What is this I feel?
October 9, 2013 7:30 AM   Subscribe

Please describe to me what jealousy is. What is the difference between the feeling of jealousy and the feeling of injustice. I am accused of being jealous, I am not sure that is what I am, If I am indeed jealous, I want to correct it. Help. Oh, I'm in my mid-40s, not a kid so I need a more clinical description.
posted by Yellow to Human Relations (37 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Jealousy is when you closely guard a thing/person you covet so that no other person separates that thing/person from you. It manifests in resentment toward real/perceived threats to your possession of/relationship with the thing/person. It also manifests in suspicion toward both the threat and the thing/person. It's a form of control and pretty destructive.

Injustice isn't necessarily about anyone/anything you have a personal relationship with at all. You can believe that oil-covered ducks are suffering unjustly in Louisiana without resenting BP workers or accusing your partner of killing ducks when he drives.
posted by headnsouth at 7:43 AM on October 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

My simplest explanation of jealousy is that you have a toy which, even when you are not playing with it, you will not allow anyone else to play with it. In relationships, this may not mean sexually. It may mean that when you are not with the other person, you still don't want that other person to interact with anyone else, including friends, coworkers, or, family.

Broad, and very simplified. But, I don't have much to go on.
posted by kellyblah at 7:44 AM on October 9, 2013 [2 favorites]

Jealousy is distinguished from envy, as well. If you are envious of someone, you wish you ALSO had what they have- I wish I had a car like that, I wish I loved my job that much, I wish my wife was that sweet. Jealousy, however, means you wish you had something INSTEAD OF the person who has it. He doesn't deserve that car, or wife, or job- they ought to be mine instead!

Now, a 'feeling of injustice' would be if someone stole something from you, and you wanted it back. That car was mine/should have been mine and he took it. But I can see it being easy to get these two concepts mixed up in your head. You may FEEL that something was stolen from you, when in actuality it was merely the luck of the draw, or someone else's choice not to be with you, or someone else did better on a performance review and was promoted, etc.

So you need to be clear in your own mind about what injustice you feel has been done to you, and whether it is REALLY injustice, or whether you merely wish things had turned out differently than they did.
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:52 AM on October 9, 2013 [12 favorites]

It sounds like you might be describing envy and perhaps resentment, not jealousy.

I've noticed that these days it's more common to use "you're just jealous because..." instead of "you're just envious because..."
posted by Feel the beat of the rhythm of the night at 7:52 AM on October 9, 2013

Jealousy is, at the heart of it all, a fear of losing something.
posted by Jairus at 7:53 AM on October 9, 2013 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Perhaps I should clarify.
I am not afraid of losing something.
I don't want something that someone has necessarily, but I am told how badly I behave in situations and when someone else behaves in the same way, it is praised and embraced. I then feel irritated, annoyed and when I ask why when I did xyz I was told it was bad behavior, I am asked not to be so jealous. Or is that wanting something someone has? I don't know. That is why I am quite confused.
This is not work based. It is in family interaction.
posted by Yellow at 8:05 AM on October 9, 2013

This is really not me trying to talk down to you, but it's how I think of the difference, and I'm 30...

Injustice is "it is not fair that that person has that thing."
Jealousy is "it's not fair that that person has that thing, because I should have it instead."
posted by agress at 8:06 AM on October 9, 2013 [5 favorites]

So someone in your family (let's call him Cousin Bob) behaves in a certain way, and is praised. You behave in what you feel is the same way, and are criticized. You ask why the double standard, and are dismissed as jealous. Is that right?

If that's an accurate read on the situation, then that seems like an odd use of the word. What you'd be "jealous" of is your family's approval, which is not a finite resource. In that situation, I would be confused too.
posted by KathrynT at 8:10 AM on October 9, 2013

Response by poster: I want to know how not to feel the feeling I feel. So if it is jealousy, I want to label all of these feelings as jealously and change how I react. If it is something else, I want to know what that may be and how to change that. Being told I am jealous is a new thing, It's kind of late in the game to learn what it is and change my behavior, but I am going to try.
posted by Yellow at 8:12 AM on October 9, 2013

In the situation you describe, it sounds like you're envious (not jealous) of the other person's treatment. A sense of injustice often accompanies envy, as in "why do they get that desirable thing/circumstance/approval when I don't?"
posted by ottereroticist at 8:14 AM on October 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

I am told how badly I behave in situations and when someone else behaves in the same way, it is praised and embraced.

You're going to have to be a lot more specific about the situation to get a useful answer on this one. It's possible that you are simply being treated unfairly and that your feelings are totally appropriate.
posted by ook at 8:16 AM on October 9, 2013 [21 favorites]

This question makes some major assumptions. It assumes that you're reading the situation correctly, and that the behavior that is being praised in others really is equivalent (including in context as well as action) to the behavior that is being discouraged in you. It also assumes that whoever is telling you you are jealous is also reading the situation correctly, and is correct that it's no big deal and you should get over it.

It seems unlikely to me that both of these would be true -- more likely, either you're reading it wrong and you're doing something slightly different in a way you don't realize, or the person telling you you're jealous is reading it wrong and is dismissing your concerns out of hand.

Either way, to me the best solution seems like it would involve not simply a removal of your feelings of jealousy/injustice (which is pretty damn hard to do if the situation hasn't been resolved and you haven't changed your perception of it) but rather a better understanding of what is really going on, so that you can either correct the problem at its root or achieve a more accurate perspective on the situation that doesn't make it seem so unjust to you.

I realize that this is not a direct answer to your question, but I feel like it's a strategy that is more likely to bear fruit than simply learning to recognize jealousy (which for all any of us knows might not even be jealousy -- all we have is one person's second-hand assessment of your emotions) and somehow stomp it out.
posted by Scientist at 8:20 AM on October 9, 2013 [7 favorites]

I am told how badly I behave in situations and when someone else behaves in the same way, it is praised and embraced.

Yeah it very much makes a difference what you're talking about here. For example, if a man kisses his own wife and then YOU try to kiss her, you're both "behaving in the same way" but you're actually not- you are being completely inappropriate and he is not. If a gay guy jokingly refers to himself as a fag and then you start calling him a fag, again- superficially you are doing the same things, but the context makes them very different in practice.

These are extreme examples, but the point is: sometimes actions which SEEM to be 'the same' are not the same at all.

So, what are you actually doing?
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:25 AM on October 9, 2013 [6 favorites]

People mix up envy and jealousy all the time. In what you've described, you are envious of the praise and embrace the other person receives. If the other person acted in a way to keep you from getting any of the praise/embrace he's getting, he would be acting jealously. Envy/jealousy are inverse to each other the way imply/infer are.

People are not the same. You think you are behaving the same as the other person, but it's different to observers. I have extroverted friends who speak lightly and joke a lot ... whenever I try to do that, even if I am saying the same things & the situations are the same, it comes off as forced and stiff or even sometimes inappropriate because I'm not being my natural self. My natural self is serious & introverted.

As far as my response, I could look at my friend K and wish I were more like her, or envy the ease with which she moves through the world & social situations, or even lament that it's not fair that I have this boring personality and she's someone people want to be around. But instead, I am grateful that this bright & cheerful person is in my life, I happily relax and sit back & observe when I'm with her rather than force myself to tell terrible jokes with poor timing, and I savor the solitude that refreshes me afterward.

Not comparing yourself to others is the key. Finding your strengths and embracing your self will give you confidence to be happy for others when what they have is different from what you have.
posted by headnsouth at 8:30 AM on October 9, 2013

Response by poster: ook, there are so many situations. I will pose a couple just so it is known how broad the spectrum is.

I have a younger sister who decided to get a breast augmentation. I was upset that she decided to alter her body because I feel such invasive surgeries should be saved for something life saving, but that is my opinion. Some time later, one burst and she had to go back to the doctor and have a surgery to replace the breast thingy (I don't know what it is called right now.) I was not told about this nor the surgery, but she needed antibiotics and someone to take care of her. I live closest and several days after the surgery (I didn't know she had surgery or need help) I was told that I was selfish for not helping her. I was then told I was jealous and should get past that and think about how important it is to help family.

Setting: Recently, I was told there is a birthday party for my nephew at my parents' house. Back story: I was told (when my daughter turned one) that it was absurd that I wanted to get together with everyone to have dinner for her first birthday. I didn't want a party. I felt it an excuse to have dinner with everyone. I never mentioned her birthday again; my daughter had a birthday less than two weeks ago (she turned six.) Back to the present: My nephew was turning four and his parents wanted to have a celebration. I mentioned I would love to meet them where they were and participate but my daughter had academic obligations every day that week so let me know what day and time and where. I had received several calls about what I am doing for my nephew's birthday and where and how. After the callers were frustrated that I had no ideas because I had to take my child to school all seven days that week, I was told there was a party. The organizers were annoyed with me and I was told that my child would be jealous if there wasn't a big party bag for her so there was a big party bag for her when we left. No one acknowledged she had a birthday recently.

So I am not what I am feeling and where it comes from. Am I jealous? How do I stop the jealousy?
posted by Yellow at 8:33 AM on October 9, 2013

Are your family the only people who describe you in this way? Do friends also accuse/describe you as jealous or complain about times when you behave jealously/selfishly? If it is just family then I suspect it has less to do with jealousy and more to do with a not-so-great dynamic that you have with your family.

Also, it seems more that their belief is that you're acting selfishly. Their jealous comments seem to be just a tangent and sort of a red herring. Their problem is that they feel you are selfish and that you aren't doing anything/enough for others in your family. They feel you could be doing a lot more and that you could/should be making the family a higher priority in your life.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 8:38 AM on October 9, 2013 [2 favorites]

No, I don't think you have issues with jealousy. I think some members of your family could be gaslighting you. Good luck, you may want to hit up a therapist to keep yourself in check, and deal with their behaviour.
posted by kellyblah at 8:41 AM on October 9, 2013 [3 favorites]

If your read on both of those situations is accurate, then "jealous" seems like a very odd word to use. Although, frankly, so does "injustice." This seems like a family with unrealistic expectations and a bad sense of boundaries.

My one caveat is your feelings about your sister's breast augmentation. You're right that your opinions are your own and you are free to have them, but I'm curious as to why you felt it necessary to share them here, as it doesn't really affect the situation of fairness or jealousy. Is it possible that you're being more free with those opinions than you think you are? If you're trumpeting the fact that you think your sister is making a dumb decision with her breast augmentation surgery and that it upsets you, I CAN see how that could be read as jealous, whether appropriately or not.
posted by KathrynT at 8:43 AM on October 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: PuppetMcSockerson, I don't have friends who tell me I am jealous. I have never thought I was jealous or a jealous kind of person. I do know and acknowledge it when I am envious of someone's talents or that they found a deal or has something amazing that I wish I had, but I'm usually excited for them and the feeling of envy doesn't stay. I just want to know if I am actually jealous and want to change that.
posted by Yellow at 8:43 AM on October 9, 2013

So I am not what I am feeling and where it comes from. Am I jealous? How do I stop the jealousy?

I think the problem here is that your family is like a lot of other people's families, and when you do something that displeases them, they take that as their cue to barf up a litany of all of the aspects of your past behavior and interactions with them that they perceive as your personal failings.

In other words, whenever they're upset at you, they tell you all the things they think are wrong with you, even the irrelevant things.

I don't have friends who tell me I am jealous. I have never thought I was jealous or a jealous kind of person. I do know and acknowledge it when I am envious of someone's talents or that they found a deal or has something amazing that I wish I had, but I'm usually excited for them and the feeling of envy doesn't stay. I just want to know if I am actually jealous and want to change that.

I don't think you are jealous in a way that you should worry about. I think your family, like a lot of families, are kind of crazy. There is no real answer to a kind-of-crazy family. If they were super crazy or abusive, I'd say you should disengage, but it sounds like you have a garden-variety crazy family.

So the answer is that there is nothing in particular you should be trying to stop feeling. There may be unhealthy patterns of behavior in your family and you may be contributing to them in some way, but that's something rooted very deeply and kind of insidious and is beyond the scope of what AskMetafilter can answer for you.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 8:48 AM on October 9, 2013 [5 favorites]

Response by poster: KathrynT, I have always expressed my opinions to my family and friends, not necessarily to change their minds, but because I have an opinion. Maybe to put something in a perspective that she may or may not have had. I don't think it is a dumb decision, it is a decision I would not make. Or are you saying "here" as in Metafilter? I happen to just pick two stories that are very different just to show the situations that I have been told I am jealous.
posted by Yellow at 8:49 AM on October 9, 2013

There could be some unconscious sibling rivalry going on.

Or maybe your parents prefer your other siblings, and any time you defend yourself or ask to be an equal they bury it with "oh you're just so jealous."

From this perspective, jealousy/defensiveness/pride/indignation all stem from the same place: ego. So maybe don't get hung up on what kind of ego machination it is, and just acknowledge times when you are being very ego-driven.

Your family sounds kind of twisted, and you're the scapegoat. You may have a defensive streak (who wouldn't, yeeshe) and then they dive on that because they can. Unfortunately the best way around this kind of BS dynamic is either cut them off completely or for you to be the calm rational saint all the time (so they've got nothing to pin on you). Unfortunately families like this like to blame the person who's acting normal given how they're being treated. I'm sorry... and good luck.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 8:49 AM on October 9, 2013 [7 favorites]

I do know and acknowledge it when I am envious of someone's talents or that they found a deal or has something amazing that I wish I had

By acknowledge do you mean actually communicating that envy? or do you mean that you acknowledge within yourself that you are experiencing envy, but you don't openly communicate it? Jealousy/envy is one of the few things that I think really should just be kept to yourself. Everyone feels it, but no one benefits from expressing it.

Honestly, I think your best option in this situation is to talk to a friend of yours that knows you well and that you trust will be honest with you and ask them if you ever come off as jealous or selfish. Only someone who knows you in person will be able to answer this question for you.

I also think that you probably aren't a selfish/jelous person and that your family is just a little unrealistic in their expectations of you. If that is the case then there isn't anything you can do. If your family has it in their heads that you are a selfish jealous person, and if this is a widely held belief of many of your family members, you're kind of screwed. They are always going to find things that "confirm" that you're selfish, and they are always going to find people to complain to who will agree with them. They probably aren't intentionally doing it, they probably don't dislike you or wish you ill, but they do clearly define you in their heads in this way. I think all you can do is come to terms with the fact that you aren't going to be able to satisfy the demands of your family, and try to find ways to protect yourself from it.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 8:56 AM on October 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

For what it is worth, this sort of family pidgeon hole-ing happens in a lot of familys and is really common. My whole extended family has in their heads that I am clumsy because when I was young I was, and I've had a couple injuries that were a result of my not being careful. I'm 31 now, I am not clumsy, I don't fall a lot or drop things or do clumsy things any more often than other people, but I'm still described as clumsy by my family. When I do anything even remotely clumsy (like slip on some ice and nearly fall) I get bombarded with a chorus of comments about how I'm so clumsy and how I've always been that way, ha ha isn't it so funny how oaf-like you are. It pisses me the hell off. I know I am never going to change their minds about this, though. Even if I only do one clumsy thing in three years that will be enough to keep the clumsy label intact. So fuck it. They can call me clumsy. They can warn me of every single bump in the sidewalk. They can warn me dozens of times how valuable and fragile something is and that I need to be careful not to drop it. All I can do is I ignore it as best I can.

Your family pigeon hole is just suckier than mine. Maybe back when you were younger you WERE selfish and jelous (as many kids were) but they failed to notice that you have grown up and aren't that way anymore. When a label like that get put on a person often times people are sort of extra attentive, waiting for the next thing to happen that proves you're that way. You can tell them you aren't that way anymore, but as soon as anything even remotely selfish happens they are going to feel that it is proof that no, you're wrong, you haven't changed, you're still selfish.

You aren't going to win this. All you can do is know in yourself that you aren't that way, and try to not let it tear in to your self-esteem.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 9:10 AM on October 9, 2013 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thank you for all of the great answers so far!

PuppetMcSockerson: I usually tell people stuff like, "Damn, I wish I could do that!" or "You got that for HOW MUCH?! Where was I when that sale was on?!" or "THAT looks GOOD on you!" or "Hey, guys, look at that, isn't that amazing?!"

FAMOUS MONSTER: I like the "garden-variety crazy family." It's strangely comforting to think that there are others with families like mine. I really want to know if I am actually as claimed and should seek professional help, you know what I mean?

St. Peepsburg: It is quite evident there is preference. Even now, we are all adults, my parents' friends find it obvious. My father's best friend (from when he was 17 so he has seen me grow up) says to my father that the favoritism is really insane. As for sibling rivalry, I am many years older than my three younger siblings. There is no rivalry on my part that I am aware of (though maybe I should see if there is!)
posted by Yellow at 9:18 AM on October 9, 2013

Do your family members speak English as a second language, or do they have limited vocabularies in general? Because even if you were behaving badly in the situations you describe (and I don't think you were, based on your retelling; it sounds like you've been designated as family scapegoat, as noted by others above) 'jealousy' is a strangely inaccurate word to use.

Personally, I have heard people use that word as a catch-all criticism when they're unable to properly describe what irks them about a person/situation, either because they're not especially articulate or because there's an element of irrationality or dishonesty to their complaint.
posted by EXISTENZ IS PAUSED at 9:19 AM on October 9, 2013 [4 favorites]

I live closest and several days after the surgery (I didn't know she had surgery or need help) I was told that I was selfish for not helping her. I was then told I was jealous and should get past that and think about how important it is to help family.

Setting aside the irrelevant backstory about your feelings regarding plastic surgery, this is obviously not jealousy; you obviously can't be held responsible for not helping someone who you didn't know needed help. (And your obvious response to your family on this accusation should have been "hey, how could I help her if nobody told me she needed help?")

I had received several calls about what I am doing for my nephew's birthday and where and how. After the callers were frustrated that I had no ideas

I literally cannot follow your explanation of what happened here at all, your description is very convoluted.

The usual deal with childrens' birthday parties is that their parents throw them a party and invite the kid's friends, or (if the kid is too young to have friends) their own friends and some family. There's no reason you should be responsible for figuring out how your nephew's birthday should be celebrated, nor is there any reason your family should be responsible for figuring out how your daughter's birthday should be celebrated. It is very very common for the people throwing a children's birthday party to provide loot bags for all the children invited.

Again, neither "jealousy" nor "injustice" seem in any way relevant here.

It mostly sounds like you have weird and irrational family. Sorry about that. The good news is you have plenty of company in that.
posted by ook at 9:19 AM on October 9, 2013 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: EXISTENZ: We all (except my youngest sister) speak English as a second language, but we have been in the US for over thirty years and I learn English from reading a dictionary as well as in British schools before coming to the US. The conversations happen in English as well as Chinese and the word/term is used in both languages.

ook: They expected me to come up with a plan, what, how, when, etc.

Thank you all, I think maybe I am not jealous and I need to figure out how to deal with them better.
posted by Yellow at 9:37 AM on October 9, 2013

Family members often use unfair tactics because they're effective. And when the tactics aren't effective in getting you to do what they want, they still have the desired effect of making you feel bad...a punishment for not being compliant.

You don't need to explain to the unfair person that they're not treating you properly, that they have double standards, etc. Eventually, you might be able to say something like, "I don't see it that way." It's extremely hard to say no or to say nothing when name-calling, accusations, and criticism are habitually used and your wishes and needs aren't respected. Try to work toward being able to do that. It sounds like some of your relatives care a lot about getting their way and being 'right.'

If you're thinking of getting professional help, a therapist can help you make some guidelines for yourself about what you will and won't tolerate. You can't make people change how they treat you, but you can change how you respond...and your response might involve saying nothing and putting it out of your mind. Some family members will step up their criticism of you, but isn't that what they love to do anyway?
posted by wryly at 9:59 AM on October 9, 2013 [2 favorites]

Sounds like your family treats you poorly and expects you not to mind. Could be cultural (is the nephew, say, the offspring of your oldest brother?) or just weird family yuckiness. I think it's reasonable to say that your daughter has birthdays that go unremarked, but I wouldn't expect to get much out of it -- this kind of behavior is probably pretty deeply self-justified, so mere self-awareness won't cure it. Good luck getting along happily without much validation on the family front -- you can do it, but wanting a little outside help seems more than normal to me.
posted by acm at 10:44 AM on October 9, 2013 [2 favorites]

Jealousy isn't really on point here in terms of what you've described -- except, I wouldn't be surprised if your family has always picked on you. Berating you for not helping your sister when you didn't know she needed help; and berating you for not planning your nephew's birthday party, are both inappropriate criticisms and are consistent with a scenario where they just feel like they can pick on you. And I wouldn't be surprised if you do chafe at that (I would) and are envious of family members who don't seem to get that kind of unfair treatment.

"Why do you always pick on me? Why don't you pick on X?" would be an expression of envy but it would also be a totally reasonable response to an unfair family dynamic. Is that's what is happening here?

Anyway, if it makes you feel better, favoritism -- unequal treatment of children, grandchildren etc -- that lasts from childhood through adulthood is very, very common; but it's something parents need to curb as best they can, because it is harmful and unfair. If that's what is happening here, then yes you could benefit from therapy, not to heal you of "jealousy" but to identify the patterns around you and learn constructive ways for you to deal with them.

(Also, if you expressed your sanctimonius disapproval of your sister's surgery to her, then I'm not surprised that you got blowback. That would have been a rude thing to do.)
posted by fingersandtoes at 11:17 AM on October 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

Jealous seems like exactly the wrong word to use to describe these situations, because they're actually angry that you're being too unavailable/distant, not that you're being too controlling/possessive. These situations sound more like, when they get overwhelmed they want someone (aka, you) to swoop in to save the day, and they get all cranky when you don't. And when they get cranky, they snap at you that the problem isn't that you can't help out, it's that you won't.

I would just stop taking them so seriously. Obviously, neither you nor they (nor anyone else) can solve every problem that rears its head in the family, so I would just let them vent and not worry about it.

You can confront them and get into arguments, etc, but honestly, I just don't think it's worth it. They're already trying to blow off steam by picking a fight with you, and if you respond it'll just escalate it -- which is what is happening now, it sounds to me.

It also sounds like they think of you as a third parent in the family instead of as the oldest child, and so they are inclined to give you "parent"-type responsibilities (w/r/t themselves and your siblings). I don't actually think it's about preference in terms of loving you less or more, I think it's about the role they see you in (adult as opposed to child). Probably, even as you're getting irritated at how indulgent your parents are toward your siblings, your siblings are meanwhile getting hot under the collar about your parents "trusting" and "respecting" you more. All that is really common, and I would try to just take it in stride -- this is the blessing/curse you get for being the firstborn. Congrats :P.
posted by rue72 at 11:27 AM on October 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

The sister situation and the birthday situation seem related. Your relatives seem to be conflating a long-term situation. I believe that whoever said that to you had other notions about you and your sister (or, in general), and used those situations to bring them to light. For example, they may have perceived that you've always been envious or jealous of your sister--standing in her shadow, let's say--so they apply that notion to what they believe is an inappropriate response to her needs.

The same goes for the birthday situation. They had thoughts about you they wanted to express, the situation was an opportunity to do so. By themselves, they don't seem to merit the either of the labels.

I can relate this dynamic, loosely, to my own family. We have factions that don't get along with each other very well. When I was younger this led to feuding: for example, we had a Thanksgiving group and a Christmas group. Some of us attended both gatherings, but others didn't mix. Factional loyalties were tacitly acknowledged, and conversations (that's to say, topics of family gossip) were adjusted accordingly, to avoid throwing food at one another during dinner. Now and then a crew would leave in a huff, and go over to the other holiday's gathering.

(I am the youngest, so I got a pass on the feuds. We kids just sort of let the adults do whatever they did. Later on these factions shaped our relationships with various branches of the family, so it turns out that feuding isn't without consequences. Nowadays, all those who were at the parent/aunt/uncle level have shuffled off their mortal coils, and the branches of our family exist in various degrees of estrangement.)

Jealousy means you wish you had your cousin's Porsche and he had a pointy stick in his ear. Envy means only that you want one, too. Envy's not so bad as long as it doesn't keep you awake at night or turn you sour towards someone. Sometimes envy can inspire you to learn to play the piano or quit smoking. Jealousy usually leads to trouble, on account of the inevitable pointy stick clause.
posted by mule98J at 12:40 PM on October 9, 2013

Nthing that weird family dynamics are often far too common.

One thing that might explain (not excuse) your family dynamic is that large age gap. My grandparents were extremely strict with my sister and I. They thought my parents had gotten married too soon, and were going to mess it all up, and kinda micro-managed the entire thing, leading to a lot of grief.

My cousins are twenty years younger than me, and they are getting more traditional "spoil the grandbabies" treatment. Twenty years mellowed them out, and gave them confidence that maybe their kids wouldn't ruin *their* kids.

My mom often gets upset about it. And it does feel a bit like jealousy, anger, a sense of injustice. But she also realizes that time changes people, and it's not fair to expect that my grandparents should repeat the same mistakes they made the first time around. So acting out on those hurt feelings wouldn't really be appropriate, even if you feel that you should always share your opinions.

Even with a two year gap, it's easy to think "I can't believe she grew up so fast and we didn't appreciate it. Let's really take the effort to not do that this time around".
posted by politikitty at 2:36 PM on October 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

I want to know how not to feel the feeling I feel. So if it is jealousy, I want to label all of these feelings as jealously and change how I react. If it is something else, I want to know what that may be and how to change that.

Feelings are never wrong. Having different feelings, some of which are pleasant and others less so, is just part of being human. They come and go, it's just part of life.

We are responsible for our own actions. If others want you to stop acting a certain way, and you wish to comply with that, you can change your actions even if your feelings are the same.

You probably can't avoid this feeling entirely, but you can find ways to lessen the duration of the feeling. You don't actually need to know the name of the feeling first. The trick is that you can't just stop feeling it, you need to feel something else instead. Find something that will serve to distract you from how you are feeling, that has positive associations for you. That could be thinking about some happy memory or thing, having something in your pocket to touch, looking at pictures that lift your mood.
posted by yohko at 4:17 PM on October 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

I have always expressed my opinions to my family and friends, not necessarily to change their minds, but because I have an opinion. Maybe to put something in a perspective that she may or may not have had. I don't think it is a dumb decision, it is a decision I would not make.
You might want to use the "nice, necessary, true (only say something if it is at least two of the three)" test in the future for this kind of thing. I can see how criticizing your sister's boob job could come across as jealousy, even if you weren't actually feeling jealous. Once your family believes you're jealous, they might assume that you didn't help her on purpose, rather than figuring out that you actually didn't know.
posted by anaelith at 8:45 PM on October 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: fingers and toes: I don't ever ask why I am treated differently or ask why I am being picked on, though I feel like I am usually expected to do all of the thinking, the doing and all of the forgiving when something isn't right.

anaelith: Good point, but I didn't say it in a criticizing tone. I said "I think you are perfect the way you are, I don't think you've thought of the pain and recovery, but it is a decision you have to make. I would be afraid to do a breast augmentation because I am too frightened to have surgery except for when it is to save my life." I would never say "boob job." I will think about not making an opinion to prevent being told I am jealous.

Thank you all for letting me know I am not alone in this!
posted by Yellow at 4:27 PM on October 15, 2013

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