Jealousy and Envy: The Emotions of Comparison and Contrast

Jealousy and envy are emotional transformations of shame.
Are you craving attention from a person whose focus is on someone else? Do you desire attributes that are possessed by another? When you experience jealousy or envy, you have measured your sense of your self against your image of another person and arrived at a conclusion that was motivated by the biological signal of the affect of shame. Technically, from the viewpoint of affect theory (Tomkins, 2008), an affect is the biological portion of our emotions. Thus, envy and jealousy are emotional transformations of the affect shame.
The emotion of envy is often confused with jealousy. Envy is directed at another or others, wanting their qualities, success, or possession. Jealousy involves thinking you will lose, or have lost, some affection or security from another person because of someone or something else—including their interest in an activity that takes time away from you. Both jealousy and envy involve comparisons and contrasts. Comparison suggests similarity or equivalence, whereas contrast focuses on differences. At times you may compare yourself with another, but most often you will be focused upon contrasts based on negative feelings. How you feel about yourself is determined to a great degree by the comparison and contrast of your sense of self with what you consider to be your ideals, which may be projected upon another person. Contrasting yourself with an idealized image of another person magnifies shame that can threaten your self-stability. Any threat to your esteem—your established sense of self—will likely activate shame (Catherall, 2012), and, when you come up short in such contrasts, shame is experienced as envy or jealousy of another. To continue reading, click here.