Human Stories

The beauty of jealousy

Here is a story from one of our connecting2life trainer: Marije Roos (who leads the ‘Connecting with Children’ course):

Jealousy… such a painful feeling. In my inner hierarchy, I don’t consider this feeling as a very ‘cool’ feeling… And yet, it is a feeling, and I imagine we all know moments when this feeling is there, living and kicking.
We might not want to feel it or might feel shame around having it. Often I notice myself having thoughts over it such as: “I shouldn’t feel this”, “I’m needy”, “I should be already more spiritual”, etc.
Having those thoughts makes the whole experience even more painful.

I wish I grew up in a society where feelings- painful or pleasurable- are welcome. I wish I learned (from the moment I entered this life) that there is a room for all feelings to be felt, experienced and expressed. I wish I learned to trust feelings, seeing them as a door to a precious needs.

Here below is a ‘Navigating jealousy’ story where the protagonists are myself with my 2 young children.

Navigating Jealousy: 

I have two young children: The oldest, Zaya, 3 years old and the youngest, Ronja, 1 year old.
As you can imagine there have been much jealousy going on between them and especially for Zaya from the day Ronja was born.

Their aunty from Bulgaria came over for a visit. Zaya was super excited for this visit. One of the days we went out all together for a coffee, Ronja who was just starting to walk was proudly showing her moves. Everyone was applauding, excited and smiling at her. Than Zaya hit Ronja on the head.

I felt anger, it was not the first hit that day, and I so wanted to protect Ronja’s safety. I took a few deep breaths before reacting, as I know: Each time I react toward Zaya with anger, I see clearly it doesn’t create the effect I hope to see (to say the least). So I took a moment to connect to what was going on inside of me. I had a wish to honor the anger that came in me. It is there to care for the safety of my children!! And, at the same time- I know that when Zaya acts like this, there is something going on for her and she doesn’t always have the words to express it. So I was moved to tend to her and said: “when I see you hit your sister I’m worried, I so want to keep both of you safe!!”
I took another breath, and asked:  “Do you want to sit together for a moment to tell me what is going on for you?”
She said yes and we sat aside from the group.
“Are you angry?” I asked.
“Yes,” she replied.
“Do you feel jealous when Ronja gets attention? Do you also want everyone to look at you, and applause for you?”
 “Yes,” She replied “I want to jump with aunty Julia from the stairs like we did before!”
So we went to ask aunty Julia if she wanted to play with Zaya, and they had some jolly good time together.

I don’t like when Zaya is hitting. And, it is heartbreaking to imagine myself only being angry with her hitting Ronja, without connecting to this tender part of her who is so excited to see aunty Julia and sooooo wanting connection with her.
From my upbringing I learned to punish children for “bad” behavior. But I see now that me being punished for my bad behaviors left in me one of the most painful patterns in my adult life: GUILT.

When I see the fullness in which Zaya expresses her Anger (that comes from the vulnerability of jealousy) it touches my own pain- how much I long for someone to stay with me and see the beauty in me feeling jealous… and support me to find the life serving words (and acts) to live the love and the longing for connection that is bursting in my heart.
I take it as a value and a deep practice:  When I don’t like my children’s behavior, to ask myself: What is the beauty of the Anger now? What could be the intention (need) behind their behavior? And how I can support them to nourish their needs while caring for all of us.
By doing that I actually address something deeper:
What values do I want my children to learn through this exchange? How to dialogue (how human beings live together on the planet) in ways that meets as many needs as possible?

It is somewhat easier for me to see the beauty of jealousy living in my child, than seeing the beauty of jealousy when it comes in me (or in other adults who are close to me). I find it really a pity.