By turning negative emotions (like jealousy) into positive actions, says blogger Kara Perez, you can shape your financial future for the better.

Envy is a powerful emotion that can be very difficult to turn on its head—particularly when it comes to your finances. It’s easy to let the green-eyed monster take control when you see someone living the life you want.

That should be me, you might say to yourself. You might pore over someone’s Instagram feed, or find yourself bringing the same person up in conversation repeatedly. Jealousy grows quickly and easily. It’s a hugely destructive emotion that leads to harmful behaviors: Jealousy can make you act resentful and petty in relationships. It can also distract you from achieving your goals. You can become so wrapped up in being jealous that you stop being productive.

Instead of letting jealousy consume you, use it as a tool to send you in the direction you really want to go. By identifying what you’re jealous of, you can take actionable steps to turn that jealousy into more productive emotions.

The good news is jealousy can morph into motivation pretty easily. You can turn your negative emotions into positive ones and start crushing your own goals in four steps. To change your life, all you need to do is change the direction of your emotions.

Step One: Understand Your Jealousy

First, you’ll have to face your jealousy head on. You can’t beat jealousy until you understand it. Let’s say you’re jealous of your friend Paul’s plan to buy a house next month. Paul has the money for a 25 percent down payment, and he’s moving into your dream neighborhood.

Break down your jealousy. Are you jealous Paul has money that you don’t? That he’s doing something you aren’t (or presently can’t)? That he’s going to get something you want? Naming your jealousy helps you take back the power.

Facing our negative emotions is the only way to beat them. If we let them take over, we’ve surrendered. By confronting them directly, we squash the hold they have over us.

Step Two: Get Motivated

Now that you’ve identified what makes you jealous, it’s time to turn that jealousy into motivation.

Jealousy is a pretty useless emotion. It consumes your time and energy—and gives nothing back. When you turn jealousy into motivation, accomplishments follow.

You’re jealous of Paul because he has the money for a large down payment. Right now, you can’t afford that. Just because you can’t pull thousands of dollars out of anywhere right now doesn’t mean you can’t afford to someday.

Paul has something you want at this moment. With some time and work, you too can have that same thing. The fact that Paul has it doesn’t mean you can’t have it. It’s not forever out of your reach. It’s just a little further down the road.

The key to defeating jealousy is recognizing that someone having something doesn’t exclude you from having that same thing. Opportunity is everywhere. It just might not arrive at the same time for all of us. That doesn’t mean it will never come.

Step Three: Take Action

The next step is to take action and implement change into your life. You know what you want. You know you can get it. The thing is to figure out how you’ll get it.

The easiest way to figure out how to achieve something is to engineer your dreams. If you want to buy your dream house, you’ll need to start saving for a down payment, eliminate debt, and make sure your credit score is in good shape.

Luckily, all these things tie together. By making on-time monthly payments on any debt you have, your credit score will go up. By eliminating debt, you’ll have more money to save for the down payment. The bigger the down payment, the better mortgage you’ll be eligible for.

A few simple financial steps you can take right away are:

  • Open a savings account specifically for your down payment
  • Organize your current financial situation—so you know how much money you have coming in and going out
  • Set up a visual reminder in your home of what you’re saving for.

Step Four: Practice Gratitude

The final step is to acknowledge—and be thankful for—the things you already have in your life. Remember: Jealousy tries to minimize the wonderful things you already have, reminds you of what you don’t have, and tries to convince you that your entire life stinks without whatever it is.

Looking around and reminding yourself of good things you already have is another powerful tool in the fight against jealousy. Life is full of wonder and sparkle. It’s important to remember that as often as you can. Beat jealousy at its own game by savoring the life you already live.

It’s never easy to fight the green-eyed monster, but you can turn negative emotions around and put them to work doing good in your life. Jealousy eats away at you; action elevates you.

Redirecting the negative emotions in your life into positive ones helps you feel in control of your life and helps you achieve your goals. Let jealousy become your fuel and watch what you accomplish.

Kara Perez is a freelance personal finance writer living in Austin, Texas. She is passionate about helping people become financially literate and telling people’s money stories.

Any third-party resources or websites referenced above are not under Society of Grownups control. Society of Grownups cannot guarantee and are not responsible for the accuracy of the resources, websites, or any products or services available through such resources or websites.

While Society of Grownups hopes the information is useful, it’s only intended to provide general education. It’s not legal, tax, or investment advice, and may not apply or be useful to your specific financial situation. If you need recommendations geared to your personal financial situation, schedule time with a financial planner.

Let's take action, Grownup.

Check out our courses to start taking action on your goals any time.

Take a course

Let's stay in touch, Grownup.