You know that feeling. That feeling when you look at someone else’s life & think to yourself, “I wish that were me. Why does she have such a great body/hot boyfriend/great job/sweet wardrobe/combination of all those things?”
It’s envy, & it’s awful.
Very few people will actually admit aloud to feeling envious or jealous. It makes them feel alone, sad, petty & small. So it manifests itself in nasty, bad behaviour.
Of course, we all know that magazines & other media directed at us make it even worse. Celebrity “lifestyle” is addicting to read about & while it’s great to aspire to more than what you have, unrealistic lives do more harm than good. (Of course, media want you to feel jealous—how else can they sell you anything if you don’t think you’re good enough already?)
These patterns start so early in our lives—Teen magazine was my gateway drug, as well as a friend who was a couple of years older who had a very permissive parent, in stark, startling contrast to my very strict ones.
Not only are we programmed to feel jealous, but then we’re also taught that we need to always be nice, which causes a nasty little shame spiral when partnered with jealousy. However, envy & jealousy don’t make you a bad person. Feeling those feelings doesn’t define you.
Wouldn’t it be so nice to not live our lives like this, though? Wouldn’t it be great to be able to open up to other people’s victories so that we could be open to our own? Joy attracts more joy. Not to mention that learning how to control jealousy & envy towards others increases the state of grace you are in & makes you cool beyond cool.
- Be aware. Being aware of your feelings & clearly defining them is the first step in letting go of them. Don’t try to figure out the whys of your jealousy & envy, you just are, & that’s okay. Questioning it doesn’t serve your situation.
- Want to change. Envious thoughts & feelings can lead to depression, anger, & low self-esteem. It also causes a lot of unnecessary stress. You deserve better than that, baby!
- Recognize that “envy-lite” can be a powerful motivator. But remember there’s a difference between, “She looks great, I wonder how often she works out…” &, “Oh, I bet that skinny bitch has had sooooo much lipo!”
- Figure out the lesson you should be learning. Is your brain trying to tell you that it wants you to get to the gym & eat healthier? That you should be taking your job a little more seriously? That you should be more invested in your love relationships? If so, prove your envy wrong! You are in control of taking the necessary steps to change your situation to more closely reflect the one you may want. Ask yourself why you’re dissatisfied with your life. Write it down. Work through it.
- “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt Ask yourself why you’re allowing yourself to feel jealous. No one makes you feel any way—it’s a matter of your reactions. Act, don’t react.
- Be the change. Stop wishing the world were a different place & start acting like it is one. Go on a media diet—whether it’s Cosmo or Vogue, or lovely & twee indie fashion bloggers who are impeccably put together with perfect houses & husbands (clearly, my preferred brand of crack), if they make you feel bad about yourself, just stop. Don’t indulge these urges.
- Enough with the comparisons, already! There will always be someone with a bigger house, a better looking partner, a better job, a higher, tighter ass than you. Compare yourself to yourself—are you better off than you were a week, a month, a year ago? Look at how far you’ve come & what you’ve achieved already in this life.
- Tell your friends not to take your side. Let them know what your feelings are & hopefully they can help you change them to positive thoughts about the object of your jealousy.
- Express yourself creatively. Remember who you are. Get back in touch with yourself.
- Are you tired, overwhelmed, or hungry? At those times we are all more vulnerable to extra & unwelcome emotions. If you’re tired, take a nap, if even for only 20 minutes. If you’re overwhelmed, get somewhere quiet & take a breath. If you’re hungry, that’s easy—have a snack!
- Feel the feeling. Try to separate it from its back story. This will help you realize that it is a separate entity.
- Focus on what you’re grateful for. Look at everything you’ve been given, & the talents that you have. Spend more time thinking about those than the negatives. Every day for a week, write down 100 things that you are grateful for. Don’t repeat any of them.
- First world problems. Remember that a lot of the superficial things we wish we had in our lives are really just that—superficial. Wouldn’t it be awful if something horrible & shocking was thrown into your life? Grab some perspective by volunteering at a soup kitchen, homeless shelter, or food bank.
- You thought your way into this, think your way out. Recognize the jealousy, & flip it on its head to a positive thought.
- Rejoice in success. Got passed over for a promotion? Another writer got published? She’s skinnier than you? Be happy for them instead of wishing it were your life! Envy is the opposite of love: love seeks to celebrate the good in other people, & envy wishes to destroy it.