6 min read

You deserve this. Bye. (Dealing with jealousy)

You deserve this. Bye. (Dealing with jealousy)
  • Why do people get jealous when you shine?
  • How to recognise that behaviour in yourself.
  • Two things to focus on when people are negative.
  • The single most essential skill for women who shine.

Why do people get jealous when you shine?

This week, I got a message from a follower on LinkedIn.

Hey Alicia! You probably get so many random messages but this might be fun! I am interested in your experiences with jealousy. I see your star shine (wonderful!). Mine has begun to shine too (also wonderful), and it's complex. I am on the receiving end of solid dislike from my colleagues, and I would like to know if you have any reflections on this or tips!? It makes me uncomfortable though I know it is not about me. It isn't helpful or supportive of good work because the individuals tend to get defensive or exclusionary around me. 

Here's what I wrote back:

Hi {NAME}! Congratulations on your rising star. Being incredible makes people uncomfortable. It's also an excellent filter and a magnet for those who will bring perspectives and support that expand you. Nobody who stood for anything important was universally liked. I advise focusing on two things and practising one crucial skill. Focus on your peace and your contribution. In that order. Practice: being unapologetic. Women have a harder job of that because we need to unlearn humility and a sense of internalised apology for our very existence. So we need to practice. Keep smashing it. You'll attract your people. The rest are just noise.

I haven't stopped thinking about it, so I dug deeper.

Assuming that our author isn't imagining things, why do people get like this? 

The answer is simple: people are astonishingly self-centred. By people, I mean you. If someone has a problem with you, chances are it's their shit. And if that becomes a problem for you... well, you get the picture.

We live in a hall of mirrors. We don't see the world as it is; we see it as we are. Every experience and person in our orbit passes through a filter of "...what does this say about me?"

We live in a house of mirrors. We don't see the world as it is; we see it as we are. Every experience and person in our orbit passes through a filter of "...what does this say about me?"

This is true on both sides of the coin. If people approve of what you're doing and praise you for it, you confirm something they like about themselves. The same is true when you agree with what someone else does.

Think about someone you're scornful of. Does this person reflect something you don't like about yourself?

Think about someone you admire. Does this person reflect something you appreciate in yourself? 

Once we realise we live in a giant funhouse of self-projection, navigating the world becomes more straightforward. Praise stops rushing to our heads so quickly, and rejection or criticism feels less weighty.

Which brings us back to the original question: why do other people get hostile when you start to shine? With the hall-of-mirrors theory, the answer would be one of the following:

  • You're doing something they wish they could but feel they aren't allowed, aren't capable of, or aren't being recognised for
  • You're exhibiting behaviours or characteristics they recognise in themselves, which they aren't comfortable or at peace with
  • You're challenging or disproving a story they must believe to safely navigate the world.

How to recognise that behaviour in yourself

Because we're so self-centred, we can't fully understand how self-centred people we are until we become self-centred enough to acknowledge our own self-centredness.

Did you make sense of that word salad? If so, well done. If not, here's what I'm suggesting: to put other people's behaviour into perspective, identify where it's showing up in your life. (Otherwise known as check yourself before you wreck yourself.)

What are you judgemental or dismissive of? Which traits do you find most distasteful? What careers do you think are a waste of time? What kind of content do you hate seeing in your feed? What are your pet peeves and frustrations?

And for every answer: what does this tell you about yourself? 

I'm disdainful of empty-headed, self-promoting garbage posting on LinkedIn that feels like a Ponzi scheme for LinkedIn posting. Is it a coincidence that I'm a self-promoting LinkedIn poster? OF COURSE NOT. I'M UNCOMFORTABLE WITH MY SHIT, DUH.

Two things to focus on when people are negative

Which leads me to my next point. In my response message, I wrote : 

Focus on your peace and your contribution. In that order.

I stand by it. It's a two-step process.


Other people's criticism, judgement, or negativity (which you now recognise is a flashing neon sign pointing to their own shit) can only affect you if part of you believes it's true. If you're worried people think you're getting too big for your boots, it's because a little voice inside tells you they're right.

If you're worried other people think your content is cringe, your work is lame, your art is derivative, or your leadership is ineffective, it's because you believe that about yourself.

When you believe in yourself and your work, the reactions of others fade into the background - both the positive and the negative. When you're at peace with yourself and your actions, you're less vulnerable to becoming a self-doubting hand-wringer - or a praise-hungry egomaniac.

Your number one job in life is to be cool with you. Do that, and you can help others. Avoid it, and you'll always be chasing something. In short, get some therapy, man. At the very least, hit up Byron Katie's 4 Questions to put your least helpful stories in the bin.


Peace with yourself enables service for others. You unleash your potential to serve when you aren't hamstrung by unhelpful stories. The mumbles and glances of others are background noise when you're focused on making a positive change in the world. 

Every time your attention starts to fold inward - How does this make me look? What will people think? Am I really up to this? Is this too risky? - grab it by the scruff of the neck and point it in the other direction. Who does this help? What do they need? How do they feel? What can I bring to this situation to make it better? 

These two things work together. Every time the naggy little voice pipes up to tell you the naysayers are correct, you can look at the evidence you've compiled about your impact to head it off at the pass. By the same token, when you doubt the quality of your contribution, interrogate which of your unhelpful stories need debunking.

The single most essential skill for women who shine

I said 'as a woman', not 'as a person,' even though I know 50% of my readership are men. I stand by it (see what I did there...). The disease of downplaying our accomplishments is not exclusively contracted by women, but damn, we get a man-flu-sized dose of it. Here's why.

We live in a society that tells us we exist to serve others, and anything else demands an apology.

We work in environments where we feel compelled to start our meeting contributions with "Sorry..." or "This might be a dumb idea, but..." because we've been taught that most of what we do and say is an apology-worthy offence.

We live in households where we carry out at least two and a half times more unpaid household and care work than men - which increases when we become the primary breadwinners because that's our lot. To sacrifice our time, labour, and energy so that others can enjoy their leisure.

We date in a world where our ambition threatens our potential partners and find ourselves making the ambition/ marriage trade-off.

We're educated in schools and work in organisations where stricter performance standards are imposed on women, even when women and men hold the same job. Is it any wonder we underestimate our performance by 30%, compared to men who achieve the same result?

We push past unconscious and institutionalised bias to rise to leadership positions where we're consistently rated higher on almost all leadership qualities but where most of the roles are still held by men.

Then, when we do work for women CEOs, half of those appointments were made as hospital pass 'turnaround' positions following a legacy of ineptitude and corruption - and we see them exited swiftly after the fuss dies down.

The pay gap is realDomestic inequality is realCorrosive, daily, casual misogyny is realStructural inequity is real. It is all real. So it's no surprise we've internalised the idea that we should apologise for ourselves and our success.

The most essential skill any woman can learn is to live unapologetically, without explanation, justification, or apology. 

Prioritise your career without explaining or justifying why. Put your kids in daycare, and hire a cleaner, because your work is not an indulgence to feel guilty about - it's WORK, DAMMIT. Look after yourself without pointing out how it makes you a better mother, partner, friend, daughter, or employee. 

Do not explain how educated you are, how hard you've worked, or how many sacrifices you've made to justify your accomplishments. Do not downplay your brilliance or mention how lucky you are, how grateful you feel, or how you couldn't have done it alone. For god's sake, you HAVE done much of it alone! (At least two and a half times of it at home, for starters.)

Do not accept you'll need to put in twice the effort to settle for half the rewards. Do not feel guilty for wanting, chasing, striving, or receiving. Your ambition is excellent. It's hot. I love it.

And if you're ever in doubt, watch this award acceptance speech from Issa Rae every morning and practice saying parts of it for yourself. In particular:

"I deserve this. Bye."


Til next week,


PS - If the latter part of this newsletter brought you joy, you'll love this one from my Substack.

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Weekly insights and practical guidance to help you break free from the bullshit and find freedom and fulfilment in your life and career.

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