But it's not okay to be jealous.
I remember a few months ago I was talking to my therapist, and I felt shame and guilt for feeling jealous. I saw close friends and family members getting pregnant and having babies, and I felt jealous of their expanding families. I felt grief from a miscarriage I had a few years prior. I felt jealous and I felt ashamed.
So, I stated to my therapist, "But it is not okay to be jealous". My therapist responded and asked, why?
Why was it not okay to be jealous? What about the emotion of jealousy was wrong? I sat with that question for a moment, remembering all the times I felt jealous in my life, and remembering the shame I felt each time the emotion of jealousy engaged with my body.
But then I remembered a book I always read to my kids, called “Asi Me Siento Yo” by Janan Cain or the translated version in English, “The Way I Feel”. This book talks about the different emotions you can feel and how all these emotions are normal and expected.
In this book it talks about anger, sadness, excitement, and jealousy just to name a few. The story depicts emotions as normal, and I read this book with fervor with my children, trying to teach them that emotions are normal to feel for yourself and for others. For my kids, I normalized the emotion of jealousy but for myself, I feared it.
But on this day my therapist reminded me that I too can feel jealous and there was nothing wrong with that.
That moment helped reframe my emotions for me. I began to realize that, like many others, I was taught that there are emotions we are allowed to feel, the positive ones, and emotions we avoid, the negative ones.
I knew jealousy, anger, sadness and anxiety as negative emotions, but joy and hope as positive ones and acceptable. Even now in schools, much of the SEL curriculum places emotions into zones or colors and gives kids this understanding that some emotions are acceptable to feel and express in schools, but others are inappropriate for schools and workplaces, oftentimes anxiety, anger, or excitement being placed into this category.
But what if we reframe the emotions, that there are no positive or negative ones, that there are no red or green ones, but rather all emotions are just, purple? They are truly natural and valid things that we feel. They are what makes us human.
My therapist reminded me that my emotion of jealousy was normal and valid, but then asked me how I wanted to express the valid emotion?
Her question provoked me to engage with jealousy through movement, exploring through movement how my body expressed the natural emotion of jealousy. With each movement expressed, the more freedom I found within myself and the safer I felt within my body.
Disconnecting and avoiding the emotions does not make us stronger, rather accepting, expressing, and releasing the emotions is where we find hope and freedom in the body.
As a culture we have thrown the baby out with the bath water, meaning we have removed emotions from the self because we have been hurt by them or we have hurt others when we reacted to them. However, emotions are natural and normal, and the only control you have is how you respond to the emotions you feel every day.
How do you express your emotions in safe ways that do not harm yourself, others, or your environment?
Maybe you can go for a run, take a kickboxing class, do yoga, or even engage in dance. But I urge you to explore how you can express and release the emotions you feel every day so that you do not implode on your emotions but allow yourself to release little bits of them each day.
Now, I see my friends and family having babies and I am able to manage the enduring grief and frustration that comes with having had a miscarriage and at the same time feel genuine happiness for my friends and family in their moment.