- What happens when you hear that a friend or a colleague, got that promotion, that house or something that you have been eyeing for so long?
- Do you feel envious or jealous of their good fortunes?
- Do you feel angry that life is so unfair, why are they getting this and not me, I deserve it!
It happened recently to me. A friend of mine was sharing her good news with me; I was smiling on the outside, dying on the inside.
What a bad friend I am.
I should be elated for her.
And the truth is that yes, inside of me, I was happy for her. I was thrilled her life was giving her that break she so much deserved and that her hard work was finally paying off.
Yet there was that pinch in my heart, not so much against her, more of that feeling that somehow I would have been left off and my luck had abandoned me.
Where on earth did I pick that up from?
When Envy Leads to Procrastination
We have been taught since the beginning of times that envy is bad. Period. It’s one of the seven deadly sins for the Catholic Church. It is one of the 10 Commandments, “Thou shall not covet.
Can that get any worse? Sure thing it does.
If we dig a tad more, envy and jealousy constitute prime real estate subjects for every true Greek tragedy; Helen wants Paris, Paris wants Helen, and here we have a full-blown Trojan War.
How many Greek heroes were punished for wanting what the Gods had? One thing is certain, we have digested in our collective culture that nothing good can happen if we envy our neighbors’ greener grass.
We can all agree that some forms of jealousy can be particularly toxic.
Moving on to another unhealthy aspect of envy: the feeling of defeat and the subsequent procrastination.
At a time where we are glued to our social media and other cable TV, FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) is more than common. How many times have you swooned over the perfect life of a health coach on Instagram, that body, that job, that house, those kids…
My personal cravings for desserts and bubbly drinks skyrocketed when I started watching the Real Housewives on TV. I wanted their glamorous lives, their couture, their kitchens, and their fake friendships.
Will I ever be able to get that 5,000 sqf mansion, that closet, that bank account, that [fill in the blanks]…likely not given the magnitude of it, so I might as well continue watching them on TV and leave it at that, it will never happen to me, so why bother, I hate my life, I am a loser.. etc etc etc .
That’s defeat, your best foe, talking. And it’s now having a slumber party with its close friend, procrastination.
But my friends, there is a blessing in disguise here.
And Then Envy Becomes a Motivator
Back to the Real Housewives, the only thing I might be missing since giving up cable TV, my excess fantasizing and lifestyle imitation came to an abrupt halt when my body’s very little tolerance to alcohol and sugar, and more importantly, my brain’s reason called me back to my senses.
It’s all glossy on paper, you don’t know what their lives are about.
Message received, no more of that.
But when it comes to someone you know, reason doesn’t seem to be your prime counselor, am I right?
While you know you genuinely want to feel cheerful for your friend and celebrate their success, you can feel your jaw is getting sore by the amount of fake smiling you are putting on,
So what to do now?
Listen to what this jealousy/envy, call it as you wish, has to tell you.
When I started paying attention to what these two BFFs had to say, boy, were they talkative!.
They told me about my longing for something better for me. They showed me the places of dissatisfaction in my life. That pinch in my heart was an ambition waiting to bloom, buried under a mass of excuses.
My envy and jealousy were the shadow sides of my thrive for excellence and mastery.
So I called it my secret desires.
Real inspired desire is not a short-term outburst or an impulse; like those times when we start a project and give up the next day out of boredom, or because we hit one roadblock and we cannot be bothered.
Real desire is that enormous energy that can move mountains.
Because it feeds on own innate knowledge that we long for something better for ourselves, and we know that to do so, there will be a cost.
And sometimes, that cost seems so little compared to the upside, that nothing will stop us from getting what we want. I am thinking here of all the great heroes, famous or not, who gave up some of their comfort in order to accomplish their dreams.
Because the cost of not doing was far greater than the cost of doing. And the upside of accomplishing their dream far outweighed any pain in the neck to get ther
A Guide to Befriending Envy
So what can we do when the Envy strikes again?
1-Take a step back from the emotion
When you start feeling the emotion of wanting what they are having, instead of wanting to scream, cry or lash out because life is so unfair, give yourself a break from the situation and see it as just a collection of facts; example: my colleague just got promoted.
End of the story.
2-Identify your internal screaming/ crying/rage as being your envy ie your secret desire toward an object, a state, or a situation
Do me a favor here, don’t label it as good or bad. Don’t go into feeling ashamed of being jealous of a friend’s good fortune or feeling guilty because you cannot feel happy for them. Just don’t!
Like for step 1, observe that emotion as a fact and a messenger bringing something to your attention, ie a desire you have been hiding from yourself or have been putting on the backburner.
Now that you know what you are secretly longing for, it’s time to take action. You can decide not to do anything about it. Or to go for it, the choice is yours!
And if you are a goals setter, this is a good time to flex those muscles. Articulate what you want and chunk down the various steps to get there.
Desire is where every project starts. And when desire comes from a place of integrity, inspiration flows, ideas take form, action takes place and voila!.
How do you feel when someone gets that promotion, buys that house or meets your ideal partner? Do you feel envy? Do you break away from that person, so that you don’t face your jealousy? What are you willing to do to escape from that pain or, on the contrary, to listen to it?