“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 shows? 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?