Taming Envy:How to Love Yourself and Your one Precious Life
Love it or not we have all experienced the crushing feeling of envy. It’s given a bad wrap. Ie. it’s considered a deadly sin and we call it the green-eyed monster, and for good reason: Unchecked it can really hurt and cause us to act in selfish, competitive and malicious ways. But, what is it? Why do we have it? And, can it be a useful thing?
In this article I'll be exploring
The mechanism that gives rise to these feelings,
Give some tips on how to manage them,
Outline ways you can absorb the lessons and get back to loving being the best version of yourself and your one precious life.
I have often been heard commenting to my clients in a clinical setting that I believe jealousy or envy is a rather poor description for a certain type of emotion that rears its head in an individual who feels such intense longing for an outcome in their lives which they feel powerless to realise, but which the universe seems to flaunt on another.
To use some examples, it comes when you are unsuccessful at your third round of IVF in the same year you are needed to support your best friend at her first baby shower. Or, being overlooked for a promotion and another friendly teammate being recognised. Or perhaps when your partner who you feel ignores your gifts congratulates one of their attractive single friends for their accolades in your presence. In many cases the individual wants to be happy for the object of their envy or jealousy but is so wrapped with painful desire at their own unrealised potentials and unmet emotional needs. Envy is a signal that you feel blocked, and that your social status has been threatened.
Firstly, In order to understand how to overcome envy you may need to understand the mechanism that gives rise to it. Envy, put simply, is an old survival mechanism. Everybody wants to be at the front of the evolutionary pack. There are a great deal of advantages to being considered the front of the evolutionary pack, for example landing the healthiest mate, getting the best paying job, being respected by your peers, and having authority over other individuals. Our evolving brains considered this advantage so material that our present day nervous systems are constantly at work behind the scenes attempting to detect a few things: food, mates and any threats to our survival. Whenever we perceive one of these, our nervous system automatically pays attention and sends the appropriate signals to our body whether we should pursue the advantage or protect ourselves from a threat. In other words, we are very consumed, even on an unconscious level, of securing the highest social status and level of abundance that we can obtain. This mechanism has been with us since the dawn of time and has driven us to become the most dominant species of the planet, however, there is a potential to fall into a lot of meaningless obsession with superfluous goals and to hyperfocus on things which have very little to do with our actual happiness. Once our survival mechanism is triggered we will visualise any competitive rival as a threat to our survival and do whatever we can to protect our social status, in some cases in unhealthy ways. We need to tame this normal triggering response because acting from a place of fear and lack never really leads to happiness, pursuing the things that we want out of love and meeting ourselves in the depths of a perceived failure with compassion, however have been proven in academic studies by Kristen Neff to be two key ways to live a truly happy and meaningful life. Ultimately the ego which is consumed with pack status has a ravenous appetite, too. If we do adapt to a higher level of abundance or status we will acclimate within 18 months.
According to A 1978 study by Brickman, Coates and Banoff-Bulman of Northwestern University and the University of Massachusetts, findings suggest that a person will find themself back at “square one” from a happiness perspective within a year and a half, whether they have suffered an accident resulting in paralysis or won the lottery.
We allow our expectation to rise or fall in equal measure to our quality of life, so really this increase in expectation is a lifelong pursuit. Sometimes you will be ahead and sometimes you will be behind, but the survival brain is always looking to obtain more. This feels like a genuine threat, but actually has very little to do with actual life or death. It's a natural human need to thrive, but one needs to learn to tempur excess fear, gluttony and insecurity to calmly and joyfully live in the moment and appreciate what they do have, or they will never be happier with more.
Here are some hints you might be Envious:
You are feeling Inferior
You feeling frustrated
You are feeling angry at people with the results you crave
You want to avoid scenarios in which you may be forced to talk about yourself
You feel as though people who are getting what you want are undeserving of their success
You are considering harming others or sabotaging their opportunity. (This is a red flag, please seek professional help immediately)
Here are some techniques to work with and dispel envy.
Let your body know that you are SAFE.
There are a few ways to diffuse stress
Visualise yourself overcoming a competitive rival while boxing or outrunning them while you run to convey to your unconscious mind that you have dealt with the threat and it can go back to rest and digest. So easy, but it actually helps our stone age brain.
EFT Tapping is a great way to relax the nervous system you can find heaps of tutorials on YouTube or purchase The Tapping Solution
Breathe in for 4 counts
Hold for 7 counts
Exhale for 8 counts
Repeat 5 times.
Realise that you are Comparing Yourself, and Stop It.
All this unhappiness is coming from comparison, based on limited information. Remember that if there is another individual in question, they have had a life of mixed experience and challenge and when you go into a stress response you obtain something called a negativity bias, that means you discount all the positives about yourself and your life and hyperfocus on potential problems.
Exercise: Journal Prompts.
What are some of the positives about myself and my life that I am presently discounting?
Is this comparison accurate?
Is this comparison useful?
What lesson can I absorb from this negative feeling so I can let it go? (Maybe it’s a motivation etc.).
What do I have that is similar?
Remember: The Light you See in Others is a Reflection of your Own Light.
It is a well known psychological phenomenon that we unconsciously project our own qualities onto other people (likewise our darkness.) Even if you feel that your light has gone out, remember that no phase or feeling is final, but the quicker you drop comparison, believe in yourself, calm your insecurities and make an action plan for your own success the sooner your light will come back on. Stay in your own lane and get to work on your own life, knowing sometimes you’re ahead and sometimes you're behind.
Drop the Victim Mentality.
Ok, so I also don’t like to use the phrase “victim mentality” as it shames a person who ultimately feels powerless to effect change, but ultimately the problem IS that you feel powerless. The common internal dialogue can be something like “this always happens to me” a pretty heart wrenching statement. You need to shift your perspective away from helpless, hopeless apathy because you will never take initiative to attempt better outcomes for your life if you believe the fates convene to block your every best effort. It empowers you to believe that there are plenty of other opportunities for fulfillment you just haven’t executed successfully, yet, and if you believe you are strong and well resourced you will maximise your efforts then in turn realise the most from your potential. If you are open to perceiving that you are responsible for your challenges (not in a shame spiral kind of way, but in a cause and effect kind of way) you can learn, adapt and improve your results. Believe in yourself.
As shown above, we wont act to realise goals if we don't believe in our potential, and we wont get good results if we don't act on our potential, and if we don't get good results we reinforce low belief in our potential. The lesson? BELIEVE IN YOURSELF.
Exercise: Journaling Prompt.
What do you want? (Ie House)
Why do you REALLY want it, as in what will you have once you get the object of your desire? (Ie. respect, security, my father’s pride, etc.)
Why do you believe you can’t have that?
Instead of asking: "why can't I have that?" ask "how else can I obtain what I really need?"
How have I been going about meeting these needs for myself, thus far?
How is that working?
If I am serious about being the version of myself that I really want to be and getting the results I want, what else might I be doing?
How do I answer this call?
Am I making myself miserable with this aspiration? What can I do to lighten up?”
Remind Yourself that this is an Ego Response.
Your ego, not your soul, protects the needs of your physical body. When you are coming from your soul you drop the limited perspective of timing, comparison, competition and fear. Your soul wants you to just be happy and say a full body yes to life at every opportunity.
Exercise. Journal prompt.
What does my soul and higher self want me to know (/remember) about this whole challenge?
How can I use this whole experience to better myself and give back to humanity?
What do I have in my life presently that I can celebrate with gratitude?
How do I live a life driven more strongly by love than fear, starting now?
Mute, Unsubscribe Unfollow for a While
So, you’ve found valuable inspiration and hopefully a soul calling,you really don’t need to be bombarded with constant messages which you can’t help feeling inadequate around, for now. Whether this is a moderate acquaintance, close friend or someone you see on social media, switch off for a while to be more grateful for your everyday wins and focus on building your own assets, without the ongoing stress of comparison. If this person is a close friend be aware they may feel deeply wounded that you have been pulling away, so consider mitigating this or discussing your own feelings of lack playing a part in relationship strain (9/10 times they will begin to tell you that they feel like a fraud, or it’s not as easy as it seems or they admire something about you, actually.) When you do re-engage, be grateful, for this person lit a fire under you and empowered you. Remember we project our own qualities on other people in our world, the good and bad.
Seek Therapeutic Help.
I found Kinesiology to be the best outlet for my own feelings of anxiety because of it’s Holistic approach. The unique combination of stress relief, coaching tools, energy balancing, NLP and talk therapy (plus more) mean it packs a punch. I found it so impactful in my own life I studied and became a Kinesiologist. Therapies can help get you back to your best alot faster. You can book Kinesiology here.
About The Author
Erin first obtained her Cert. IV in Kinesiology in 2012, and went on to study Total Body Modification from the United States, Kinergetics and Vibrational Essences. Erin's drive to reach her personal best and empower her clients by being a top Practitioner also saw her complete her Diploma of Kinesiology in 2015. Erin believes that her practice is a continuously evolving, Incorporating studies in Women's Circle Facilitation, and An Introduction to CBT, NLP, Art Therapy, Hypnosis and she has no plans on stopping there.
"I am really motivated by helping people access the deeply held inner guidance that will allow them to heal and blossom into their best selves. The best feeling you can have as a practitioner is getting goosebumps when you finally get to witness a client having that moment of clarity that will change them forever."
- Erin Ricketts