Envy: Why We Feel It and How to Deal With It

Envy is a common emotion that can be triggered by a variety of factors, such as seeing someone else with something we want, feeling like we’re not good enough, or are not given the same opportunities for different reasons or being reminded of our own shortcomings. While envy can be a fleeting emotion, it can also become a more persistent problem that can negatively impact our self-esteem and well-being.

When we feel envious, our bodies release stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones can make us feel physically and emotionally uncomfortable, and they can also lead to negative thoughts and behaviours. For example, we might start to compare ourselves to the person we’re envious of, focus on their strengths, their luck, popularity and in contrast focus on what we perceive as our weaknesses and feel angry and resentful. These thoughts and feelings and sometimes behaviours can further lower our self-esteem and make us feel even worse.

It’s important to remember that everyone experiences envy from time to time. Even those who appear to have it all. However, if you find that envy is a persistent problem for you, there are things you can do to manage it. Here are a few tips:

  • Practice mindfulness. Mindfulness is the practice of paying attention to the present moment without judgment. When we’re mindful, we’re less likely to get caught up in negative thoughts and emotions. There are many different ways to practice mindfulness, such as meditation, yoga, or simply taking a few deep breaths when you start to feel envious.
  • Challenge your negative thoughts. When you start to feel envious, ask yourself if your thoughts are accurate. Are you really comparing yourself to someone who is perfect? Or are you only seeing the good things in their life and ignoring the bad? Once you’ve challenged your negative thoughts, you can start to replace them with more realistic and positive ones.
  • Focus on your own strengths. It’s easy to get caught up in comparing ourselves to others, but it’s important to remember that we all have our own unique strengths and talents. Take some time to reflect on your own strengths and accomplishments. What are you good at? What do you enjoy doing? When you focus on your own strengths, you’ll start to feel better about yourself and less envious of others.
  • Be grateful. Gratitude is a powerful emotion that can help us to appreciate the good things in our lives. When we’re grateful, we’re less likely to focus on what we don’t have and more likely to be content with what we do have. There are many different ways to practice gratitude, such as keeping a gratitude journal or simply taking a few minutes each day to think about the things you’re grateful for.
  • Use envy as motivation. Instead of letting envy make you feel bad about yourself, use it as motivation to achieve your own dreams and ambitions. When you see someone else who has something you want, ask yourself what they did to get it. What steps did they take? What sacrifices did they make? Once you understand what it takes to achieve your goals, you can start taking steps to make them a reality.

Dealing with envy can be challenging, but it’s important to remember that you’re not alone. There are many people who struggle with envy, and there are effective ways to manage it. If you’re finding that envy is a persistent problem for you, don’t hesitate to seek professional help. A therapist can help you to understand the root of your envy and develop strategies for managing it.

Here are some additional things to keep in mind when dealing with envy:

  • Remember that everyone has their own unique journey. We all have different experiences, challenges, and strengths. It’s important to remember that we can’t compare our own journey to someone else’s.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you’re struggling to deal with envy, don’t be afraid to ask for help from a friend, family member, therapist, or other trusted individual.
  • Be patient with yourself. It takes time and effort to overcome envy. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t see results overnight. Just keep practicing the tips above, and eventually you’ll start to see a difference.
  • Focus on your own goals. Don’t compare yourself to others. Instead, focus on your own goals and what you want to achieve. What are your dreams and ambitions? What are you working towards? When you focus on your own goals, you’ll be less likely to feel envious of others.
  • Set realistic goals. Don’t set yourself up for failure by setting unrealistic goals. Start by setting small, achievable goals that you can build on over time. As you achieve your small goals, you’ll start to build confidence, self-esteem and momentum, which will help you reach your larger goals.
  • Take action. Don’t just sit around and dream about your goals. Take action and start working towards them today. The more you take action, the closer you’ll get to achieving your dreams.