Jealousy and envy are basic human emotions that we all have experienced from time to time, no matter how self-evolved, conscious, spiritual or intelligent we pride ourselves in being. There’s a difference between the two, however. The more I’ve distinguished between them, the more I’ve come to understand that my relationship with envy tells me a lot about my current level of self-esteem and experience of life.
First, let me define the two:
1. Fearful or wary of being supplanted; apprehensive of losing affection or position.
2. Resentful or bitter in rivalry: jealous of the success of others.
3. Having to do with or arising from feelings of envy, apprehension, or bitterness: jealous thoughts.
4. Vigilant in guarding something: We are jealous of our good name.
5. Intolerant of disloyalty or infidelity; autocratic
en·vy (nv)n. pl. en·vies
1. A feeling of discontent and resentment aroused by and in conjunction with desire for the possessions or qualities of another.
Synonyms: envy, begrudge, covet – These verbs mean to feel resentful or painful desire for another’s advantages or possessions. Envy, the most general, combines discontent, resentment, and desire.
Jealousy is the negative emotion associated with feeling like somebody else is trying to take what is yours.
Envy is wanting what someone else has and on some level resenting them for having it.
I started looking at my envy and it’s patterns. I realized that I normally only feel it when I’m envious of another woman that I deem to be similar to me: around the same age, same race, etc. I also noticed that I don’t feel envy all the time. Sometimes I really am genuinely thrilled for the other woman, and want to take her out to celebrate. I authentically feel good for her.
When I feel envy, it consumes a lot of my energy. It’s like my mind gets stuck on the thoughts and then hangs there for hours. I’m bitchy, self-critical, and nit-picky for the rest of the day. When I feel genuine happiness for the other person, it’s an energetic boost. I get even more pumped as I see her feeling good about herself when I’m happy for her.
What I see and desire/resent in another person are my own feelings being threatened. It’s a spotlight on my feelings of inadequacy and incompetence in myself.
By figuring out what I need to do to shift my internal state, I can be responsible for how my entire day goes.
The more I build my habits around developing a ritual as my daily foundation, the more emotionally stable I’ve become. Interestingly enough, this has happened around the same time my desires for unhealthy junk foods has faded away.
Without envy, I wouldn’t have been able to walk past iced cupcakes, cheesecake and pizza without a second glance. Without envy, I wouldn’t have discovered it’s opposite: genuine joy and delight.
Here are 8 Ways to Handle Envy:
1. Deconstruct why you feel envious in the first place.
From a place of self-compassion, try to figure out why you’re feeling envious. Sometimes envy is related to reliving an experience of inadequacy from the past. Other times it’s related to what you’re dealing with in the present: anger towards yourself, anxiety around finances, stress in a relationship.
If you’re honest with yourself, you will realize that feeling envious often rears its head at the same time you feel threatened, afraid of being abandoned or when you feel you just cannot trust the other person, no matter how little basis your lack of trust has. However, this isn’t an opportunity to bash yourself. Being compassionate about your self-assessment is an essential part of staying objective about your emotion.
2. Compliment the person you’re envious of.
«WHAT?! You must be kidding,» you might be thinking. Nope, I’m serious: this has worked for me multiple times. If I can muster the energy to compliment, this means I have to get myself into a mindset that’s genuine enough that I don’t sound icky. Forcing myself to get there changes my emotional state. This kick-starts me in another direction rather than spiraling into jealousy and resentment.
3. Realize that one person’s success does not take away from your success.
It’s natural to have the feeling that, if someone else is getting something, it means there’s less left for you. This is probably something subconscious running deep in your past: for instance, as a kid, your mom made one pot of pasta for dinner, so you had to dig in and eat before your selfish brother got your portion.
This lack-mindset robs you of your own happiness–and it’s unnecessary. One person’s success has nothing to do with yours. You can both be successful and the world will keep spinning in balance.
4. Make some private time for yourself to understand what it is you actually want.
Simply running on the fumes of your envy without stopping to consider what results you specifically want for you own life will keep you stuck in perpetual envy. It’s like a hamster running on a wheel. You need a pattern-interrupt. Create some time for yourself to journal, go for a walk and talk out loud, collage images of what you want from magazines, whatever. Getting clarity on what you want for yourself sets you energetically in motion towards getting it.
It’s also more fun than sitting around and stewing in your own sorry envy puddle.
5. Redirect conversation in the moment.
If you’re in the moment of envy as your friend is babbling on about her $20,000 bonus or her new designer shoes, reroute the conversation in another direction. Change the subject to something neutral that’s interesting: an upcoming event, a recent night out, a new project at work.
6. Evaluate false beliefs that are triggering your envy.
This is a tricky one, because it’s like looking at your own eyeball. Trying to find the beliefs you hold that are false is tough, because you have to basically tell yourself that what you believe in is a lie. Look for generalizations in your thoughts: «Everyone is out to take advantage of me» or «I never get picked» or «If this person leaves me, I’ll be completely alone forever». Beliefs are not permanent. They are generally not easy to change, but being aware of them is a huge leap in the direction of getting what you want.
Be aware that your thoughts can happen so quickly that you don’t even realize consciously that you’ve had a negative thought. Developing greater awareness of your thoughts and what triggers them is a large part of tackling the problem.
7. Take note of your physical responses.
Where do you feel the emotion you’re associating with envy? Is it in your stomach, like a dropping or clutching sensation? Maybe it’s in your jaw or throat as a tightening of muscles. It’s not unusual to feel a couple emotions at once, like insecurity, envy and anger. They also will shift as you begin to notice them. Your body is a beautiful indicator that will respond authentically in the moment. You can use it to guide your thinking and notice when your mind is running away with you.
8. Remember envy is about YOU, not the other person.
The other person’s words, actions and lifestyle have nothing to do with you. Own that your feelings are yours alone. By taking responsibility for your feelings, you then have the power to transform them. Until you do that, you stay stuck giving your power away to the world outside of you. It can be very difficult to own your nasty feelings and thoughts in the moment–but everything shifts the moment you do.
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