Do you ever feel stuck? Like your soul wants to be doing something other than what you’re actually doing, even if you’re not exactly sure what that is? Sometimes we know what our hearts are craving and other times it seems we just catch glimmers or whispers.
Our modern world doesn’t exactly prioritize our heart’s desires over our to-do lists, and the messages from our soul can get downright squashed. We’re generally not taught how to pay attention to these knocks.
How can we know what our soul wants us to do?
Have you considered accessing it through jealousy?
It was a bit of a shock to me when, after fifteen years of doing yoga and threatening to get my yoga teacher certification but never actually doing it, I noticed myself critiquing other teachers’ classes, especially teachers who were newer at the game.
After the tenth time or so of saying “Sheesh, I could have taught a better class,” I was struck by the awareness that I was actually envious. I might have been able to teach a better class, but no one would ever know it, including me. They had taken the leap to go to training and put themselves out in the world. I hadn’t. I was jealous.
The same thing started happening with books. I’d read something and think “If this thing can get published, I could probably write a bestseller.” Except, I wasn’t writing anything besides my morning journal. I joined a nine-month creativity and transformation course and it seemed everyone there was on their way to writing a book. I was jealous. Again.
Julia Cameron of The Artists’ Way, a maven of creative expansion, tells us we’re jealous when we’re not expressing our own creative gifts in the world, and not living what we came here to do. That envy gets louder the longer we ignore it.
It seems so easy: just go and do it, right? But we often have creative blocks of all kinds. The good news is that there are plenty of practices to help us dismantle the blocks and learn how to play again if we choose.
Here are 5 steps that can let jealousy lead you to your joy:
1. Become Aware!
Start noticing what gives you even the slightest twinge of envy or when you have the inclination to put down someone else’s efforts. An artist friend recalls how someone commented at one of her shows, “I could have done that.”
Her comment back? “Yes, but you didn’t.” Even something small that makes you bristle with jealousy can be a great window into where your heart wants to go.
Sometimes we don’t even allow ourselves to admit we’re jealous, or we adopt an attitude of superiority (the flip side of the coin that says we’re not good enough). I initially squashed my jealousy of the new yoga teachers by saying I didn’t want to “just be a yoga teacher” (a vocation I now hold with the highest regard).
I’d been brought up to value success in business, and my identity was wrapped up in a high-achieving, money-making lifestyle. When I allowed myself to admit it, I experienced a fantastic wave of freedom.
“Find a place inside where there’s joy, and the joy will burn out the pain.” – Joseph Campbell
2. Move towards the jealousy, not away
Usually we want to get away from these uncomfortable feelings as fast as possible, right? Next time, try leaning in. Ask yourself: What is this trying to tell me? Engage the person who you are jealous of and ask about their accomplishment.
People who are actually practicing what brings them joy usually love to talk about it. When we’re secure in knowing we’re on our soul path, we generally like to share it with others.
These people can often be an encouraging resource, showing us the next step to take.
3. Take One Tiny Step
Often we’re stopped from pursuing our dreams because we think we don’t know how. But there is always one little step we can take. If we ask the Universe to show it to us, it usually arrives right on our doorstep.
If you’re jealous of the local art show, can you spend twenty minutes this week with your paint brushes? If you’re jealous of that powerful public speaker, can you visit the nearest Toastmasters Club?
If you’re jealous of the great dinner party host, can you invite a friend for a meal?
What would you really like to do? What’s one tiny step you can take towards this longing?
4. Take yourself out to play
Set aside an hour or so this week for a personal playdate. Resist the temptation to invite friends, spend the time on your phone, or cancel at the last minute in favor of something “more important.” Prioritize it as highly as picking up the kids from school or going to work. Julia Cameron would call this the artist’s date. Ask your heart what he/she/they want to do and do that.
This can be hard – I know! The first time I did this years ago, I couldn’t actually hear what my heart wanted to do. I drove around a little confused, continually asking my heart, “what do you want to do”?
Eventually the car seemed to pull itself into an art store parking lot. I went in and was like a kid in the candy shop. I loved playing with the pastels on display and then thought “I should buy these for my nephew.” What? I was so disconnected from my creativity at that point that I naturally felt I should buy them for the kids.
Fortunately, my heart didn’t let me get away with that, and I took pastels home for me too – generating so much delight and joy in the early morning hours before anyone else in the house got up. I didn’t become a pastel artist, but that purchase opened up all kinds of other avenues of creativity including my real soul path, writing.
5. Find at least one person to be mutual cheerleaders with
Having another person you can talk to about your dreams and, just as importantly, your fears about taking actions on them, is so powerful. It’s said that geese fly 70 percent further and faster in formation than alone, and it’s no different for us.
Taking action to pursue our dreams can often bring up a lot of resistance. Our brains want to keep us comfortable and stepping into new roles can trigger habitual thoughts that we’re not good enough, we’re not ready, or that “we couldn’t possibly do that.” Having a champion who cheers you on is key.
Find and keep company with folks who support what you’re exploring and creating.
Avoid the naysayers at all costs, especially in the tender, early stage of dream exploration! Just as it can be hard for us to be supportive of others’ dreams when we’re not pursuing our own, it can be difficult for others to champion you if they are not pursuing their own joy.
Sometimes they just don’t know how. Don’t take it personally. Often the people we hope will cheerlead us the most — our family and friends — don’t understand or are not able to, and that’s okay. Hold your heart’s explorations close and protect them until you are ready to fly.
When we’re jealous and don’t pay attention, it can nibble away at us, leading to bitterness instead of the creation of a joyful life. Creativity does not necessarily mean art: it’s how we create our lives when we let our heart and soul lead the way.
Our creativity is a beautiful access to our Divinity; our Soul Path, and jealousy just might lead the way there.
Are you jealous of something? Become friends with envy and she might tell you what’s missing in your life — even where to find it.