This week’s article will solely focus on the feeling of envy and how we perceive, absorb and manage it. Whether you’re on the receiving end or you happen to be the one that’s dishing it out, I have chosen to address this as a topic because I feel like I’ve seen a lot of this emotion in the past year.
So, what exactly is envy you might ponder? It is a feeling of resentful longing that is awakened by someone else’s reality. This can range from possessions to qualities or even to feeling envious about someone else’s luck. An example of being envious is to desire what belongs to someone else with a negative note in the air. For instance, you might find yourself feeling waves of frustration when a friend enlightens you to some good news they’ve received, e.g., a work promotion, a flourishing relationship or simply the achievement of personal goals.
Emotions don’t travel alone
Often when we come into contact with this hefty emotion, we are overwhelmed as it is usually accompanied by a wave of other emotions that play into it. It begins to weave some sort of web, synched with negative connotations and prompts. Now, what we do with envy itself can either be destructive or progressive, depending on how we grasp it. Take the child and toy scenario for example. You are five years old. Half way into reception about to go into year one and Camille has brought in the toy you’ve wanted all year. It is show and tell time and you’re all super excited to share with your peers. But not you. Camille possesses the golden prize and you’re holding the same Beyblade you bring in every month. You start of by comparing yourself and then you unconsciously delve into questioning mode. Why do I not have this? Do I not deserve this too? When can I have this?
As a child you will not be able to see many perspectives to the situation however, as an adult, you will look at it differently. When we encounter situations that cause us to feel envious, we weigh up all possible outcomes and in particular, reasons for feeling this way. We either swamp ourselves in self-pity and weep internally for all that we haven’t acquired or we perceive it as a ‘challenge of self’ which is certainly the better side to it.
The ‘challenge of self’ follows a pattern such as: I haven’t got this. Why do I not have this? What steps do I take to get this? What is my first step in order to do so? Whereas the internal weeping routine looks something like: I haven’t got this so I must automatically decrease in value. Others having this irritates me but I don’t necessarily understand why. Why not me? Why them? I should have this. I deserve it even though I don’t really want to put the work in to achieve it. Is there a shortcut around it? I’ll just stay annoyed even though I subconsciously know this will not yield what I want but rather drain me of my energy. Do it anyway until it fades into the background.
Use your envy to achieve your goals
If we process the emotion somewhat positively, it’ll look a lot like the ‘challenge of self’ routine instead. This is because we don’t spend time wallowing about how it should, could or would be. We simply accept what we are feeling and try to come up with a structure that makes us look at it in a goal achieving light; something we want to actively gain hold of rather than hoping and wishing alone. This is definitely the better way to handle that strong feeling of jealousy and a lot more constructive.
Of course, it is entirely normal to spend some time in the internal weeping passage as we are only human. Remember, it is key not to measure how much time others spend here and to look at yourself. It is also OK to do a bit of both, but equally important to recognise when something is causing more damage than good. When we feel envious of something our emotions can range from anything between admiration and inspiration, to resentment and severe ego wounding. This process can be quite destructive if you are in a shallow space or currently at war with yourself but can also push you to harness what your eyes have been set on, if approached correctly. Not everything we envy is material and a lot of the time happens to be internal.
There’s only one ‘you’
Another note I’d like to make is that when looking at an individual for whatever reason, and you feel this urge of jealousy begin to simmer, remind yourself that you and this person are two very different people, at two very different stages of life. Not everyone has your experiences and not everyone holds it together the same. What you may deem catastrophically stressful someone else might handle in silence and move on from swiftly. Where you might find yourself dealing with ease, others may struggle and drown there.
Quite frequently we tend to analyse each other’s lives and compare hardships for many reasons; one being comfort and another reassurance. I’m sure we’ve all been in a situation where we’ve thought to ourselves, “Rah it’s like that. Just handed over to them on a silver plate. Meanwhile I’ve been going through the motion for time and still don’t have that. This is unfair!”. No, it is not unfair and yes maybe you have been finding it hard to cope for a while. Often, we forget that everyone carries things differently. A lot of the time we expect everyone around us to be cut from the same cloth and built up the same resilience. I can assure you that no one is.
I’ve watched people I’ve been in care with exceed outstanding targets and have been amazed every time. I’ve also watched others go from ‘got my shit together’ to rock bottom. The scale for this is very large and we forget that sometimes. What might take me years to harness, you might complete by tomorrow. And what might take you months to understand, I will have grasped the concept of within a matter of hours. It’s important to keep this in mind, especially when comparing yourself and your personal situations to others.
Recognising the negative to find the positive
Let’s shine a little light on the self-pity side of things. Nobody really gains any pleasure from discussing this part, however, it’s crucial that we do. You cannot waltz through life only choosing to see and discuss the good, unfortunately it doesn’t function that way. As said above, it’s important that you accept and acknowledge being at this stage when it comes to yourself and where you stand in it all. It’s essential to actively aim to recognise where and why you are overspending time in a particular space.
We spend a lot of time thinking about how others impact us badly when often, we are our own poison without being aware of it. Taking action once you recognised that you’re in this space can be draining and difficult but it is doable. People around you (your support bubble) can try to help you and boost you up but they cannot do the legwork for you. This is the tricky side to it. You have to first sit yourself down and have the ‘I comprehend, I feel, I therefore can’ convo with yourself. Some people may find this extremely beneficial by following the given structure and others might find it annoying and boring but regardless, this seems to be the most logical process to follow in order to actually get somewhere.
Most of the time, we find ourselves faced with emotions we deem hard to digest. Stating the obvious, the majority of emotions we deal with when in this phase are negative and quite the handful. I know we all wish we could somehow avoid those and go around them with as little damage as possible, but the reality is, that at one point we will either find them standing right in front of our noses or on top of our heads and we have no choice but to go through them. Whilst juggling all these feelings, keep in mind what we talked about above.
Some notes for you to take away are:
- Do not expect you from others.
- Do allow yourself to face both negative and positive emotions.
- Do not allow these emotions to overstay.
- Your path is very different to mine.
- We all evolve and prosper differently.
- Material things are not the prize, mastering your reflexes and reactions are.
- Always access yourself based on your own experiences and not what others think or say about you to you.
- You are most aware of how you excel and what suits you best.
- Visualise. Act. Result.
- Do not race others, your highest competition should always be yourself.