It’s Pitch Wars time, and that means some of you are about to get some great news, but even more of you are about to face profound disappointment. So let’s discuss how to deal with that ever-present problem, jealousy.
It’s not a secret that every writer has a problem with jealousy. This isn’t limited to authors with huge egos, nor will you only be jealous of authors you don’t like and think are overrated. The day will come, if it hasn’t already, when your best friend who you love dearly gets something good and you don’t and you will be jealous.
This problem is especially acute during Pitch Wars, because unlike most publishing experiences, Pitch Wars is a zero-sum situation. Every author who gets chosen means that other authors didn’t get chosen.
To deal with this feeling, I recommend a technique from cognitive behavioral therapy. Most people are familiar with cognitive behavioral therapy as a treatment for depression, addiction, and other mental illnesses, but its practical, common-sense techniques can be used by anyone, and they’re perfectly suited for situations like this, where you’re experiencing an emotion that you don’t want to have.
The basic principle of cognitive behavioral therapy is that how you feel is caused by what you think. So the first step is to consciously acknowledge what you are thinking. While it may seem like the event (another author being chosen while you were passed over) directly caused the feeling (jealousy), in fact there’s always an intermediate thought, probably something along the lines of “I deserved to be chosen more than they did.” Maybe there are additional thoughts, like “I’ll never get published” or “no one appreciates good writing.”
Once you’ve recognized your thoughts, come up with an alternate thought (or several) that’s more healthy and expresses how you want to feel about the situation. For instance, “this author is a good writer and they deserved to be chosen” or “I can still be successful even though this opportunity didn’t work out.”
To replace your unhealthy thought with this new thought, try writing it down or putting it on a flash card you can look at when you feel jealous. Better yet, express the thought to the person you’re jealous of. Tell them that you’re glad they got into Pitch Wars and they deserve it. If you make a habit of doing this, your thought patterns will eventually change and, as a result, your feelings will too.
No trick can completely eliminate jealousy. No matter where you are in your career, someone else will always be achieving something you didn’t, and the feeling will return. These practical techniques will help you build healthier thought patterns so you can celebrate other authors’ successes rather than falling victim to negativity.