According to a study, 75% of people experience envy. Chances are you have felt jealous of someone else or been the target of envy at some point.
Browsing through Instagram and feeling bad about yourself and your life while looking at someone else’s highlight reel on the socials.
Envy is bad on both sides of the stick. It feels bad to feel envious of someone and it feels just as bad to be envied by others. So why do we get jealous?
We usually experience envy to be a very negative emotion that creates a strong reaction in your body. The problem is, envy is something we keep to ourselves because nobody wants to admit feeling negatively about somebody else and be the jealous bitch.
So here’s a quick run down on the good and the bad about envy (yes, envy can be good!) and how to cope with your emotions and reframe it so you can use it to your advantage.
What is Envy, Really?
Envy comes in many flavours, for example:
- Feeling less fortunate (= victim mentality)
- Thinking you deserve it more/others don’t (= entitlement)
- Downplaying others’ success ( = lack of confidence, feeling not good enough)
Common thoughts of envy:
- Why me?
- Why not me?
- Why can’t I have that?
- That lucky bitch.
- Must be nice to have…
- This is unfair.
- If I had that…
- I deserved this more.
Envy is Poison to Your Thoughts
I have people in my life who I noticed always resented when other people had ‘more’ than they had. They started ranting, making assumptions how they must have used treason and cheating to get it, that they had connections, were lucky etc.
Or that others did not deserve it and they deserved it more.
Guess what, they do it to this day and they are still broke, negative, bitter and entitled.
Feeling envy is a deeply negative emotion that you (literally) feel in your guts. It can feel like a punch in the stomach.
Envy is just one way on focusing on the negative instead of the positive.
And that’s exactly what you attract.
Envy is Infectous
I have been the subject of envy, too.
It came to the point that I stopped talking about my achievements altogether. I highlighted my problems and negative things in my life just to shut them up. It was all to make them feel better, to protect myself from their negativity and resentment but it did always feel a creepy little feeling of “Maybe they’re right.”
Envy is infectious.
I hated being the object of envy. Especially, because things look different on the inside. People don’t see the hard work you have put in, the blood, sweat and tears. And even if it was luck, why not be happy for someone else?
It came to the point that I developed a sort of superstition that what others would envy me for would be flawed or poisoned and would leave me soon. Other people’s envy felt like a curse – that things would go wrong eventually.
It went so far that I felt really bad for everything good in my life and stopped enjoying what I had.
It made me believe that maybe indeed I did not deserve it. And in consequence, I pushed money and success away.
It really is a slippery slope.
But here’s the truth: Envy is someone else’s problem. What others think of you is not your business. You cannot change what other do, think and believe. You can only control what you think, believe and do and how you react to negativity.
First of all: If people envy you – congrats!
“Pity is free, envy has to be earned.”
Remember: People never get jealous of losers. When you’re the object of envy, you’re probably doing something right.
And: it is their problem, not yours.
You can feel great about what you have and what you have achieved. Don’t let others negativity affect your joy. God knows you have worked for it. Right?
Envy is Manifested Scarcity
Envy is a very sneaky because it can be a sign that, for some reason, you think you don’t have enough or are not enough.
- You feel inadequate
- You feel entitled
- You want it yourself so badly
- You feel others having something makes you have less
Ultimately, envy is a feeling of scarcity. Scarcity means ‘not-enoughness’.
It means that because someone else has more, you have less. Or you don’t feel like you can have it because you don’t feel good enough for any reason: not smart enough, not pretty enough, not educated enough etc.
Envy is counting other people’s blessings instead of your own.
You are scared there is not enough out there for you. And believing that you cannot have something because of XYZ is victim mentality, meaning you think that your life happens to you and you can’t do anything about it.
But you can. Because scarcity is not something that exists, it is something that only exists in your mind, so ultimately, it is a mindset problem.
When you start feeling envy, here’s what you can do:
- Shift your thinking/mindset
- Use it to your advantage as motivation
- Look closer, it might not be as shiny on the inside
Envy as Goal Fuel
You can completely reframe envy and see it as an indicator for the things you want. It points out what your desires are. Envy is, in some way, a very honest feeling.
Knowing what you want is gold. Getting clarity on your goals and dreams is the first step to achieve anything.
If you feel envy towards someone, take advantage of it, see it as a motivator.
Seeing someone leading the life you want should fire you up! It shows you where you want to go and that it is possible for you, too!
If you feel it, you can have it.
Be Happy for Others
It is essential not to resent other people who have what you want, for two major reasons:
- In order to receive good things, you must be able to feel good about receiving. Not just for yourself, but also others.
- You can never have what you hate.
“Remember that you cannot be that which you resent. If you have animosity towards rich people, your subconscious mind will make sure that you never become rich.” – T. Harv Eker
It is very important to develop the skill of being genuinely happy for others and celebrating their success. It puts you in a mindset of possbíblity and receiving. You will be motivated to learn and take the right steps towards your goals instead of dwelling in self-pity of “Why (not) me”.
Use that energy and turn it into a positive spiral of thoughts like:
- I wanna do what they do
- How can I get there?
- What do I need to do to get there?
- I love how she did this! I can, too!
Notice how the energy is different already?
Use others as role models. Never resent other people for having something you think you don’t.
Look Behind the Shiny Curtain
If you envy somebody driving a Ferrari, wearing the newest It-bag or posting Insta pix from dream vacations, look closer. More often than not, people look rich… but aren’t. Look beyond the glamorous smoke and mirrors, especially on social media. Social media is a highlight reel of people’s lives. It is ‘reel’ life, not real life.
The grass always seems greener on the other side.
But remember: Symbols of wealth don’t always equal actual wealth. Most of these peeps are broke or go broke surrounding themselves with status symbols.
Stop counting other people’s money. – Betty Draper (Mad Men)
On the other hand: You never know what other people’s real circumstances are. Maybe they had a really rough patch in their life and now something good happens to them.
Everybody carries around their little package, you can’t look inside people’s heads. You never know the whole story. Be mindful of resenting people for having something you feel you don’t. You never know what is really going on on the inside.
It is not for us to decide whether someone deserves something or not. We all deserve good in our lives. We are all equally worthy.
I always try to feel genuinely happy for others and express my joy for them openly.
Avoid Materialistic People
You become who you spend most time with. Surrounding yourself with people whose life circles around where and what to shop, where to be seen and with whom. This triggers the comparison game eventually.
I was on a trip once with a few fashion fanatics who spent the entire morning putting their instagrammable outfits together, traveling half the city to some hip location just to take a Insta-perfect image. And while I thought this was totally ridiculous, it did leave me with a feeling of inadequacy. Maybe I just wasn’t one of the ‘cool girls’ because I did not enjoy this. But their lives looked so much better than mine, and they looked so much better on photos. And although I have seen the reality and the behind the scenes, it have let myself believe that their ‘influencer’ lives were better than mine. I have been influenced, in the wrong way.
No matter how much you have – you will feel bad around people who have more than you – eventually. We as humans are social animals and we will always compare ourselves to others because we are designed to see status as power. It is in our DNA.
You will experience envy, but don’t let it eat you up on the inside.
There will always be someone who is richer, thinner, prettier. Sometimes spending time with people who are all about the shiny things and fancy trips can give you the idea that you should want these things, too. You don’t know you want it until you see it.
Be careful who you spend time with and who you follow. And don’t let others definition of ‘a good life’ affect you. It is easy to be drawn into this world of shiny objects.
Comparing yourself to others, you are losing only 100% of the time.
Focus less on material things but on the things in life that truly matter to you.
I have learned ways to deal with envy and I don’t let it affect me. It doesn’t mean I don’t experience it. I have learned to notice it and transform it into something that motivates me. I don’t badmouth other people and what they have. When I’m around people who do, I don’t participate in the conversation.
Comparison always steals your happiness.
Here’s what you can do:
- Count your blessings.
- Be grateful.
- Be mindful that others might dream of what you have.
- Remember that there is enough for everyone, also for you.
- Shift your mindset to more abundance.
- Focus on what is important to you and what you can control.
- Stop comparing yourself to others.
- Nothing is as it seems.
- Ask yourself how you can achieve what others have.
Have you experienced envy? How does it make you feel?
Read more on that topic:
10 Reasons Why You are Broke (and How to Fix It)
11 Non-obvious Money Mistakes You Are Making
Good Debt, Bad Debt: How to Stop the Negativity Around Money