I feel bad admitting it, but I’m jealous of my friends’ lives. It seems that everyone I know is getting their dream job, traveling to a dazzling country, getting married, or otherwise living an exciting, happy life. I feel like I don’t measure up. How can I get over my envy and be happy with what I do have? – Jeri in Beaverton, OR
There are three burning forces at work when experiencing jealousy or envy. First is the feeling that these emotions are bad or wrong in some way. Second are feelings of inadequacy. And third is the sense of negative energy swirling around. However, if you take a step back, this is the perfect opportunity to gain clarity and then leverage your newfound perception with purpose.
Strong emotions, such as jealousy and envy, are considered by some, even today, as “deadly sins.” This in turn equates to the popular notion that they are unhealthy. They come hand-in-hand with their offshoots of anxiety and woe. Simply put, envy is the pain caused by desire, and jealousy evokes pain from the fear of losing our advantages. Both are inherent in the human psyche throughout history, and are common to all people. In other words, they are a natural part of our being human.
Let me repeat that. They are normal, everyday human emotions. They are also often used interchangeably. Feeling “jealous” of your friends’ lives fits the definition of envy. Your desire to have the dream job, exotic trips, and committed relationship is envy. This feeds into your feelings of inadequacy and attacks your self-esteem. Cue the negative energy.
What’s truly powerful is your capability to choose how you react to feelings of envy. It’s an opportunity to explore what matters to you, and what you want. Gain clarity to grow, and in growing, acquire the things you desire. Leverage your feelings for self-empowerment, and lend your energy to the positive.
When I feel envy, it’s my own internal wake up call to pay attention, to dig deep and ask myself why I am feeling this way. If it makes me uncomfortable, so much the better. There is something there I need to bring up to the light of day. There is something I need to process, understand, and take action on.
Envy has a benefit when you put it to use for your own self-awareness. Harness the ability to explore the clues provided in your feelings of envy. Hash it out. Maybe that dream job comes with loads of extra hours or being constantly on call. Is that your dream? Do you have a passion for strange lands, or are you filled with joy when visiting with friends and family? You can use envy to your advantage to compare possibilities and identify your deepest wishes. Then put a plan in motion to attain your aspirations. Put your jealous or envious feelings to work for you on the journey to inner contentment.
Lynn Whitbeck is the co-founder and President of Petite2Queen. She is focused on identifying and evaluating opportunities for women at work, helping them define their personal roadmap. She dedicates herself to delivering tools and insights, embracing visualization of the big picture, and identifying and implementing the minutiae of detail. Lynn aims to share lessons learned along her journey and enable positive uplift for women.