BY MPHO KUHLMANN
Almost every reading this article has either gone to bed pouting over a friends new acquisition or woken up jealous and cranky because a friend’s life seemed to be going better than theirs. Most can relate to that stomach churn when a friend shares with them their good news.
Envy and jealousy are such universal sentiments that they have earned a place in the first chapter of the Bible immediately after the story of creation.
Ever since ever since Cain killed his kid brother in a jealous rage, mankind has been wrestling with this green eyed monster and Botswana has had its fair share of the tussle. In fact, envy and jealousy are something of a national crisis and have on numerous occasions been the subject of parliamentary debates. The National Assembly Hansard has volumes on debates about “the Pull Her/him Down Syndrome.”
Assistant Minister Phillip Makgalemele has even tabled a motion in parliament asking government to appoint a commission of enquiry into envy and jealousy (lefufa).
Dr Sethunya Mosime, senior Sociology lecturer at the University of Botswana says “Jealousy stems from insecurity, plain and simple. Jealous people covet desired things that others hold. It could be love, financial security, status, lifestyle, success, popularity, independence, self-control, freedom, happiness or anything held of high personal value to the person who becomes jealous.Because this person similar to you has the thing you covet, they imagine having it, too. Their sober judgment was that it was unobtainable. But now that you have it, they can almost taste it. Jealousy is getting worse, because of how we view ourselves in society. I believe that in today’s world we have been told that we have to sell ourselves. We push our greatness on people and show others our own value. Bragging about our earnings, purchases, holidays and anything that will make us sound awesome. Being jealous is not about what others have, it is the feeling of not being worthy, of failing to make it as good as the person they feel resentful at. The hate of their failure spurs the need to be jealous of other more successful people, whether in money, love or career.”
Friends are friends forever – or until one of them becomes more successful. People are drawn to each other by the things they have in common, and this is especially true in friendships. But when one friend starts having more than the other – whether it’s more money, job prestige or even more romance, the green eyed monster would most likely rear its ugly head.
Sometimes when those close to us reach a level of success in their careers or personal life, we tend to wonder why we are not as fortunate,however, jealousy becomes problematic in our relationships with others when we feel resentment, the need to punish, and/or take away something from another. We accept that strangers are successful, but we just don’t like to see our, old friend, a former classmate, and sometimes even our own siblings succeed, though we genuinely care for and love them. The foundation of most friendships starts with the perception that you are each other’s equal and that balance is shifted when one party is successful while the other is not.
Ms Pontsho Leagilwe at Por Vida Counselling in Gaborone says “There are many negative and emotionally destructive feelings out there in the world and envy and jealousy are some of them. If left alone to just simmer and grow, they can really do a lot of damage to how we feel about life, and how we love, (or don’t love) ourselves. It mostly certainly can stunt our own growth as we attempt to pursue a life we’re content with. Envy occurs when we lack a desired attribute enjoyed by another. Jealousy occurs when something we already possess (usually a special relationship) is threatened by a third person. Although quite similar, but not exactly the same, envy is all about what we don’t have, and it’s that thing we don’t have that we seem others around us enjoying. Whenever we are going through anything dark, like jealousy, envy, anger, vengeance, disgust or fear we fail to realize so easily that we potentially have many more blessings then we do negative things.”
Jealousy typically comes when admiration or desire to emulate take a turn for the worse or descends into to “the dark side”. It’s when one moves from simply wishing they had a man as handsome and caring as their girlfriend’s, to actually wishing they’d break up, or attempting to cause them to do so. It’s when one becomes so absorbed with what their friend has or does that they can no longer focus on what they need to be doing with their own life.
Tebo Bosupeng who works at Bona Outdoor Advertising in Gaborone says “people who will envy you the most are the ones who are in need the most of what you posses. For example, your millionaire friend will never envy you if you bought a new average priced car but your friend who has no car is the one who will most likely be jealous of you. Not all the people in need will become jealous or envious but only those who have personal weakness, self doubts and low self-esteem will be jealous of you.”
Koketso Mogaladi a second year student at the University of Botswana says “They say that tough times are when you find out who your real friends are but I contend that you actually find out just as much when you’re experiencing success. Some friends like you the way you were; the one who was lonely, unfulfilled, and struggling right alongside them, and when your world starts to expand it makes them uncomfortable. In some cases, they want to keep you small so they’ll start trying to cut you down to size so their world feels “right” yet again.