“The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.” – Steven Furtick
Do you scroll through social media wishing you had a perfect life that Instagram Influencer show? Does dealing with the other PTA moms make you wish you had their great bodies? Or desire the ways in which their lives seem easier? What you’re dealing with is the so-called green-eyed monster: envy.
And it can be dangerous to your sense of well-being if not dealt with in a constructive way. So let’s explore how to stop envying others so you can instead focus on loving your own imperfect life.
Learning how to stop being envious begins with one of my favorite tools for loving yourself and your life: awareness. And in order for awareness to really work for you, it’s important to talk about what envy is, how it compares to other not-so-pleasant emotions, and why you may experience envy.
Know, too, that despite a rise in consciousness around thanks to social media, it’s an emotion that has been around for millennia. In fact, it’s one of the so-called Seven Deadly Sins in Christian teachings. And the origin of the phrase goes back to Greco-Roman times – Λύπη (lypē) – that translates into “sadness at another’s good fortune”.
No wonder envy feels icky, right?
What Is The Difference Between Envy And Jealousy?
One of the first things to point out is that though related, envy and jealousy are two different emotions. Envy is when you desire what another person has. This can be about how they look, a talent or personality trait, or a material object they possess. It’s about coveting what that person has and wanting it for your own. Note that this can also be what you perceive the person to have that you find desirable. And wish you possessed.
Envy involves two people. An example maybe you are envious of another PTA Mom. Not only is she beautiful and in great shape, but she’s also funny. And she possesses these crazy-mad people skills. You yearn to get along with folks as easily as she does. Not to mention, you pray for your body to look more like hers. That’s envy.
Jealousy is when you are worried that someone may take what you currently have. It involves three folks. So, you may be envious of how she looks. And how she seems to be able to get along with everyone. But when think she’s getting super-chummy with your best friend, you may be jealous that she’s going to take your best friend for her own. And you’ll be left without a BFF.
While neither emotion feels good to experience, when it comes to awareness it’s important to know the difference.
Why Do Semantics Matter When You Want To Learn How To Stop Being Envious?
Jealousy and envy are often used interchangeably in our culture. You say you’re jealous of how someone looks. Or something another person has. But understanding that envy is about coveting or desiring something another person has and how that differs from the fear you have that you might lose something you already have can be an important distinction.
That’s because semantics can matter when you’re exploring personal growth.
So, if you want to learn how to stop having an emotion that feels rotten, identifying the exact emotion you’re experiencing is critical. It’s important if you want to learn how to stop being envious or jealous. Because dissecting those so-called bad emotions for exactly what they are can be a fabulous tool to getting on the path to loving your own life.
Why Do You Experience Envy?
You experience envy because you’re a human being. It’s so easy to look at the outside lives of others and long for what they have. It’s practically effortless to compare your life to the lives of others folks. You may discover that you assume that the other person is luckier, smarter, or more attractive than you. When you constantly look at the “after” pictures of someone, of course, you have a flicker of feeling as if they are better or more disciplined than you.
Envy’s exasperated thanks to the constant scroll of social media. And how the lives of celebrities and splashed across magazines, newspapers, and the internet. You experience envy, because you, too, have big dreams and desires. And you crave to experience everything life can offer. And others seem to have a handle on. Especially when you perceive that a person is experiencing lots of “good” emotions.
At heart, envy is about wishing you were as happy and satisfied in life as another person seems to be.
And actually, that can be the key on how to stop being envious. Because on the flip side, it can be just the motivation you need to get off the couch and do something about your life, right?
How Can Envy Become Destructive To Your Sense Of Well Being?
Envy – and jealousy – both become destructive when you focus on what you are coveting rather than what you have. It becomes destructive when you realize that, rather than spend time working on making your own life better, you instead, obsess over the life of someone else. It can become a compulsion or obsession to constantly check someone’s social media feed.
Obsession over the life of someone else takes precious time and attention away from tending your own life.
Envy also can lend itself to finding pleasure in another person’s misfortune. And wishing others to fail is certainly a path feeling as if the goodness in the world is something scarce. And hard to obtain.
While envy happens to all of us, the reason it’s listed as one of the seven deadly sins is that it weighs down the soul in such a way that it can feel impossible to find happiness.
So, if you want to know how to stop being envious, you need to understand it’s destructive nature.
You will experience envy at some time in your life. Simply allow yourself to feel that flicker of envy. And then dig into what it really means. And how you can channel it for your own life.
You may be wondering if FOMO (the Fear of Missing Out) is related to envy.
Fear of Missing Out (aka FOMO) is when feeling as if other folks are having awesome and exciting experiences in their lives. And therefore, your life feels lackluster or boring. So, FOMO is related to envy because you, too, want to have those same exciting experiences. You want to travel, go to rock concerts, and eat at fancy restaurants.
Thanks to FOMO, you may also experience jealousy. When you see a post on social media of all your friends at a party or event without you? Of course, you feel jealous and left out. Why weren’t you invited, too? It can make you feel depressed and insecure, too.
This is how FOMO, envy, and jealousy are intertwined.
Here’s What You Really Want To Know: How To Stop Being Envious.
One of the things I’ve learned on the path to curating a life that is loving and nourishing is the understanding that all of our emotions are meant to be felt. When you allow yourself to feel them. And move forward in your own life.
The first key to learning how to stop being envious or experiencing any so-called emotion is to do just that. Stop, identify it, feel it, and then choose not to wallow in it. With practice, this can happen in a matter of minutes. When you have the ability to stop yourself. And not wallow in envy. You stop yourself before you tumble down the rabbit hole of obsessing over what someone else has.
Once you’ve stopped yourself from wallowing and obsessing, next dig into what the root cause of feeling envious was. I like to begin this with compassion and a gentle inquiry.
- What does she have that I want?
- Why do I really want that?
- And what would that give me?
- How would I feel if I had it?
- What ways can I experience that same emotion?
- Where do I have traces of what she has? Present in my life right now?
- How can I work towards getting what it is I want?
Use a mix of curiosity and honesty to discover your answer. Dig into the deeper reasons envy or jealousy may have surfaced. If you’re struggling with that, one of my favorite ways to do this is what I call the “Five Shades of Why”. A way to find both your surface answers. And the deeper ones.
When you get to the truth of what caused the green-eyed monster to surface, you have the key of how to stop being envious.
Once you know why you’re experiencing envy, you can take action from a place of empowerment. And trust me, acting from a place of empowerment trumps reacting out of sheer emotion.
Here’s where you can make magic in your own life. If you want to know how to stop being envious. And use the knowledge as a path to loving your life more. Then you must know this secret way to transform envy into a life you love more:
- Own the truths you discover and acknowledge what you really crave.
- Create a plan to get what you want.
- Take the first baby step towards getting what you desire.
This is effective for everything you may envy. And allows you to use an emotion that feels icky and can be destructive as a force of good in your life.
I want you to notice that I didn’t bring up counting your blessings as how to stop being envious. That’s because despite knowing that gratitude is a great way to love your life more when you’re feeling a rotten emotion like envy, it’s easy to slip into shaming yourself.
Sure, you may know you have a lot of great things in your life. But that doesn’t mean you don’t desire – and deserve – more. Yes, feeling envious is rotten. And your inner critic may try to shame you for falling prey to such a crappy and destructive emotion.
Please don’t do that, my dear. You are simply being human. And none of us can escape that.
If for any reason you find yourself back to coveting or obsessing over any one person, in particular, stop and breathe. Remind yourself that everyone. And I mean everyone. Posts more of the highlights from their lives rather than the crappy middle of trying to get there.
Once you get through the emotional roller-coaster that envy can cause, channel this into loving your own, imperfect life. Because you, my darling, deserve to live a life that is loving, nourishing, and full of all kinds of goodness.
Debra Smouse is a life coach and author who has been published in Time, Huffington Post, MSN, Psychology Today, and more. She knows that the path to loving your life begins with an uncluttered mind. Snag a free workbook with life hacks on how to love YOUR life.
Written by Debra Smouse
Originally appeared in Debra Smouse