As we’ve all heard in some form ‘Comparison is a thief of joy’. So why do we compare and become envious? Social media particularly is a catalyst for comparison and reminds me of this quote ‘the reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel’.
I could pretend these thoughts never cross my mind and that I am always ‘happy and supportive of others’. However, pretending that an issue doesn’t exist won’t make it go away – I always keep things real.
My first point of call whenever I identify an issue with my actions, behaviour or attitude is to Google search and find out more! I love researching and reading about personalities, human behaviour and psychology. So I typed in ‘why am I envious’ ‘how to get rid of envy’ and a range of other variations of this search.
There were two key themes which resonated with me:
- Some people are highly competitive and will always be envious of others as they want to do better at absolutely everything. (For example, the individual that turns everything into a competition and can never be happy unless they ‘win’).
- Some people are not so competitive but get envious with specific things that they have tried to achieve but failed to do. (For example, a woman struggling to conceive becomes envious of pregnant friends and relatives).
Now I would love to be in neither of the above categories but I am not, right now I fall into the second category. I don’t like to admit this, but I have to be honest with myself if I want to move forward and grow as an individual. I absolutely love self-improvement (we can touch on that in another post) and overcoming an issue makes me so happy!
I really dislike the feelings associated with envy – envy breeds on our insecurities, our perceived failures and our deepest and darkest thoughts. I love to feel positive, inspired and motivated. Following my google search, I decided to get to the root of the envy.
Personally for me, the green eyed monster cropped up when after numerous attempts of taking the driving test but failing to pass, my cousin passed on his first attempt. I remember a family member pointing out that my cousin started lessons after I did but passed his test before me. I was ashamed and furious with myself, I knew that if my cousin failed his test that wouldn’t make me feel good or get any closer to passing my test, so why couldn’t I be genuinely happy that he’d passed? The reason I couldn’t be genuinely happy is because I hadn’t forgiven myself for failing so many attempts of the test, in addition to this the comment made by my family member led me to feel others were judging the situation and considered me to be a failure.
Beating ourselves up won’t make the feelings go away, but taking the time to reflect openly and honestly with ourselves to get to the bottom of why the envy arises will. When there is a specific area I have worked on tirelessly and haven’t achieved the desired result, seeing others flourish in the exact same area doesn’t automatically send me into a happy dance, even when these people are the friends and family that I love. Fact – no frills around this.
So how can I work on this you ask? I think it all comes down to how we talk to ourselves, how we see ourselves and our overall attitude – I am extremely hard on myself when I don’t reach my goals, and feel like a failure if I even slightly miss the mark.
Therefore, the envy masks underlying issues of self-doubt and my tendency to be overly critical. I set high standards for myself and the inner critic inside me leads to thoughts such as ‘you should have done better’ ‘you are a failure’ ‘someone else would have been able to do this easily’ ‘everyone is laughing at you and sees you as a failure’. Actively working to eradicate these thoughts will help me to prevent envy from manifesting.
Once I am fully secure in myself and don’t berate myself for not achieving something I set out to do, I can move forward. Once I accept that being frustrated about not getting something I’ve aspired for doesn’t make me a loser and that failing at something is ok, I can avoid envy.
For anyone struggling with feeling envious, I would suggest the following steps:
- Step 1 – Admit the fact you experience envy.
- Step 2 – Identify the root cause of the envy.
- Step 3 – Accept that you are not perfect and translate the envy into a positive action – become more driven, motivated and determined.
- Step 4 – Love yourself.