“I wish I had a body like that.”

These words slipped from my mind and out of my mouth recently when I was at a party and I noticed a fit (and also nearly middle aged) friend of mine looking amazing in a mini-skirt. In what seemed like a split second, I spoke words that not only expressed my desire to look that fabulous in a mini-skirt, but also my own insecurities about my current body size and shape.

One of my passions in life is to affirm the beauty in all people and, specifically, to help women accept and love their bodies and themselves more fully.

How embarrassed I was to have this envious statement come from me!

But, it happens to just about every one of us, even those who work hard on personal growth. Jealousy and envy creep up and come out in our thoughts, words and actions– sometimes when we least expect them.

You are probably well aware of how damaging jealousy can be to a love relationship, marriage or even a friendship. You may struggle with fears that your partner will leave you for someone more attractive/successful/sexy/funny or whatever. This can manifest in interrogation, accusation and spying too.

You might jealously worry that your friends will stop inviting you out or stop confiding in you because there are “so many” others who are better friends/cooler/more fun/more interesting or whatever your insecure mind comes up with.

You may be envious of the “good luck,” passionate relationship, prosperous bank account, creative talents or amazingly fit body of friends, family or strangers walking down the street.

Jealousy and envy can wreak havoc on a relationship with another person. Distance and conflict are inevitable after-effects that can lead to a breakup or the end of the relationship.

This unwanted duo is also painful and destructive to you.

There is no doubt that trying to keep a relationship or friendship together when you are weighed down by habitual jealous or envious thoughts is difficult. Adding to this is the emotional pain and exhaustion that often accompany this way of thinking, believing and acting.

It’s a lot of work to carry around all of these doubting, fearful, worrisome and self-deprecating beliefs!

Your self esteem tends to plummet, you might experience physical and emotional health problems and it’s nearly impossible to enjoy the life you have and reach your goals.

Recognize jealousy and envy when they first crop up.

A common reaction to noticing uncomfortable thoughts or feelings is to ignore or push them down. This is understandable, but not beneficial. When that envious statement came out of my mouth at the party, I very quickly felt like crawling in a hole. I felt immature and not very enlightened or healthy about my own body image.

Despite urges you might have to deny or numb out so that you can’t “hear” your jealous or envious thoughts, it’s really in your best interests to acknowledge them and do so as soon as you notice them.

It’s just about always easier to tend to destructive habits when they’re just cropping up and before they intensify and solidify. This is common sense, but very few of us take the time to actually do it.

So, here’s your (and my) reminder to be courageous and acknowledge jealousy and envy as soon as you notice them. Don’t make yourself “wrong” or even “right” or “justified” for thinking and feeling this way, just notice.

Even if you catch yourself in the middle of speaking out loud or taking action from a place of jealousy or envy, catch yourself and pause. Focus in on acknowledging what’s real for you in the moment without judgment and without continuing down that habitual path.

Pay attention to what jealousy and envy are trying to tell you.

It’s time to get curious. Thoughts like, “I wish I had a body like that” don’t just form from nothing. There is almost always a deeper story and set of beliefs and desires that link up to jealousy and envy.

Any fearful, worrisome or self-deprecating thoughts, words and actions are more than what they seem. They are rarely just off-the- cuff remarks. They indicate places where you are possibly hurting, insecure or wanting a change.

Instead of merely brushing off your jealousy and envy– because it’s more comfortable to do so– take that second and deeper look at what your thoughts, words and actions are trying to tell you.

*What is possibly unresolved and yet to heal from your past?
*What might be going on right now that is not in alignment with your values and goals?
*What do you desire to change about yourself or to experience differently?
*What is (at least) one thing you can do to challenge those limiting beliefs and start to make a shift?

Again, move away from labeling any part of this process “right,” “wrong,” “good” or “bad.” Really listen and learn from your jealousy and envy and then decide what your next move will be