The High 5 Habit: Dealing With Jealousy

October 18, 2021

Extracted from her new book, Mel Robbins looks at why life can seem to be so much easier for some than others – and why we need to break free from this harmful cycle


For a long time, jealousy was a problem for me. Anger and frustration would literally consume me. I remember this time when a friend of ours bought a beautiful house and threw a big party to celebrate. Walking in that door, into a home that was five times the size of ours, at a time when we had little kids and could barely pay our mortgage, I thought I was going to self-combust.

I was so jealous that I could barely contain it, and I did what too many of us do: I aimed it right at my husband. On the ride home, we got into a big fight because I started crying over the fact that ‘We’d never have a home that nice’.

I had this toxic belief that if someone else has what I want, it means I will never have it. I didn’t understand jealousy or how to use it to my advantage, so it just triggered all my insecurities. If you live your life in constant, unrelenting, grinding comparison to others, always finding yourself wanting, you will never be able to see yourself as capable of making it happen too. Other people will be the heroes while you sit on the sidelines, watching what they do. This is one reason jealousy can be so depressing if you allow yourself to wallow in it. I want you to know how extremely useful and important it can be too.

Here are some things I hear people say when they feel jealous: Everyone is winning at the game of life, and I’m always left holding the crappiest hand. It’s not fair… I’m so sick of hearing about everybody else’s fast metabolism, relaxing vacations, fancy home renovations, and amazing dogs who don’t chew the couch… I wanted ALL that. Oh! Here she is again with her “I’ve lost the weight and I’ve got it all” posts… If I had a trainer, I’d look like that too… If he says “It’s so easy for me” one more time… I had the idea to start Uber 10 YEARS ago. I was getting around to it… It’s so much easier when you don’t have kids… If only my husband understood me… I’ve had a much harder life, and I don’t go flaunting it… Anyone can use a social media filter, try showing up IRL looking that good… Everyone is outdoing me and there’s no room for me to shine. It’s all over for me. I realize, now, that I wanted their success to be MY success. But they’ve grabbed all the success and it’s too late for me to win. I’ll just sit here and stew in my inferiority.

The truth is, at one point or another, everyone has felt like the dream version of their life was stolen from them.

With this kind of self-talk, we mentally shut the doors to what we want because someone else already did it. We give up on ourselves. Jealousy takes over and instead of cheering for the life you want, you start the death spiral of horrible thoughts and feelings about yourself.

I want you to understand that jealousy is an indicator that you can and should have that thing you are craving. I’m going to give you some tools to switch your mindset so you can become more excited about your future and have the strength to build the life you want. But first, I want you to take a good look at how you perceive success. Do you believe success, happiness, and love are in limited supply? I believed that for a long time, and it kept me stuck. I thought that if there’s only so much success and happiness to go around, there isn’t enough for me.

Once I understood that happiness and success are limitless and they are for everyone (everyone!), I began to build the courage and conviction that I was going to get my version of it. That thought alone loosened the reins for me to stop stewing in my jealousy and start doing the work to get what I want.

All our lives we’re told, ‘Don’t be jealous’ like it’s something to be ashamed of – as if it’s unseemly, petty, and wrong. But jealousy is simply blocked desire. If you could flip that jealousy into inspiration, the block would disappear. If you could celebrate jealousy as a sign of your next big step in life, it immediately lifts the burden of frustration and insecurity you feel, and gets you moving forward with a high five attitude again.

To understand how this whole jealousy thing works and how you can turn it into inspiration, it’s only appropriate that we start at the murky swamp of jealousy, self-hatred, low self-worth, and overwhelming self-doubt. The truth no one tells you about jealousy.


The truth about jealousy

You need to learn that all those other people haven’t beat you to it. They’re lighting the path and could be high fiving you along the way. Look at yourself in the mirror and instead of seeing a loser, see it like it really is: see yourself as your ally in making it happen. Accept yourself as your best partner in life and you will be amazed at the other partnerships you form to get the thing you are burning to have. See the potential in life and you change; you become somebody who can high five your way forward instead of stewing in jealousy.

In any area of your life where you feel jealous, you’re going to flip it into inspiration.

Current Limiting Belief: If somebody else has it, I can’t
Flip It: Their success is just proof that I can have it too

Jealousy is telling you something. Just for a moment, notice who you’re jealous of, someone in your life or someone you admire from a distance. Now think of that jealous feeling as a signal trying to get your attention. Don’t turn away from the jealousy you feel. Don’t try to hide it, and don’t let it scare or shame you. Turn toward it because it is the fastest way to figure out what you want.

Jealousy is a navigation tool, just like curiosity or desire. It is telling you the direction to steer your life. Tomorrow, when you stand in front of that mirror, let that high five symbolise your commitment to work for what you want. To deserve it. And to empower yourself to go get it.

When you see someone else doing something that you desire, you may feel pain. Most of us let that pain keep us stuck. You must use it to your advantage. Flip it to inspire change. That one action alone transforms jealousy into inspiration.

Seeing more evidence of what you want will help you make that change, knowing that it could happen for you too. Take a step toward what you want and the jealousy will disappear, and what’s meant for you will be one step closer to finding you.

Here’s how YOU can start to do this, particularly if you’re not sure of what you want:

Look again at the people in your life. Who are you jealous of? Maybe you’re jealous of their energy, enthusiasm, and positive attitude. Maybe you’re jealous of their YouTube channel or the business they’ve built. Maybe it’s their tight group of friends or the nonprofit they started. Maybe it’s how they take care of their health, their lifestyle, their authenticity, where they live, or the fact that they are constantly trying new things and putting themselves out there.

Now go deep: surrender to the pull of your desire. Don’t sit and drown in your jealousy. Unpack it. What is it specifically about this person’s life or career that makes you jealous?

Normally we allow our jealousy to make us feel insecure. We invalidate ourselves because we see what other people are doing, or what they have, and we make ourselves wrong for wanting it. That’s because you don’t believe you’re capable of making it happen for yourself.

Your friend’s kitchen renovation makes you feel bad about your dumpy kitchen, and then that makes you mad at your partner because the two of you haven’t prioritised saving money so you can update your house. As I already confessed, this happened to me a lot when my partner Chris and I were struggling financially. Any friend who was buying new furniture, putting on an addition, or taking an awesome vacation made me insanely jealous because I doubted my ability to create those things for myself.

I was so sad as I told myself, ‘We’ll never have a life like that’. Looking back, I can tell you exactly what was going on: It had nothing to do with the house and nothing to do with Chris. It had to do with my desire to be successful enough to afford something that nice, and my ambition. And at the time I was not embracing my ambition. I was pressuring Chris to advance his career, make more money, and give me what I wanted. But your desires are your responsibility, not someone else’s. If you want financial abundance, being horrible to your spouse isn’t going to create it. Looking at yourself in the mirror and being honest about what you want – that’s how you get it.

Or maybe your friend’s kitchen doesn’t trigger you. Maybe it’s your brother’s health transformation that sends you into a tizzy. He’s been documenting it on Facebook, which makes you wish you had started exercising a year ago. At first his posts inspired you, but now you’re getting annoyed as you see the weight shedding. You even find yourself starting to roll your eyes at how happy and enthusiastic he seems online.

If you’re feeling jealousy and cattiness when you see your brother’s posts, it means you want that. You’re just blocked by self-doubt. Once you start to see this push-pull of your desires – meaning your desires are pulling you toward it but your doubt or fear keeps pushing it away – you’ll start to see it everywhere. You want what’s meant for you so badly that it hurts when you’re reminded that you don’t have it… yet.

Perhaps your last child has left for university and you’re now an empty nester. You cherish those years when you were able to stay home with your kids. But now, all of your girlfriends who worked while raising kids make you feel extremely insecure and jealous. Your CV has a 20-year hole in it, and you have no idea where to begin. Not knowing what to do is not an excuse to not do something.

The first thing you need to do is follow that pull and reach out and start talking to those friends, and other people in your life, about this next chapter that you clearly desire to create for yourself. It’s easier to be envious of other people, or judgy of them, than to admit to yourself that there is something missing from your life. If you don’t take action, your self-doubt and jealousy will only continue to build. You’re meant to do something incredible with this next chapter of your life. That’s what is meant for you. Don’t allow jealousy to block you. Just flip it into inspiration and go looking for that something.


About the author:

This feature has been extracted from The High 5 Habit: Take Control of Your Life with One Simple Habit by Mel Robbins (£19.99, Hay House), available now.
Mel Robbins is the leading female voice in personal development and transformation. She’s an international bestselling author whose work includes the global phenomenon The 5 Second Rule, four #1 audiobooks, the #1 podcast on Audible, Start Here, as well as signature online courses that have changed the lives of more than half a million students worldwide. Mel’s coaching reaches more than 60 million people every month and videos featuring her work have more than a billion views online, including her TEDx talk, which is one of the most popular of all time.

Posted by: Leah Russell