I used to envy other people’s success - their skills, their accomplishments, their car or vacation home, their income - you name it, I could envy it. When envious, I would often convert the feeling into a criticism of either the successful person or of me. If I criticized the successful person, I might say something like, "That person’s book/presentation/speech (insert object of my envy) really isn’t very good." Or, I’d turn my envy inward with a judgment such as "Poor little me, I could never do what they do! Not in a million years could I promote/sell/be confident (insert quality that I envied) like that!" Ouch! It’s embarrassing to confess my inner dialogue - it sounds mean and petty. Let me assure you that it didn’t make me feel happy to have those reactions.
One reason that envy that turns into criticism, either external or internal, is the critic lacks self-worth. Self-worth is a challenge for me, as you’ve probably surmised if you’ve been reading my posts (see the one on Self-Love here). I suspect that many of us have similar issues with feelings of unworthiness or of not being good enough. I had a breakthrough about a week ago by digging deep into that feeling of unworthiness and letting it go.
The universe is large and commodious; there is room for each of us to be successful and accomplish our heart’s desire. Success is not a zero-sum game: your success does not preclude my success or vice versa. Indeed, your success is a demonstration of how I might be successful. The realization of the abundance of the universe has helped me deal more constructively with envy.
Here’s what I do now when I feel envy boiling up inside of me:
1. The most important step, as with any emotion, is to be aware and catch it as soon as I starting feeling it. This quick intervention prevents the emotion from gaining a strong hold on my brain and heart.
2. I remind myself that there is room in the universe for both my and the other person’s accomplishments. I remember that just because the other person has done something I might want to do, there is nothing holding me back from doing it my way. In fact, my way may be more meaningful to some people than the other person’s way.
3. I bless the other person with a mental "Way to go!" I figure that by cheering for the other person, I send them positive energy or love which is likely to come back to me.
4. Lastly, I give thanks for the example they have set for me. I might say to myself, "Wow, I’m so grateful that other person was able to achieve that. Perhaps I, too, can learn how."
Envy is a good indicator of inner unhappiness. Be aware of and inspect what you envy so you can clarify your own desires. Then proceed through the four steps to transform your envy into blessings and gratitude. You’ll feel so much better when you do!