Please help protect me from evil eye!
December 3, 2017 9:59 PM   Subscribe

I need tips on disarming jealousy please.

So I've become really afraid of "evil eye." In a concrete, not totally metaphysical way. Basically, jealous people consciously or subconsciously sabotaging another person because they are jealous of them. This has increased as other people start perceiving me as more and more successful.

How do you disarm jealous people so that they are not motivated to harm you? I've tried the following but am hoping to identify more effective strategies:

-Talking about both the good and the not so good in my life, instead of pretending everything is perfect

-Putting myself down or not showing off my strengths (yea probably not the best strategy)

-Complimenting the person on the awesome things in their life

-Including them in stuff that I'm successful in that they might be interested in so as to "share"
posted by cacao to Human Relations (18 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
You can't disarm jealous people so they are not motivated to harm you. End thread. (Just kidding). I think if you try to do this it will come off as anxious and insecure and will probably cause you needless emotional turmoil. The best you can do is focus on what you do best. If you care about others and want to raise them up, that's a bonus, but there is no set of skills you can master that will deflect this problem, in my opinion. The more successful you get, the more the jealous will get jealous. But as compensation you'll also get more people who admire and support what you do.
posted by karmachameleon at 10:15 PM on December 3, 2017 [7 favorites]

Ummm, maybe try doing all of these things for real, because making earnest connections with people is a good thing, not just a strategy to pacify competition?
posted by moonlight on vermont at 10:16 PM on December 3, 2017 [30 favorites]

I think "be genuinely warm, nice, and likeable" is probably the most effective strategy. People generally don't wish ill on people they like. Nothing to do with discussing or not discussing your life/stuff (or at least orthogonal to it).
posted by brainmouse at 10:19 PM on December 3, 2017 [13 favorites]

This sounds quite paranoid. Do you have any actual proof people are trying to "sabotage" you? Maybe it would be better to talk to a therapist about your concerns?

I agree with moonlight on vermont, and I also think that instead of worrying about people's secret motivations, whether they are jealous or not, it'll be a lot easier and healthier to accept people at face value than try to read into them for evidence of jealousy and "sabotage." And yes, form connections because it's the better way to live.
posted by AppleTurnover at 11:26 PM on December 3, 2017 [15 favorites]

> -Putting myself down or not showing off my strengths (yea probably not the best strategy)

Please don't do this as a conscious strategy. I did this for years and years, especially when younger - hiding what I was good at, pretending to be dumber than I was in order to better fit in. It ends up slowing you down. It stops you striving for everything you feel like you should be achieving.
posted by giraffeneckbattle at 1:22 AM on December 4, 2017 [9 favorites]

Start wearing a Greek evil eye charm, or a red string bracelet in Hebrew custom. Lots of cultures fear the "evil eye" and have charms to ward it off, maybe that could be a lighthearted way for you to deal with your fears? Don't bother with policing your own interactions or false modesty, this will harm you in other ways.
Confidence and warmth are likeable qualities, cockiness and condescension are not- as long as you understand the difference and project the former, you'll be fine. Also, as a general rule, other people don't really give a crap about stuff that doesn't involve them- like your life and your successes. It's a bit self-absorbed (or a symptom of low self esteem) to worry about them being jealous. Not to sound harsh but they have their own lives going on and probably don't even think about yours.
posted by emd3737 at 2:49 AM on December 4, 2017 [7 favorites]

If you identify as a woman, I can grok where you're coming from. It can be downright stupefying just how many people (of all gender identities) will cut down a woman in power, no matter how good she is. Kindness can be perceived as weakness; assertiveness can be perceived as aggressiveness; modesty about achievements can be perceived as anxiety; anxiety can be perceived as incompetence; competence can be perceived as a threat; building others up can be perceived as an opportunity for sabotage...

There's no paranoia there, that's the actual history of women. Women have literally had their lives stolen from them for no good reason whatsoever – all greed and laziness under a veil of misogyny.

We like to think there's something we, as women, could do to change that, as if the too nice/too aggressive/too strong/too weak dichotomies are good-faith attempts to help us. But they're not. There's no way to disarm it. You can't undo how society views women.

You can look it in the eye, see it for what it is, and be the best version of yourself anyway.

If you're not a woman, all this changes.
posted by fraula at 2:50 AM on December 4, 2017 [32 favorites]

Ok, so I get jealous. Not sabotage-jealous but miserable, thinking-what-a-loser-I-am, barely able to congratulate you jealous.

It‘s not healthy, ugh.

What helps, what really really helps is if the other person is genuinely interested in me - my opinion, my experiences and so on. If I see that you treat me as a conversational equal, if you treat me like you genuinely enjoy my conversation. Then I feel elevated. Like, if this awesome person sees something in me, then that must mean something. Then I‘ll forever be singing your praises, happily.

It also makes me extra sensitive towards slights, little signals that you don‘t have time for me etc.
posted by Omnomnom at 5:38 AM on December 4, 2017 [2 favorites]

I am a woman (and a 'poc' for what that's worth). Thanks, I appreciate all of your feedback. I don't always think about this, but it is a topic of strong interest for me, especially after living for a few years in a country where evil eye is a cultural belief/fear.
posted by cacao at 5:57 AM on December 4, 2017 [1 favorite]

You may find it reassuring to get yourself an apotropaic charm against the evil eye. I think the hamsa hand and the blue evil eye bead are the most well-known versions of this, but many cultures have their own specific version. These are commonly made into necklaces, bracelets, earrings, etc., so you should be able to find one that matches your style. Choose one that has resonance to you. I'm not suggesting any kind of ghosts-and-spirits stuff here, and I'm also not trying to encourage you to ruminate about people who may be resentful/jealous towards you. Quite the contrary: giving yourself a little symbol like this can be a reassuring reminder that you are choosing to live in defiance of any unjustified resentment/jealousy other folks are throwing your way, and that you are going to be ok.

The other thing you can do is to make sure that you are right with yourself. Are you living in harmony with your values? If you've been especially lucky lately, have you been reaching out to lift others up in the way that feels right to you? That might mean that you donate some of your time or money to a charity, or mentor someone else, or in some way pass on a little of your good luck to those in need of it. Don't hurt yourself trying to do this, but do check with yourself to make sure you are acting on your values. If you're already doing so, then recognize it and give yourself a pat on the back. It's not going to prevent anyone from being resentful/jealous of you, but it will make you feel more secure in your own self, and less concerned about what jerks think of you.
posted by ourobouros at 7:42 AM on December 4, 2017 [1 favorite]

One thing to think about is that if the evil eye were real, people like Oprah, Warren Buffet, or (insert favorite ultra-successful and happy person) would have been struck down years ago.
posted by vivzan at 7:53 AM on December 4, 2017

I don't think you're overblowing this, and I believe it's an extremely worthwhile thing to think about. It would even be worthwhile to consider solutions that aren't all on your own, or the jealousy target's own, shoulders.

I still remember the first time I felt jealousy, and suddenly years of snide, hateful comments from older women made vivid, sad sense. I mean, I _got_ it, and I wanted to _do_ it myself. The advantages people get have zero basis in merit -- what does? -- and that so many are so ignored is beyond unfair. I didn't really think anyone deserved my jealousy, and that helped -- but it took a minute for me to realize what I was experiencing, and I almost didn't realize it.

Since then, I've thought about it a lot. I'm not sure any of these will work, and certainly the right solution has to be matched to the right person and circumstance, but here's what I've got so far:

- If you show vulnerability of some kind, that sends a signal that you are on the same team. You are essentially saying, "I need help and you can provide it. I'm not superior to you and I know that I'm not." Of course, showing vulnerability to someone who's all the way to hating you is probably a fraught idea.

- If they genuinely believe that your success means their own success, and they are working with you for joint success, that can help too. However, convincing someone of this takes thought and effort, and some people will be very hard to convince.

- You have to be completely aware of your own feelings and motivations, because if you are telling the same untruths to yourself about your motives ("I want us all to succeed") it won't make you seem any less false to a perceptive other person. You have to think and think about yourself and how you really feel, in order to get at the complete truth, and to figure out a way that you genuinely connect with the other person. If you fake it, it will make the situation worse.

- Make sure that you are not trying to connect with women using behaviors that primarily work with certain kinds of men, nor with certain kinds of older women who enjoy mothering/taking care of you. A charming smile or asking for help with things because "I'm just no good at that!" are both tremendously effective in certain situations, for example (I'm not saying you're doing this), but will make others think you are focusing on yourself and relationships more than you are on being awesome at what you do.
posted by amtho at 8:03 AM on December 4, 2017

There are people who are resentful of anyone in a higher-status position, sometimes those people will behave very badly to try to improve their own position/ for financial gain/ for spite. People who behave that way are usually so affected that they will respond best to your display of greater power. Be less sweet, accommodating, tolerant. Don't be self-deprecating.
posted by theora55 at 8:28 AM on December 4, 2017 [1 favorite]

Show people you care about them and that you’re a decent person who doesn’t knowingly harm others. Recognize what makes them neat people. Use your skills and success to mentor and help other people who aren’t yet where you are. I think jealousy is more of a problem in a “game” where only one person can win/succeed at a time. Show that you don’t buy into that and that you are interested in the goals of others and will help when you can.
posted by bunderful at 8:41 AM on December 4, 2017 [2 favorites]

jealous people consciously or subconsciously sabotaging another person because they are jealous of them. This has increased as other people start perceiving me as more and more successful.

Concentrate on your local power dynamics. In any social situation, identify those people who wield more power than you do, and those who wield less. Concentrate on behaving considerately and pleasantly and helpfully and supportively toward those who wield less. It's hard to maintain a set against a person who is consistently and genuinely nice to their waitress.

As soon as you conceptualize achieving success as a kind of battle, you lose that battle. There will always be people who want what you have, and some of those people will act as if the best way to get that is by taking it away from you. But looking for specific defences against people who adopt that attitude is a waste of your time, because those people are pretty reliably self-defeating anyway.

Every now and then you will encounter some horrible prick who causes you a setback. There is no way to prevent this, because you cannot control what other people think or do. But if you have a well deserved reputation for being genuinely kind to those who are currently less successful than you are, you will find that you bounce back from those setbacks very very quickly.

The most likely source of those setbacks is not so much people who are envious that you have more than them, but people who already have more than you do, and seek to co-opt your work and claim it as their own. Try to avoid forming business relationships with people like that. Fortunately they're relatively easy to spot - they're the ones you will see treating "little people" as if they don't matter at all.
posted by flabdablet at 4:34 PM on December 4, 2017

Don't make all of your friends the kind of people who value the same successes that you do.

This has the added bonus of keeping you relatively humble.

You can be friends with the people who care about the same things, but just keep your success more to yourself with those people.

Also yes get a charm!
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 5:25 PM on December 4, 2017 [1 favorite]

If you re-read your ideas you might notice that they all center on you. What people might want to hear about from you or not, what you'll tell them about their life, or which of your activities they might share.

This is a natural way to approach things--the question is about actions you can take, after all. But maybe flip the perspective in your ideas and make the other people central. Listen to their problems, find out about what they see as their strengths, see if you can be included in their interests.

Except for a few outliers people aren't going to be jealous if you're not standing in front of them, blocking the sunlight.
posted by mark k at 9:54 PM on December 4, 2017

Thought about this some more.

I try to stay really grounded in the fact that success is not black and white. I make more money than my friend from high school, but she's doing incredibly important work that impacts hundreds of lives. I have more disposable income and free time than my friend with a kid, but ... she gets to have the experience of having a kid. I'm not cut out to be a parent, but I can see how much she adores her son even when she envies me being able to take a solo vacation. I have some moderately unusual talents that in some circles make me a mini-star. But the people I outshine at underwater-basket-weaving have programming or networking skills or just plain doggedness that I lack. I don't assume that anyone would rather have my skill than theirs.

I know a lot of people who, when I think about it, are probably more successful than I am ... though their success is not what I would chose for myself - I'm impressed by them but not envious. And when we sit down to talk together like one human to another, it doesn't really matter at all. We all have frustrations and goals and passions.

Life is not a straight line where you're either ahead or not. Life has as many twisty, windy paths as there are branches in a tree, and where someone is right now is not something you can ever see completely clearly. Most of us can't even see clearly where we are.
posted by bunderful at 5:35 PM on December 6, 2017

« Older What's this cat's name?   |   Where are all the natural nature photographs? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.