By K W Warburton, The Reluctant Spoonie

I have always been a jealous person. As a child, I was jealous of others because I often wasn’t allowed to go to parties or go on school trips. I had major FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out). There were even certain foods that I wasn’t allowed to eat (parental control not allergy reasons) and I was jealous of those who got to eat them every day. I was not able to manage my feelings of jealousy and they engulfed me. Which made me very unhappy. When I turned 18 and left home, I did not experience this feeling anymore. I could do what I wanted. I could eat what I wanted. My life was not limited and I could live it how I wanted. That was until I became bedbound with a chronic illness at the age of 22. My life became limited and controlled again.

group of woman lying on blanket eating lollipops
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When I first developed my chronic illness, I could not do any of the things that I desired. I could not even leave my pokey one-bed flat. That feeling of jealousy returned. It started as a small flutter in my stomach, but soon grew and engulfed my everyday life again.

Growing jealousy

I felt jealous when everyone in my class graduated and I was in the hospital that day. Then, I was jealous of my friend who was able to do a PhD when I hadn’t even been able to finish my master’s degree. I was jealous of those who went travelling after graduation. Moreover, I was even jealous of those who still worked their crappy part-time jobs. I had major FOMO, even though I was doing something productive: I was letting my body rest and heal from a serious illness.

accomplishment ceremony education graduation
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When I entered the chronic illness community, I was jealous of those who had a diagnosis. I was jealous of those who had access to medications and treatments that I didn’t.

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Jealousy is common if you have always compared yourself to your peers. It consumes you to the point where you are never satisfied with what you have. You always want what someone else has.

How do I manage my feelings of jealousy to live a more peaceful life?

1. De-centre yourself

black woman sitting on grass with notebook
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Ask yourself if it is something that you personally want in your life. If the answer is yes, make a plan to obtain it for yourself in a way that is adapted for your personal circumstances. However, if it is something that you want, but can’t have for whatever reason, see if you can find an alternative that will fulfil your needs in the same way.

If the answer is no, then you can let go of the feelings of jealousy and de-centre yourself. Allow yourself to be happy for the person who graduated/got a new job/ bought a car etc. One way that I let go of my jealous feelings is by sending a congratulations card to the person.

2. Focus on things you enjoy

crop artisan pulling thread while knitting clothes at home
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Jealously is an unpleasant feeling that can take away from the things that you enjoy. Schedule time in your day/week for a hobby or activity that you enjoy.

3. Stop comparing yourself to other people

motivational quotes
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Reduce the time that you spend on social media. Remember that social media is a highlight reel of someone’s life and they will only be sharing the positive moments from it. Non-disabled people do not face the systemic barriers that disabled people face. Therefore, they will be seen to be ‘progressing’ in life at a faster pace. Set your own goals and targets to achieve fulfilment in your life at your own pace.

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How do you manage feelings of jealousy?

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