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Linda Dessau : Jealous Again

Jealous Again

By Linda Dessau

Jealousy — do you feel it? Do you sense it in others? Does it hinder your relationships with other musicians? Does it sap your confidence? Does it block your creativity? Here are some questions to help you get clearer about the jealousy in your life.

1. What is my jealousy trying to teach me? Generally when I have a strong emotion towards a specific person it's either because that person represents something about me that I can't tolerate yet or because that person embodies something that I wish I could do or have. I remember being in a high school arts program and being incredibly envious of a fellow singer. What I was so painfully aware of (though I couldn't have articulated it at that time) was that this person was able to fully express herself and her talents, and I couldn't. I was a better singer at home in my bedroom than I was in front of other people, and THAT'S what I couldn't stand about the situation. By doing what I couldn't do, she shone a spotlight on my biggest challenge. It made it virtually impossible to have a good relationship with her.

2. How can I identify with this person as a fellow musician, instead of comparing our work? What opportunities are there for collaboration, mutual support and the exchange of ideas? Can I open myself to receiving gifts from this person — feedback, support and love? What can I, in turn, give to this person? Even the most famous, the most successful musician is a human being just like you. Find the connection. What can I give to a musician who's newer than I am?

3. How can I develop confidence in my unique message and express this authentically? I will never sound like this other musician, or anyone else for that matter. Influences may be heard, comparisons will inevitably be made, but my words will never come out exactly like theirs, because my "story", my life, my experiences, my collection of qualities, strengths and challenges are completely unique to me. When I honour my uniqueness my confidence grows, and it becomes pointless to compare myself to others — there's no comparison. This quote by Martha Graham further explains what I mean.

There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening, that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. — Martha Graham, quoted by Agnes DeMille, Martha: The Life and Work of Martha Graham

4. How can I turn my attention away from this other person and back to what I can do to further my own success and creative fulfillment? If I'm jealous of someone winning a songwriting contest, I can ask myself: how many songwriting contests have I entered? If I'm jealous of the size of their fan base, I can ask myself: how am I attracting new fans and how I am deepening my relationship with the ones I have now? If I'm jealous of the number of songs they've written, I can ask myself: what am I choosing to do with my time instead of writing songs?

5. Now that I've learned from it, how can I let go of my jealousy? Often in life we hang on to emotions long after they've served their usefulness. They become comfortable, familiar and safer than doing the work to get to the other side of them. And yet they can also weigh us down and block our creativity. Try the analogy FEEL.

  • First, Feel your feeling — don't suppress it, actually let yourself feel it.
  • Next, Express the feeling — write about it, sing about, talk about it with someone you trust, play it on an instrument or express it in art.
  • Next, Explore the feeling — what is it trying to teach you, etc. as discussed above.
  • And finally Let it Go. This can be as simple as saying a short prayer or affirmation ("I have let go of my jealousy", or "I have valuable and unique gifts to offer"), or writing the feeling on a piece of paper and tearing it up.

Jealousy has a lot to teach us. So when it shows up in your life, pay attention. If you notice jealousy in others, put yourself in their shoes and help them to identify with you. Reveal your humanity. Let them know that they've got something to offer you. •

This article was originally published on the Muses Muse Songwriter's Resource website (December 2004) www.musesmuse.com.

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3/29/05