Have you ever had a moment when you become filled with envy listening to a friend gushing over some recent bit of good fortune? Have you ever wanted to shriek with fury because you’re listening to your dream come true for someone else? Then you feel awful because instead of feeling happy for your friend, you are letting envy taint the moment? I have and it’s a horrible feeling. It leaves a bad taste in your mouth and (if you’re anything like me) feeling like a lousy, rotten friend.
I’ve noticed that the green-eyed monster tends to rear its ugly head when I am feeling especially unspecial in my own life. It’s when I feel trapped, unsuccessful and unproductive that I am most likely to succumb to envy. It’s a sympathetic, seductive bitch of an emotion. It preys on insecurities and self-doubts. It convinces you that as long as your friend (or anyone else) is successful you can never be. It convinces you that there is only so much pie to go around and if your friend is enjoying a big slice then you won’t get any for yourself.
Of course none of this is true. However the strength of envy is that it doesn’t deal in reality it deals in illusion and self-doubts. It undermines our self-esteem and self-worth. It strikes when we are at our weakest. It sucks and makes a lousy period in your life even more lousy. So what can a person do about this? Not really sure, all I can describe is how I deal with it.
The first step that I find helpful is to acknowledge that I’m feeling envy. Sometimes I’ll even admit to the friend that it’s happened. That seems to take the fangs out of it. Then I need to look at my life and see what triggered the envy. Once I can see that more clearly I can figure out ways to diffuse the envy. Many times acknowledging the envy is the best solution. If that’s not enough then sometimes journaling through it or talking to a friend helps too.
For me, the best way to alleviate the envy is to find ways to feel more accomplished or satisfied in my own life. Focusing on the little things that make me happy – tea, friends, books. Other times I find that something like a gratitude journal or simply writing down a list of things I’m grateful for help improve my mood and attitude. Instead of focusing on what I don’t have in my life (which is often what triggered my envy in the first place), I focus on what brings joy into my life. It’s a simple, small step but I’ve found it’s very powerful.