Ugh, I know. Logically and intellectually you know, you shouldn’t compare yourself to others. But emotionally, you can’t help but feel some type of way, when you scroll through your social media feed or when someone gets that six pack, a hot boyfriend, goes to the Maldives or wins the lottery.
I have good news and great news for you.
Good news: It’s not jealousy. It’s envy. Here’s the definition (shout out to Google): “Envy is the pain caused by the fortune of others”.
Great news: Envy doesn’t have to be a bad thing, it can be really good if you know how to turn it into your advantage.
Accept that you’re an envious mf
We can’t do this, if you’re in denial, sister. So say it with me: “I’m an envious b*tch, you’re an envious b*tch, we’re all envious b*tches”. Maybe put it on a T-shirt.
Next, let’s agree that it’s completely normal to compare yourself to others. Looking at others make us reflect about ourselves and our own success.
Stop suppressing your emotions
I’d absolutely love to go with you to your therapist’s office and ask if it’s healthy to supress feelings.
Without a pHd in literally anything I think it’s safe to say: it’s not.
Exception to the rule: Unless you want to choke someone to death with your iPhone-charger. Maybe suppress that emotion. Start playing an instrument. Or do yoga.
Growing up f’ed us up
Since you wore a diaper, your parents and teachers taught you that the road to be loved and liked is by sharing, loving others unconditionally and be positive. No wonder, you don’t want to identify with being negative, jealous, envious or sad as an adult.
You will not find a book that says:
“And then Jesus, Muhammed and Buddha got really envious, but that’s okay, because it’s normal and they lived happily ever after anyway”.
Seriously, thank you adults for teaching us how to be good to people. But while we’re being good to others, can we agree that we still qualify as “good enough” when we are being ourselves and feeling all types of emotions? That would be lit, fam.
Enough with the talking, how do I get rid of it
I read a book the other day – shocking, I know – that said:
“Suffering is biologically useful. It’s the dissatisfied creature that is going to improve themselves”.
I was like: AHA. Let’s explore that.
If something or someone triggers a little annoyance in you, use it to find out what you want. I usually take envy as a sign that there are some areas in my life that needs a little more attention.
3 important things to remember
- Just because someone is shining, it doesn’t take anything away from you. The sun can literally shine at all of us at the same time. That’s pretty cool.
- If someone got promoted and you didn’t, that person didn’t take anything away from you, because it was never yours to begin with.
- If someone wins a marathon or gets a six pack, that doesn’t mean that you can never do any of those things. If someone has 9 million followers or wins an Oscar, it doesn’t mean that you can’t have 9 million followers or win an Oscar, if that’s your goal.
It’s GOOD to care
When someone tells me that he/she neeeeever envied anyone or eeever felt jealous, this is my thought process:
- Are you lying to me?
- Are you suppressing your feelings?
- Are you just not very passionate about what you do or have you ever been passionate about anything?
I know it sounds a little harsh, but imagine working really hard for something:
Let’s say you’re a sprinter and you’re going to the Olympics (casual, I know). You train so hard, every single day, your whole life evolves around it, early mornings, late nights, injuries, recovery, gym, working out, blood, sweat and all the tears.
And then you come in 2nd. Sure, that’s a great result, but isn’t it understandable that you’d feel some type of way for not winning?
It’s a good sign that you care! Imagine the opposite:
Being madly in love with a guy. Then he starts dating another girl. If you didn’t care at all, I’m guessing you weren’t that into him in the first place.
Identify what you want
Think of someone you envy. You want what he/she has. Let’s say a beautiful fit body. A classic.
It’s important to find out if the envy is coming from a place of lack of self worth like:
“I am not good enough as I am. I want a six pack so people would accept me and love me more”.
Or if it’s coming from a place of wanting to improve and do better because it excites you:
“I know that I am good enough, but I also know that I would enjoy pushing my limits, live healthier and I would have so much fun working out more”.
Spoiler: You can’t have their lives
Not two paths are the same. That’s the beauty of life, isn’t it.
Some people are born with certain body types. Some people are born into rich families. Maybe that’s you. I was extremely f*cking priviliged growing up in a society that offered free health care, free education, two parents that worked, travelled in all holidays, had a roof over my head and lots of love and support. It’s important to stop ignoring privilige.
Maybe you weren’t priviliged. And you shouldn’t feel less because you weren’t born with these things, okay.
Allow me to dig a little deeper for a second.
Unpopular opinion: We don’t have equal opportunities
I cannot stand when people talk about The American Dream as something that anyone can have if they just: “work hard enough”. That’s such a bullsh*t priviliged thing to say that makes me want to cut my ears off.
How dare you say that a child living in poverty with abusive, drug-addict parents who can’t afford tuition, who lives in a small racist town somwhere has “equal opportunites” as a child growing up with loving, rich, healthy and educated parents in a safe home. Honestly, I’m sorry, but f*ck you for saying that. Not buying it.
If you’re not privilliged you shouldn’t feel less. You’re not responsible for where you were born, the color of your skin, your parents or their financial situation.
But we’re here, and let’s work with what we have!
Maybe you can’t have a million dollar house by tomorrow, but maybe you can redecorate your room!
Maybe you can’t travel as much as your single friend who doesn’t have kids. But you don’t have to give up your full-time job, move to Bali and become a hashtag influencer to travel. Maybe you can go and take a weekend off with your loved ones. Explore your home city. Or go somewhere alone for the day!
(Psst, read this blog post about why you should solo travel! )
Turn it into a plan
Please remember to be kind and celebrate other people’s successes. Imagine being that friend that can’t celebrate others. It’s not cute.
Use others as inspiration! Because listen:
With most things in life, it’s so hard to become what we don’t see.
Whoever is living your dream, is a real life example that what you want to achieve is possible! Yay!
And there are probably hundreds or thousands or people out there doing exactly that right now.
If you want to be a professional dancer it’s not the same as wanting to build a space ship made out of spaghetti and fly to Jupiter. In reality there are thousands of people out there that made a career out of dance. It’s a job. Actually a pretty normal job.
So when the envy kicks in, try to say: ok, cool that means that I can do it too! Study them and how they got to where they are. Or even better, talk to them! It’s rare that people won’t share their journey.
Use the information to figure out where you’re slacking and where you should put in more effort.
Now that you have an idea of what it takes ask yourself if you’re willing to actually do what it takes. A long time ago I thought being crazy skinny was the road to being happy for me. I tried it out, and I must say it’s an absolute no-go for me. I am not willing to put in what it takes to look like that. Mentally or physically. So I am going for strong and healthy with a little side of Ben & Jerry’s.
I’m 99 % sure you have to make changes and give up certain things to make what you want happen. And are you okay with putting in the time to develop that skill or that trait or that ability?
No matter if you say “yes” or “no” to that question, the next bullet is for you.
I am a perfectionist to my core, so parts of me wants to put two fingers in my ears and yell “LA LA LA” when someone tries to solve my issues with: “trust the process” “just be grateful for where you are” and “love yourself”.
I want to hear about facts, plans, productivity and goals.
As much as my rebellious middle-child syndrome hates to be wrong, I’ll admit that they’re right.
Truth is, if you don’t find a way to enjoy where you are right now, you’ll most likely jump from liana to liana like a stressed out monkey until the day you die.
All your experiences, jobs, relationships, successes and obstacles have made you… you. Don’t forget the importance of that.
Envy is not the enemy. Your thoughts are. Envy is a valuable clue to who you want to be. Finding a way to turn the negative feeling into a positive action is not easy, but it’s doable. You got this!