How to Deal With Jealous Friends and Family

The ones you consider to be close aren’t immune to the feelings that jealousy and envy bring about.

We compete with our friends – and even members of our family – as we chase the varying performance metrics that define our lives. Knowing how to deal with jealous people is a skill which can protect your most stable relationships from falling apart.

Two recent graduates will measure themselves up against one another whilst attempting to find their first job. Two brothers will stay out late at the local park as they respectively attempt to crown themselves as the better basketball player of the two.

The feelings of jealousy and envy seem to follow competition wherever it goes. As you sit reading these words, think back to the times you’ve felt feelings of jealousy coming from those who you call close. You may have acted kindly toward them and remained a loyal friend. However, your respective levels of success may have proved to be enough in triggering feelings of unworthiness and envy in people whom you would never expect to be bridled by such feelings.

Concepts of Friendship and Family Raise the Level of Difficulty in Dealing With Such Feelings

Handling jealousy from friends and family places us in a delicate position. Above all, there is a relationship to maintain. Guiding their feelings down to a common, unemotional understanding and camaraderie, involves performing a series of corrective actions on your end. To simply ignore jealousy and envy from people you’ve grown intimate relationships with doesn’t reverse the breeding of resentment. Ignorance in the face of such divisive feelings does not seem to be the correct approach to take.

Jealousy creeps in when we see others, who were once on our level of success in any particular domain, climbing up the steps of modern survival and prosperity faster than we are. Jealousy is thereby birthed by way of many triggers, but often comprises of the perfect marriage of similaritycompetition, and a lack of perceived fairness. The advice below is predicated on these notions.

This article makes the assumption that you do not seek to propagate feelings of jealousy in close friends and family.

Though you may find a twisted pleasure from making those around you jealous of your success, the results of fueling such nefarious desires are seldom favorable.

How to Handle Jealous / Envious People: Your Outlook Matters

We get envious of those whom we view as beatable in the particular domains we compete in. You can feel envious of a colleague receiving praise from your mutual manager, or even a millionaire driving his luxury sports car down the street on your way home from work. It’s true that the colleague and the millionaire would share differing levels of success. Your feeling of envy in the case of the millionaire thereby, would need to be based on the notion of realistically yearning to be in their shoes, with reality painfully dictating otherwise.

It is for similar reasons (seeing themselves in your shoes) that family and friends are prime suspects in being envious of your accomplishments – as they are typically in a similar social, professional, and economic bracket as you are.

They perceive themselves being similar to you. Any perceived lapse in fairness is thereby at risk of morphing into jealousy. The accomplishments you attain should be turned into motivation for them before jealousy can creep into their minds. They should feel that your accomplishments are attainable and not as romantic as they appear to be.

Noticing jealousy from close friends and family involves knowing common triggers for its birth. Develop a sense of feeling people out for envious or jealous traits. First, familiarize yourself with the common scenarios in which jealousy develops, as mentioned above (perceived similarities, perceived lack of fairness). Watch out for those who seek to be in your shoes as they find themselves wearing the shoes you’ve already thrown away.

Below, is a sample of general patterns and examples that people exhibit when they’re jealous of your accomplishments:

  • Their encouragement does not match the average level of encouragement from others
  • As new people begin to come into your life due to your success, jealous ones begin to fade into the shadows
  • General behavior of downplaying your good actions and ideas (subtle verbal jabs, one upping comments, excuses for your successes, etc.)
  • Seeing that you’re clever in one area, they’ll attempt to prove your lack of intellect in other areas (not taking your input seriously)
  • Favorable or not, your successes become a consistent topic of conversation

Especially when dealing with close friends and relatives, jealousy can put strains on the relationships which are worth much more than the pride of being victorious in a certain pursuit. Jealous people can be erratic, and can cause damage by way of many acts.

When you feel jealousy manifest from your close friends and relatives, begin work to dissipate it quickly.

Prior to beginning though:

Prime yourself with a general outlook of the situation at hand. Don’t attempt to blame anyone for being jealous, and don’t make judgments on their intention merely based on their jealousy of your achievements. Your goals here, should be to preserve a good relationship whilst dissipating the feelings of jealousy which plague it.

The first step to dealing with jealousy from your friends and family is to not react to any statements, remarks, looks, emotions, or blatant ill-willed acts. Treat the actions which stem out of their jealous ways as you would with a child misbehaving. Ignore their bashful attempts at pulling you back down to their level of competition by recognizing their efforts to do so immediately. Take a minute to establish motivations for the edgy behavior of those you suspect to be operating with jealousy. We wary of reacting and encouraging the growth of ill will. Act as a sponge first, and collect uninterrupted evidence.

Do not call out another person’s jealousy. You should not let it be known that you are aware of their jealous emotions and the actions which are motivated by those emotions. Once you recognize that someone’s actions may be rooted in jealousy towards some of your accomplishments, move on to downplay those accomplishments in any way you can.

Get the document of cases / examples which demonstrate the methods outlined in this article:
See the details of the downloadable document here.

Normalizing Accomplishments in Front of Jealous People

Your various accomplishments in your chosen domains are what will give rise to jealousy in friends and family. Accomplishments however, are defined by a wide variety of metrics depending on who you ask.

Friends may get jealous of a new position that you landed, serving to propel you ahead of them on the corporate ladder. A sibling may perceive your new car to be a reminder of them not doing well financially. Your own mother can perceive you spending more time with your mother in law to be offensive.

Jealousy, accomplishments, and new material possessions exist in a loving relationship. The things, people, and skills you add to your life will rustle feathers and muddy waters. As a preventative measure, try to keep your accomplishments, growths, successes, and victories under wraps as much as possible. Don’t appear overly prideful of how your life is shaping out to be. Operate from a place of constant self improvement and consistent growth. In doing so, you’ll remain hungry for more, thereby never finding yourself overly satisfied / satiated with what you attain.

That internal personal philosophy will do well to limit jealous and envious feelings from those in your external world. The goal, from the perspective of limiting seeds of envy to sprout into damaging vines, is to downplay the positive metrics you attain in life from their perspective.

When friends and family do find out about your accomplishments – and they often will – ensure that you verbally downplay all of the ones which may reinforce, or give birth to, feelings of jealousy within them. Dig into your philosophy of constantly improving and never being satisfied for material which would be successful in downplaying your successes.

Mention that your wins look better than they actually feel, and make others believe that you are not in any way happier than you were before. It’s critical to voice some of the darker truths of your successes. Mention how lucky you got along the way, as luck is more difficult to feel jealous toward than proven skill. Mention how much help you’ve received from others along the way, and that you’re not the sole controller of how well your life’s been going.

Feelings of jealousy stem from people not having what they want, and the approach of downplaying your accomplishments aims to dismiss those things as sought-after winnings. Aim to make the jealous people in your life want what you have a little less.

Mention the negatives, instances in which you weren’t in control of your successes, and the introduction on stressful responsibilities which would entice them to think twice about wanting the things which you worked hard to achieve.

Don’t be ungrateful in your attempts to contextualize your accomplishments, simply yearn to pull them back to normalcy. 

This is not a fool-proof method, and there are times when people want to achieve the same accomplishments as you did even more, once you share information with them. Examples of this are people who become interested in acquiring a real estate broker’s license after you sell your client’s house, or those who register a domain for a blog once you show them all the visitors yours gets.

Get the document of cases / examples which demonstrate the methods outlined in this article:
See the details of the downloadable document here.

Making Your Wins Seem Attainable

The feeling of your accomplishments seeming difficult to attain is another major driver of jealousy and envy on those around you.

As you try to downplay your accomplishments, you may find that approach to not be working in limiting the envy that those around you feel. Such individuals would have their sights set on attaining what you have, and until they do, they’ll resent you for accomplishing before them. An approach which seems to work well with the overly-dedicated, is to smooth over the edges of their envy by making them honestly believe that they can achieve what you have. When jealous / envious people continue being persistent in their envy-fueled inquiries into your accomplishments, make your accomplishments seem attainable to them.

Be open and honest in what you did to achieve the things they desire to achieve as well, and be genuinely helpful in advising them of achieving the same. Be confident enough in your own skill set by teaching others how to fish for themselves. Perhaps the most effective way of curbing jealousy, especially in close friends and family, is to be open in regards to how you’ve attained what they so desire.

Remember, the words you’re reading here are written for the context of navigating envious / jealous friends and family. Your kindhearted approach in allowing them to learn what they can from you will fit into the social context, and would do well in alleviating the stress of envious members of your social circle. Seek to answer the questions that they have for you. Selfishness in the midst of handling jealousy from others will result in exacerbating their ill feelings toward you. If they ask overly personal questions, practice the art of deflecting those questions by countering with even more intriguing questions to explore.

A simple example of this is answering the question of, “How much money did you make last month?”

Deflecting such a question can involve saying, “I’m not going to tell you, but I can tell you the things I did in the process of earning my income.” By doing so, you make your wins seem attainable to all without exposing any overly sensitive information to those who ask.

By making your accomplishments seem attainable, you’ll serve to deflect others’ willingness to compete with you. The people you interact with will begin to think of your accomplishments to be disassociated with you, rather than considering you to be the sole owner of what you’ve achieved. They’ll begin to realize that accomplishments are out there for many (including them) to achieve, if they know what to do and how to do it.

Information in this case would be a worthy trade to make for the lessening of ill will from those whom you call close. They’ll be less motivated by jealousy, and more by intrigue. Motivation grows the more attainable we believe our goals to be, and seeing someone else tell us that we are on the right path raises that level of motivation while eliminating the jealousy which is propagated by sour ignorance.

Get the document of cases / examples which demonstrate the methods outlined in this article:
See the details of the downloadable document here.

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Disclaimer of Opinion: This article is presented only as opinion. It does not make any scientific, factual, or legal claims. Please critically analyze all claims made and independently decide on its validity.