The source of jealousy and envy derives from childhood. If a person is made to feel inadequate by the circumstances of their upbringing, the natural coping mechanism propels the individual toward overcoming this feeling. In order to feel okay, the person seeks out approaches that work. This often leads one to emphasize those areas where they excel over others, thus using various comparisons to gain the psychological upper hand. Well I am prettier than she is or I am a better athlete than he is or my parents have more money than they do or I am stronger and I can beat him up and the like serve, in some way, to give these individuals the satisfaction they lack about themselves, due to their low self image.
Unfortunately, this becomes a way of life for many and manifests into general jealousy and envy of whatever others have that they lack as though there were a limited supply of good looks, money, desirable men, women or any other commodity to go around. Often then when these individuals acquire the material wealth and imagined status which they eagerly and aggressively seek, they then revel in showing off how wealthy and successful they are by flaunting their material assets behind which they desperately endeavor to hide their pervasive feelings of inadequacy and low self esteem.
This pattern then, of comparing yourself to others, is inevitably a double-edged sword which cuts both ways. One may then wonder if the payoff of feeling better in certain instances is worth the pain of being cut when they find, as they so often do, a negative comparison in so many other ways. It may seem somewhat surprising at times how little it takes to generate that bad feeling for those so practiced at this self defeating dark art.
The other aspect that appears as a parallel theme for this type of individual is control. Those who greatly fear these negative comparisons tend to strive towards controlling situations and others in order to maximize the positive while minimizing the negative comparisons that they have to experience. Thus, these people are often very difficult to make plans with, always insisting on having things their way or no way. Also, when it comes to others they can be very manipulative and vindictive in their efforts to gain and maintain control of their behavior.
Taking the situation a step further, those who try the hardest at controlling outside circumstances often contrive, exaggerate and outright lie toward that end. They can also be overly careful about what company they keep and what restaurants and vacation spots they frequent to be as assured as possible that the experiences are as favorably predictable as possible.
Unfortunately, these individuals are, in the final analysis, caught in a tangled web of their own creation. They see the world through a prism that distorts benign acts and experiences and turns them into personal affronts that were neither meant nor intended as anything negative. As the expression goes, some people can read something into the phone book.