How to turn envy into a positive force
Envy. You can admit it. It’s cool, we’ve all felt envious of others’ success at some point in our lives, even of our friends. Sometimes even more so of our friends.
As much as we’d like to think we’re above it, that we’re not that kind of person…truth is, yes, we are.
Somewhere inside we all get that voice sometimes saying ‘I wish that was me’. Or ‘That should be me’ / ‘What about me?’.
Truth is we’ve all had moments when we sucked at being happy for others and their successes, when we felt threatened by it.
You want to be the lucky one, the successful one, or the one getting the attention.
And then when you catch yourself, you might beat yourself up for being such an awful and despicable living thing. You might tell yourself to stop being stupid. You push the envy and jealousy down, ignore it, suppress it, pretend it’s not there…that dirty, abhorrent, shameful thing of a feeling.
So you pretend it’s all good. But frustration and resentment build up. Bitterness. Self-pity. Lack of motivation. Whatever fortune that other person is blessed with made you feel inferior, and you most definitely don’t like it.
I’m guilty of it too. There have been times I felt like I wasn’t genuinely fully happy for some people who were doing well.
I’ve felt envy of those who’ve seemed to easily build a successful business in a short time, or of those fortunate to have bought their dream home.
I felt this envy and jealousy especially if I didn’t think too highly of them on a personal or professional level. Maybe I thought they weren’t genuine and were just after the money. Or that they weren’t friendly enough, or even smart or good enough at what they do. I do it better. They just got lucky, or had great connections.
But I also realised that if I let envy poison me this way, I’d end up bitter and miserable. I’d fall right into having a victim mentality.
Most importantly, I understood that feeling envy distracts me from the one and only thing I really need to be focused on:
my own work.
So if you want to feel more satisfaction along your own path and not be distracted by what others are doing or having, it would be a good idea to let jealousy and envy go.
But how…? HOW do I get rid of that shit?
Holding onto envy comes out of ideas that are simply not true, so it helps to start by recognising these false, limiting subconscious beliefs.
1. If you hold onto the envy or jealousy, this will help you to get the object you’re after or be better off than the person you envy.
Is that really true?
Of course not.
Holding onto jealousy and envy doesn’t help you achieve anything. The only thing you do get more of is your own frustration. Feelings of inferiority, of not being good enough.
So you suppress it. After all, these don’t feel good. So you tuck it away.
So now, subconsciously you’re resenting your goals ‘cuz it made you feel like shit. This makes you feel even less motivated or energised.
The result? You’re now even much less likely to get what you want.
2. You should be following the rules of what and how you ‘should’ be achieving, sticking to the deadlines.
I’m almost 39, going on 29. I’m still renting, got no long-term partner, no kids. Shocking! I even still go to parties and festivals; dancing by the left speaker and making random connections and friends reminds me why I’m alive.
If I were to judge myself according to the standards created and set by someone I don’t know, never met and who I’ve no idea whether were truly and genuinely happy, then I’m probably way behind.
It’s hard not to look at others, especially these days when everyone partakes in the social media circus. People parading their 6-figure businesses, homes, holidays, glam lifestyles, lovers, fit bodies… it’s easy to fall into that trap.
But would you be feeling envy or jealousy at all were you not conditioned to believe you SHOULD be achieving X, Y and Z by certain points in your life? Social rules, the media and your own comparison to others keep telling you whether you’re a success or not.
But ask yourself, is this really true? And what exactly is success to YOU?
Will you be content leaving this world behind once you’ve built that lucrative business or paid for that ridiculously over-priced house or got the recognition you think you deserve?
Do you really think that on your last breath you’d be thinking to yourself ‘Oh, I’m so glad I got on that property ladder…it’s been so rewarding, I can go in peace now’?
You should also remember that social media is NO REFLECTION of reality. It’s a tool for people to show what they choose to show.
There’s so much more going on behind those perfect Instagram shots or the endless enviable posts on your fb feed, or maybe you’re bombarded like me by fb with videos from those successful ones telling you how they moved from sleeping in their parents’ basement to making 20k a month, promising to do the same for you.
Work, effort, frustrations, setbacks and failures, fears, personal challenges and doubts have been filtered out of what you see while feeling envy thinking ‘I wish that was me’.
Remember also that success shows up in different ways and at different times for different people. There are no rules, and in the end there will be no clipboard-holding success-god walking around giving you points after you die.
It’s completely up to YOU to define what success is – and by that I mean – EXPERIENCING what is most important and truly VALUABLE to you in life.
3. There’s not enough for everyone.
You believe in that whatever it is you’d like to have is of limited nature.
There aren’t enough customers interested in what you’ve got to offer. There aren’t enough opportunities. There’s not enough money to go round. Not enough success points for everyone, only the select few. So you feel like you’re in competition to get those things, and any win for the other is a loss for you.
But is that true?
You might be closed up in some kind of echo-chamber or bubble in your work-related field, watching the big players do their thing, while forgetting that the potential clients who are looking for those products or services are everywhere, not in that bubble.
They’re always looking for what you want to offer.
You could become the next big player. I mean, do you really believe that no one else will ever appear on the scene? So why can’t it be you?
Truth is – there’s enough. In fact, there’s plenty for all of us. More than plenty. There are people out there right this second wishing they’d have the product, skills or support you want to provide.
If only they knew you were around.
In fact, the more success others experience in your field, the more it should indicate to you there’s an abundance of people out there who are still looking for that type of goods or results you’re offering.
It’s true, maybe they had a better starting point, better opportunities, better luck or better whatever. Nevertheless, whatever objectives you have, you can see is attainable. So maybe, instead of choosing to feel envy or jealous, you could even choose to learn something from them.
So remember that someone else’s success has nothing to do with your own. If anything, you can use their success to inspire and motivate yourself. Hell, you could even find a place in your heart to be thankful for them showing you this and what’s possible.
Feeling envious and resenting someone else’s success means resenting ALL success. And that includes your own. You push it away from you in this way. Your bitterness won’t get you far.
4. You deserve success, probably more than them.
So you think it should be you the successful one. You in the limelight. It should be you winning out there, not them.
Maybe you consciously think you could do a better job, offer a better product or service, or that you’re a nicer, more compassionate, giving or generally awesome person (let’s face it, some mega-successful people out there just make you wonder sometimes…).
You think some people are less deserving than you.
But is this based on anything true?
More importantly – do you truly believe that YOU deserve?
This sense of entitlement is just another paradox of the mind.
In fact, envy means you’re feeling inferior and insecure in some way, that’s why it’s an uncomfortable feeling.
You’re subconsciously telling yourself that success happens to others, not to you. I mean, that’s why you’re feeling envy, right? So you’re actually telling yourself success is for others. You’re not worthy enough of it.
Subconsciously you’re really feeling like YOU don’t deserve, that’s why you resent those who have what you want.
When you hear that voice in the back of your mind telling you you’re not good enough or don’t deserve, it’s too distressing to recognise you’re speaking to yourself. So to avoid that painful and embarrassing thought, you mistakenly project it onto the other person instead. You tell yourself ‘Why them, they don’t deserve it – I do’.
If you truly felt you were good or worthy enough, you’d have absolutely no problem with anyone else around you enjoying their own victories. You’d be confident in yourself, you’d know your value, and you wouldn’t be threatened by someone else’s success. You’d be inspired by it.
So remember, that voice of envy is simply trying to bring your attention to the fact you might want to look at some beliefs you hold about yourself. It’s trying to remind you it would be a good idea to work on improving your own self-worth.
5. You’re a terrible person for feeling envy.
Ok, so we’ve established jealousy and envy aren’t the ideal way of handling seeing others’ people’s success.
But beating yourself up for feeling it, or adding onto it feelings of self-anger, shame or guilt only makes it worse. You find it ugly, so you push it even further down yourself to not have to look at it or its unpleasant hideousness.
It makes things worse, not only because you’re now experiencing all those shitty feelings on top of it, but also because by doing this, you’re making a subconscious association between your goals and these very unattractive feelings.
So do you think you’ll then be pushing towards or away from your goals?
Feeling jealousy or envy is not a problem. It’s the holding onto them that’s an issue.
So instead, recognise that feeling envy or jealousy doesn’t mean you’re a crappy person. It only means you’ve misunderstood them and their purpose.
It’s an opportunity to remind yourself of these false beliefs.
Acknowledging envy when it comes up, you can transform how you respond to it. You could reframe it so that it gives you inspiration. You could see it as something to be thankful for.
Instead of saying to yourself ‘I wish it was me’, you could say ‘I’d love to achieve or experience that. I wonder how I can do that’.
You could even stretch it to ‘Thank you for reminding me the potential is out there’.
So… let’s recap.
Envy and jealousy sell you false ideas while at the same time they’ve actually got more positive, valuable intentions behind them (as all behaviours in fact do. Your mind really IS your friend and ally, even if you often feel like you’re just not meant to get along!).
Success isn’t limited to certain ways, deadlines or people. Forget what you see on social media or what you think is expected of you.
Compare yourself to no one. In the end you only have to live with yourself.
Re- focus on what’s really important: your own work; your purpose and your service.
Success isn’t limited in amount. There’s plenty to go round.
Blessing that which you want and those who have it instead of condemning them, means you’re open to welcoming and receiving rather than resisting that very same blessing.
It’s OK to feel envy. The problem begins when you hold onto it instead of letting it go, pushing it down yourself not wanting to look at what it’s actually trying to tell you. This isn’t gonna get you anywhere.
Instead, recognise why jealousy and envy are there. They simply want to remind you of some things you might need to pay attention to.
Practicing bringing up genuine happy or even thankful feelings for someone else’s fortunes or for those who’ve got what you’d like to have benefits you too.
Not only does feeling happy for someone else make you happier (simple math really – more happy feelings, no matter where you direct them, means more happy feelings), but you also create more and stronger subconscious associations between your goals and positive thoughts and feelings rather than toxic ones.
This means you’ll be feeling more motivated, energised, empowered and excited about taking your own action.
So why not go out there now, and instead of jealousy, start by appreciating, celebrating and blessing all that you want and all that others have.
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I’d also love to hear from you. In what ways have you found feeling envy or jealousy has held you back? Feel free to post your thoughts and comments below.