Our Self-Image: The Green-Eyed Monster

I briefly researched the origins of envy after hearing a quote in a recent meeting. It is something I may want to spend more on time later because it has an interesting history. For now I am going to write about how it has appeared in my life and the role it plays throughout our lives.

Envy is the act of feeling a discontented or resentful longing aroused by someone else’s possessions, qualities, or luck. It’s common usage origins come from a Greek monk who warned his order against eight thoughts which could interfere with their spiritual practices. Later envy entered mainstream Christianity via St. George in the six century as he developed the idea of the Seven Deadly Sins which are ruled by pride. (See the movie Seven for details.) Envy replaced sloth and became one of the Seven Deadly Sins that Catholicism says can lead to the death of the soul. That is a bit far stretched for me because I believe in the eternity of the soul. Regardless I have always understood the importance of avoiding envy.

To the best of my knowledge, I have not had an issue with envy. This probably comes from my understanding and acceptance of karma. We all have different possessions for different reasons. I may look at someone who has a something which intrigues me, but I do not feel envious. As an adult, I learned there are cultures which see envy as a negative spirit rather than a human thought. For example, in Mexico it is impolite and taboo to say, ” You have a beautiful home, I’m so jealous.” Those words are believed to bring negative energy and unwelcome spirits to the people involved.

Psychologically speaking envy is linked to our own self-image. When we do not have a strong idea or positive view of our personal self-image, envy is the likely result. We feel there is a lack and we are looking to fill the void. I will be happy when I have a body like Chris Hemsworth. I would eat better if I had a personal chef like Oprah. My coworkers are more successful than I am. Once we remember that we do not lack anything for we are perfectly whole, we can move beyond comparison.

As a child, I knew appearances could be deceiving. Perhaps it came from my dysfunctional family portraying the ideal family. My keen empathy and psychic awareness definitely allowed me to “see” the truths behind many people. Although the grass may be greener on the other side, we were not all meant to have grass. Some of us live near the beach or in the desert where we have sand not grass. Whenever I want something different for myself, I have to want to change it for myself. This sounds ideal and simple, but my ego can still step in to misdirect me. It is just another part of my journey through life.

What struck me this week, was the quote stating comparison is the thief of joy. This is absolutely true. Honestly anything which distracts us from the present moment is a thief. It takes our energy away from the here and now to spend it on frivolous thoughts. There is no past or future, joy cannot live there. Joy is only truly experienced in the present moment. We experience joy through many parts of life such as stillness, unconditional love, and self acceptance. These help us to keep the green-eyed monster at bay. At the very least, do not compare yourself to anyone else and do not accept envy from others. There is no need to steal joy from the present moment.

“O, beware, my lord, of jealousy; It is the green-eyed monster which doth mock the meat it feeds on…”

William Shakespeare, Othello

Spiritual Discernment

There are a multitude of spiritual teachings based on the duality of life. The yin and yang, light and darkness, male and female to name a few. Personally I am a believer in the delicate balances throughout life. Unfortunately this belief is not enough to navigate and understand life fully. Particularly during times of stress and despair when we are hardest on ourselves and feel alone.

Most of us have heard some of the following, if not all:

If you love someone set them free.

Love is always worth fighting for never give up.

When you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.

Let go and let God.

Silence is golden.

Always speak your truth.

Forget the past.

Learn from the past.

A good scroll on my Instagram feed has me confused as hell. Do I stop to rest or do I keep going? Let go or give it everything I have? Iced or hot? Team Cap or Team Iron Man? All of these messages and quotes are confusing and contradictory at times. This is when we need to use our personal discernment. There is no road map or app to help with this process. It is up to us to take a step back and listen to our higher self, the authentic self. Logic alone will not provide the answers, nor will following the heart. An alignment of the mind, body, and spirit are required to help us determine the best course of action for the situation at hand. Not surprisingly writing about this is much easier than living it.

I had a coworker who wasn’t the most reliable of friends, but she would bail you out of jail. She met a man and basically disappeared. I eventually stopped texting her and I have not heard from her in over a year. Although she was there through my divorce and my first attempts at dating, I was able to let our friendship go. Perhaps we were only meant to know each other for a brief period of time. On the other hand I lost a romantic relationship at the beginning of this year. It pains me each and every single day. The grief has been worse than my divorce. I understand there may never be a resolve between us, but I keep hanging on to hope. I decided to put this into the category of a love worth fighting for.

My personal discernment with the friendship allowed me to let go and move on from the situation which was causing me stress. However, it did not direct me in the same direction for my romantic relationship. What’s the difference? Friendship vs romantic love? Was the friendship not as valuable? Is there actually hope? Or am I just not ready? Will I ever be ready to look at this situation differently? I honestly do not know. Time will tell and in the mean time I am practicing living in the present moment.

Discernment is defined as the ability to judge well. I find this interesting because discernment is conducted by a person with feelings, opinions, and biases. Is it ever possible for us to judge well? This opens up an entirely different blog topic for another day.

SPIRITUAL discernment is a personal process. I personally believe it is best conducted through prayer, meditation, and mindfulness. Take a pause, meet your self in the silence, and then begin to process the situation at hand. Most importantly be easy on yourself.

Discernment (in Christian contexts) perception in the absence of judgment with a view

to obtaining spiritual guidance and understanding.

“without providing for a time of healing and discernment, there will be no hope of living through
this present moment without a shattering of our common life”