Sunday, October 13, 2013


Ah, the green glow of envy that clings desperately to our heels, and manifests often in the most unexpected of ways. Envy knows no rest, as we find ourselves surrounded each day by those we feel to be better equipped, better looking...or just simply better! So, how do we find relief from its crushing grasp?

Envy is a state of desiring something that someone else possesses. It’s a vicious emotion that can crush self-esteem, inspire efforts to undermine others’ successes, or even cause people to lash out violently. It also just feels horrible. So what can we do to disarm the green-eyed monster when it strikes?

Try one or more of the following suggestions ...

1 - Acknowledge Envy. Admitting that we are experiencing envy can be very threatening, because it means acknowledging our own weakness and insecurity.

2 - Recognize that Pride is the flip-side of Envy. Instead of responding to the pain of envy with efforts to bolster your self-esteem, try self-compassion instead. Acknowledge that it is hard to see someone do well when you’re floundering, and remind yourself that you are very much not alone in your feelings of inadequacy. Even the most successful people suffer from self-doubt at times. Being imperfect is synonymous with being human.

3 - Replace Envy with Compassion. Although envy seems almost like a compliment, it can be quite dehumanizing. It reduces the object of envy to something very narrow and masks the full picture of who they are and what their life is like. Appreciating a person in their fullness can also help us feel genuinely happy for their successes, a form of positive support called “capitalization,” that has been shown to promote relationship well-being.

4 - Let Envy fuel Self-Improvement -- when appropriate. When our envy is rooted in things we cannot change about ourselves, such as a difficult childhood, a traumatic event, or certain health conditions and disabilities, using envy to motivate self-improvement is more likely to dig us deeper into frustration and self-blame. But sometimes envy alerts us to things that we want in life that are potentially attainable, if we’re willing to make certain changes. "Upward social comparison" can be a source not only of motivation but also of useful information.

5 - Don’t forget to count your own Blessings. As the saying goes, envy is counting the other fellow’s blessings instead of your own.

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