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  • Writer's pictureTracey Lee

I and J

Irritability and Jealousy.

I don't have pet peeves; I have whole kennels of irritation.

Whoopie Goldberg

Irritability! Hardly a noble state of being and one I might be slightly inclined to demonstrate on the odd occasion. It’s a piddly emotion really, somewhat unbecoming and completely unproductive. You give plenty when you are irritable and get absolutely nothing from it…except more irritated.

I’ll give an example. I have many but I’ll try to stick with one. Drawers and cupboard doors left open. It irritates the hell out of me. If you open something, then I believe you are morally and ethically obliged to shut the thing once you have finished. I also have a time limit on how long you can play the ‘I’m not finished card’. My irritability suggests or demands that it is within several seconds of the opening that the shutting should happen. Outside of this timeframe the inevitable tutting and foot stomping ramps up. Longer than a minute, I shut the door/drawer/lid with the requisite force to bring attention to the fact that I’m unhappy.

Someone calls this obsessive behaviour. He is aware that this is irritating as well.

But despite my excessive irritation at noisy eating, poor use of the English language, Australians only being portrayed as bogans, people trying to tell me about technology and cars, things on high cupboards, loud talkers, and the lack of actual qualifications of ‘influencers’ I am sincerely trying to be less irascible. My lifelong quest for zen-ness remains a work in progress.

Luckily irritability is not a permanent state of being. It is fleeting and can be controlled when the heart and mind are willing. It would be best served if the irritants could be avoided but life isn’t that easy and if you happen to be related to the irritant you do have to learn how to be forgiving. (see last week’s blog) Afterall there will be no lives lost if a cupboard door remains opened or the washing is not hung accurately on the clothes line. (Yes, there is a protocol for washing lines!)

It might occur to you that irritability may be the source of irritation for others. You would be right.

A more dangerous emotion is jealousy. It's not as short lived as irritation, and it can ruin lives. And because of its enormity it can’t be easily dismissed. We have all experienced some form of envy when we see something we would like to have, a place we want to be, a car we want to own but it’s a temporary desire for something we don’t have. And it’s usually materialistic.

But jealousy is born of something more than this. It has its roots in insecurity, abandonment and sometimes trauma. And it can be destructive. At the heart of relationships is trust. Jealousy erodes the basic tenets of our connection to one another. We trust that we have each other’s best interests at heart, we trust that someone won’t deliberately hurt us, or betray us. Jealousy tends to lead us to assume that good things will not come from our connections to others. It speaks to our insecurities and sense of imperfection. It screams aloud our inadequacies and denies us the happiness that comes from accepting that we deserve to be loved.

Philosophers, writers and theologians talk about the corrupting nature of jealousy. In Buddhism jealousy is considered one of the five poisons because it causes pain for, he/she who is jealous and the one who is the object of the feelings. The teachings suggest this is born of our sense of inadequacy and our tendency to see life as a race that must be won. Regardless of the consequences.

Jealousy doesn’t come with a cure. It is best avoided or at least treated in its early stages. It requires introspection and strong self-talk to avoid the heart shattering consequences of unbridled suspicion and anger. There’s a reason for jealousy being such a motivating force in literature. It has enormous power.

O, beware my lord of jealousy. It is the green-eyed monster which doth mock the meat it feeds on.

William Shakespeare (Iago from Othello)

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