Dear Vicki: I’m writing because my good friend Jessie has recently started complaining a lot about her sister. The sister has a new job and according to Jessie, she never calls her anymore, won’t do her share at family gatherings, seems snobby, etc. I know her sister and she’s a kind and very logical person, so suspect this isn’t true. I also know that Jessie lost her job a few years ago and while she’s told me she loves the free time, I’m wondering if Jessie is jealous of her sister’s new job. I’m pretty sure Jessie is a Wood (she managed a big box store), and I have no idea what her sister is. Maybe a Metal? Her new job is with a financial firm. Is there a specific element that gets jealous? And how can I help Jessie? Signed, The Sounding Board
Dear Sounding Board: First, Jessie is very lucky to have you in her life. We all need people to listen to us and I think what’s happening for Jessie is that she’s processing how she feels about the fact that she doesn’t have a job anymore and now her sister does. This is sure to cause Jessie to re-live the loss of her own job and probably re-evaluate whether the free time has been the great opportunity she thinks it is. And if Jessie is a Wood, this won’t be a pleasant experience for her because Woods don’t like looking back; life is all about the future and moving forward for them. As Jessie ponders her sister’s new job, she is likely to see it as an indication that her sister is successfully moving forward while she is not. Personal accomplishment matters a great deal to Woods and in our culture accomplishment is usually tied to our occupation. This is especially true for Woods.
Further, if Jessie’s sister is a Metal, it will make the whole dynamic even more unpleasant for Jessie because Metal relates to Wood on the Controlling Cycle. Even without words, Jessie will feel a subtle sense of being controlled by her sister because that’s what Metal does to Wood. Because anything that causes a Wood to feel held back or stuck is viewed as a problem, this could be the dynamic prompting Jessie’s inaccurate criticism of her sister. We’ve all had times when we feel unhappy and projecting the blame onto something other than ourselves, be that another person, a situation, a lost opportunity, etc.
This is likely what Jessie is going through, but you can help her by listening to her as she comes to grips with her feelings. Also, it will help if you can point out what she’s accomplished since losing her job. Has she done volunteer work? Improved her home? Read a series of great books? As a Wood, Jessie won’t have been content sitting around, so if you can remind her of all the positive things she’s done since leaving the work force, that will help a great deal. Jessie probably has lots of ways she succeeds in her current life and having a good friend highlight those for her will be an excellent way to re-direct her energy away from comparing herself to her sister and toward acknowledging her own successes. You can also help her determine if she isn’t feeling as fulfilled as she would like, and if so, what she might do about that. Anything involving planning plays to a Wood’s strengths, so Jessie will likely jump on board with that.
Finally, I want to address your question regarding whether there is a specific element that feels jealousy more than the others. In truth, each element can become jealous when in an out of balance state. But what prompts that jealousy will differ by element and be based on what that element values. For example, an unhappy Wood might envy someone else’s success, as Jessie has demonstrated, whereas a stressed Fire might be jealous of a well-known person’s fame or the attention being paid them. An unbalanced Earth might envy a friend’s good marriage or large family, and a stuck Metal might be jealous of colleague’s ability to understand a process that has eluded them. And Waters, while perhaps the least likely to become jealous of someone else, can go there if unbalanced enough and faced with a brilliant new theory that they didn’t develop.
The bottom line is that we can all spend time with the legendary green-eyed monster of envy. The trick is to understand why it has snared us and then find a way to move on. Hopefully, you will be able to do this for your friend Jessie. Blessings to you!