15 signs of a jealous spirit (and what to do about it)

Jealousy is an ugly thing. It’s ranked as one of the 7 deadly sins because the power of jealousy can push even a good person to perform ugly actions.

But here’s something that you may not have realized: jealousy doesn’t just affect the jealous person. It negatively affects the person they’re jealous of.

That’s right. Your friend’s jealousy of you might be bringing you down.

Now, a jealous spirit isn’t always easy to spot. That’s why we’ve come up with a simple guide of 15 signs of a jealous spirit. Then, once you know how to identify a jealous spirit, we’ll show you what you can do to stop the jealousy from consuming your life.

1) They ask you uncomfortable questions

Though asking probing questions may seem innocuous, a jealous spirit will use deep, uncomfortable questions to try and rattle you. If they’re jealous of your relationship with your significant other, expect them to asks questions like, “do you think he could be cheating on you?”

See? The jealous spirit has planted a seed of doubt in your mind, possibly destabilizing your relationship. This is to bring you down to their level. If a jealous person can’t be as great as you, then they’ll need you to be as low as them!

2) They compliment you all the time

If someone is showering you with all the praise, and the praise somehow feels a little hollow — a little forced, odds are that person is jealous of you. They may be using the praise to fight against their own insecurity, hoping that by praising you they’ll seem like a good person.

But, it also could be that their over-the-top, public praise is a sneaky way to hog your spotlight. Think about it: if one person continuously, publicly praises you for everything you do, then other people will associate them with your great achievements.

Look at that — they just got some unearned credit.

3) Their compliments are always backhanded

Number 2 and 3 go hand-in-hand. Right after the jealous spirit gives you a great compliment on your killer speech you gave to the board, they follow it up with “…and barely anyone noticed your stutter,” or some other kind of weird, uncalled for verbal jab.

This is effective, because it rattles you. You think: oh God, I hope nobody noticed. And your jealous spirit implies, “nobody but me noticed, I got your back.”

Suddenly, your jealous spirit has taken your victory and turned it into something to be embarrassed about, something that they hold over you.

4) They brag about their own achievements

Your friend’s jealous spirit is masking a deep-seated insecurity. To reduce this insecurity, they’ll brag about their accomplishments and achievements, both to make themselves feel better and to make you feel like you should be jealous of them.

Don’t take the bait. Congratulate them briefly, but politely. This will take the air out of their bragging.

5) Everything is a competition

Jealousy is when someone wants what you have. That could be material goods, successes, relationships — anything! And a jealous person will try all sorts of different avenues to get what you have.

A common tactic is to be competitive with you. If you buy a new car, they’ll buy a new car. If you put your heart and soul into publishing a book, they suddenly will have to one up you with an even bigger and better book.

Look: there’s nothing wrong with a little healthy competition, and a smidge of jealousy can be helpful in motivating someone. But, with a jealous spirit, the jealousy is overwhelming.

Competition isn’t friendly. It isn’t restricted to certain, acceptable zones (like you and your colleague compete to have your proposal selected). Instead, it’s present in all aspects.

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6) They steal your successes

If you notice that every time you have an amazing achievement, one person consistently tries to take credit for it, you’ll know you’re dealing with a jealous spirit. Got a new girlfriend? The jealous spirit can’t stop telling everyone how he set you up.

Completed a project at work? Oh look, your jealous friend miraculously claimed credit for it to her boss. A jealous spirit this toxic isn’t even spurred to competition. They simply want you to do all the work, and they get to reap the benefits.

7) They put you down in front of people

These putdowns can range from catty comments to backhanded compliments to embarrassing stories to straight-up humiliating insults.

But, without fail, these putdowns are in front of an audience — typically an audience of people who you value. The jealous spirit is trying to shake your relationships, wanting to make the people you value think less of you.

Don’t put up with this. Cut them out of the friend group immediately.

8) They lead you astray

Jealous spirits hate it when you succeed. They also love to see you fail. As such, they’ll try and give you bad advice, hoping that you will trip up. Watch out for unsolicited and unusual advice. Odds are, it’s a trap.

9) They always cut you off

I’m not talking about cutting you off in traffic (though they probably would do that too), I’m talking about in conversation. If every time you are telling a great story, you find that one person consistently chops your story off before you finish, it is likely this person has a jealous spirit.

They may cut you off so that they can tell the punchline of your joke, or the climax of your story — thus stealing your thunder. Or, they may simply cut you off to try and isolate you from the friend group.

Either way, it’s totally toxic.

10) They copy you

Imitation may be the highest form of flattery, but it’s also a patently obvious sign of a jealous spirit. A jealous spirit wishes for your success, your achievements, your whole embodiment. In order to try and gain what you have, they’ll try anything.

When a jealous person is very insecure in their own skin, they’ll gravitate toward copying you, because their vision of you is stronger than their own personality.

It’s best to ignore their copycat behavior. Without oxygen, their jealous fire may simply die out.

11) They blow up your plans

Jealous spirits like to see you fail. They will actively work to ensure your failure — no matter how small the situation. If you’ve been planning a big party, or perhaps a big outing with friends, they will figure out a way to derail your work.

It could be as small as promising to drive everyone and then suddenly being unavailable when they’re needed. Or, it could be as aggravating as them continuously criticizing the party, trying to drag everyone down to their level.

No matter the action, your decision should remain the same: plan around them and try and remove them as quickly as possible from the event.

12) They say you’re lucky

Hey! You just got that amazing promotion you were dying for. “Wow, you’re so lucky.”

Congrats, you finally closed on that house you’ve been working on for months. “Some people have all the luck.”

No matter your achievement, their response is still the same: it all boils down to luck.

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When a jealous spirit does this, it’s because they’re trying to delegitimize your achievements. This works to both make you feel inferior and make the jealous spirit feel less bad about not achieving what you have achieved. If it boils down to luck, then the jealous spirit can rationalize their failure as “being unlucky.”

13) They spread rumors about you

This one is harder to identify, because people typically do not spread rumors in front of their victims. Instead, a jealous spirit will spread a rumor about you to other people, and you’ll only find out about it later from someone else.

Tracking down who spread the rumor can be complicated, but once you figure out who did it, you may find that this person also exhibits many of the traits we’ve already identified on this list. If the rumor-spreader’s behavior fits this pattern, odds are that they have a jealous spirit.

14) They criticize everything you do

For some reason, nothing you do seems to measure up to someone with a jealous spirit. That amazing piece of music you composed? Eh, it was pretty reductive. That bonus you got for your performance. Wow, that’s pretty small. The Christmas gift you gave them? Well, I guess it’s the thought that counts.

Criticism doesn’t always signify a jealous spirit, but when it is combined with many other symptoms on this list, it’s a sure sign that your “friend” is jealous of what you have achieved.

15) They simply hate you

You can’t explain it. You’ve never done anything to slight them. You’ve gone out of your way to be friendly. And yet, they always treat you with disdain and cruelty.

In our experience, we’ve found that it’s really rare for someone to hate someone else for no apparent reason. There’s usually a hidden reason behind it. If you’ve done nothing to slight someone, and they continue to treat you with contempt, it might be because they are jealous of you.

Why do people get jealous?

A person usually develops a jealous spirit because of a key reason: they have low self-esteem.

A person who has low self-esteem or lacks confidence doesn’t believe that they themselves are a strong enough spirit. They don’t take pride in their own accomplishments or even believe that they can achieve success. This insecurity manifests itself as jealousy whenever they see someone who achieves what they are insecure about.

Perhaps a man is insecure about his body image because he was mocked in high school. He envies his friend’s muscular physique. But instead of simply working a little harder to build up his own body, he lets this jealous spirit take over, making the relationship toxic.

Now, he gives his friend bad fitness tips, overexerts himself trying to bench press more than his friend, and even dangerously doesn’t spot his friend correctly — all due to jealousy.

How to deal with a jealous spirit

There are many different ways that you can neutralize a jealous spirit. The path you choose comes down to how much emotion and energy you wish to invest.

1) Distance yourself

If a jealous spirit won’t leave you alone (and continues to interact with you negatively), then the easiest choice is to distance yourself from that person. If they are in your friend group, stop inviting them to get-togethers. Decline invitations, or only see the person in larger social settings where you can easily get up and walk away.

Reducing contact in these situations is ideal. You no longer get bullied, and the jealous spirit spends less time stewing on their hate and insecurity.

2) Redirect focus

If you think that you can salvage the relationship (or it isn’t feasible to cut the jealous spirit out of your life — like if they are a coworker), then a positive solution may be to redirect attention onto the jealous spirit.

Stop talking about yourself. You may not be bragging, but it fuels the jealous spirit’s fire. Instead, compliment the jealous spirit. Ask genuine questions about their passions and accomplishments. This may help heal that spirit’s insecurity, and give them the confidence to exist on their own, rather than as a social parasite.

3) Confront the issue politely

Lastly, you can simply confront the jealous spirit directly. This is best accomplished not directly after a jealousy episode — as tempers can run high. Instead, it may be best to invite the jealous person for a little 1 on 1 — like a friendly coffee break — and bring up a time that the jealous spirit offended you through their actions.

Be polite, but firm. Explain how the jealous spirit’s actions impacted you, by relying on I statements (I felt really upset when you insulted my project in front of our boss).

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You can follow this up with a question, such as “why did you do that?” Or you could end with a request, “I’d appreciate it if you didn’t belittle me in the future.”

It’s a bold approach, but it can be effective. Just remember to be polite, but firm.

Jealous Spirit: Don’t let them shake you

A jealous spirit grows from insecurity. Don’t let someone’s insecurity take you down to their level. Once you identify a jealous spirit, take immediate steps to safeguard your well-being. Distance yourself, redirect focus, or confront the spirit directly.

Remember, they’re jealous of you because you’re awesome. Take heart in that.

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