularly devastating bout of jealousy (with me it was a physical reaction like shaking, heart racing) I spent about half and hour using EFT and slowly my body returned to normal. After a few more sessions, I felt like I was completely cured. It’s a simple thing to do and there are no side effects and certainly worth a try next time you are attacked by your own unreasonable mind and can’t talk yourself out of it.

  28. Nancy McGlinchey says:

    One more thing. It’s EFT and not ETF.

  29. Bianca says:

    I have had/am still having trouble with saying no to others when I need to take care of myself first. I’ve also been working on accepting myself for who I am and not who everyone else thinks I should be. Your website is a constant encouragement to me in these areas as well as many others. :)

  30. Marie says:

    Thank you as usual Jennifer for your insightful blog. I read it the other day and had to think about it on and off before deciding to comment. I honestly believe that most of us, even the most confident, at one time or another feel jealous of someone else (whether it be personal or professional). It definitely seems to bring out the insecurity within us. I have been there so many times in my career. Also, as I work to bring my coaching business to fruition and connect with others in that business once in a while I feel the green eyed monster coming up. I had to learn to think about it and have a conversation with myself. Why am I jealous? Let it sit for a while. Is there something I could be doing differently to increase my business? to advance my career? When I start thinking about steps to take action the jealously goes away. I also think about the things in my life I am grateful for and there is a reason I am in this place at this time. That generally makes the green eyed monster disappear. The more I express gratitude the less I have found I am jealous of others.

  31. Vinnie says:

    Wow you nailed how I feel sometimes. And not just professionally. Sometimes it’s just a Facebook post of somebody being on a vacation that I know I’ll never take. Makes me feel very petty but the feelings are very real. Ugh…

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