Envy is a mixed feeling. On the one hand, it destroys us, we feel not good enough, we get angry and irritated. On the other hand, envy motivates, gives strength to go for more and better. Where does this feeling come from and how to make it your advantage so that envy can be good for you?
Where does envy come from?
To begin with, we ourselves can assess envy. This feeling cannot be attributed to “bad” or “good”. It’s all about how we apply it. To properly manage our emotions, we need to understand their causes.
Like many of our feelings and emotions, envy comes from childhood. It is formed at the age of three to five years. Psychologists identify different prerequisites for the formation of envy:
The competitive nature of games. By themselves, such games are not harmful: this is one of the ways of socialization and active pastime that children need. But the reaction of a significant adult when the child loses is very important. A loved one should help to cope with the feelings of envy, otherwise the negative feelings of failure will remain with the child for a long time.
Lack of support. The classic scenario is when parents are constantly dissatisfied with the child’s achievements. They compare him to classmates who are smarter and more diligent. At this moment, the child develops a need for maternal or paternal attention, and he will do everything to receive it. The success of the rest of the children will be perceived negatively: “They are better, therefore they deserve love.”
Awareness of a lower position. This happens through parental messages: “We cannot afford it,” “No money – and don’t even ask,” and much more. The child perceives this as injustice and resentment, which he draws on the one who managed to be better than him.
Envy is a defensive response to a threat. In adults, it occurs when we cannot fulfill ourselves and our needs. For example, your colleague was promoted at work, moved into his own office, got a higher salary, and even stood out at a meeting. Everything suited you in your working conditions exactly up to the moment of your colleague’s promotion. Now you feel the need for your work to be appreciated too. In this situation, you can behave in different ways, but it is best for you and your self-esteem not to become hostage to envy.
If we analyze the case above in detail, we can identify external and internal factors that affect our condition. External factors include:
- the presence of a reason for envy (promotion);
- the presence of an object of envy (a colleague who received a promotion);
- dissatisfaction with the need for a moment (there is no way to get a promotion);
- real injustice (she got a promotion, although I’m worthier).
Of the internal factors, the following are manifested:
- vanity, selfishness, self-centeredness;
- cognitive delusions (I perceive my colleague as the cause of my failure and the source of resentment).
How is envy useful?
If you learn to manage this feeling, you can benefit from it. Especially when it comes to achieving goals and improving your life. Here are a few reasons why jealousy can help you:
1. Helps to focus
If you are jealous of someone, you understand that they have what you need. Another person’s achievement helped you realize what exactly you lack in life. Once you’ve identified what you want, it will be easier for you to focus and work towards that goal.
2. Demonstrates self-confidence
We are jealous, which means we believe that we deserve more. In this case, envy shows us that we are no worse than another person. Such an installation is more environmentally friendly in relation to itself.
3. Envy inspires action
When we see how someone achieves what we dreamed of, the question arises: “What?! Was it possible?” Yes, it was. Another person’s success is direct proof of this. Once you understand that all the barriers are in your head, it will be easier to reach your goal.
4. Makes you conscious
We do not need everything that another person has. Some goals are imposed by society, the media, or social media. Therefore, before you strive for a false dream, ask yourself: “Do I really want this?” Reflection is good for you. First, you will be able to realize how genuine your desire is. Secondly, it will teach you to value your personal achievements.
How to channel envy in the right direction?
There are several ways to get over the feeling of jealousy:
1. Recognize and acknowledge this feeling. At the same time, it is important not to associate it with the person whom you envy. This person is the personification of our envy, who lets us understand our true needs and desires. This awareness gives us the opportunity to free ourselves from the attitudes that inhibit us (“I want to be like him”) and start looking for ways to realize our desires.
2. Be sad that you do not have something. Acceptance of reality and humility are important steps in experiencing your emotions. The more we seek to brush aside our feelings, the more they control us. Over time, you can slip into black envy that will destroy you through aggression and depression.
3. Think about how you could fulfill your need. What is the point of wasting your resource on hatred and aggression towards another person? It is better to direct your energies towards achieving goals. Think about whether you really want what you don’t have. If this is not a desire imposed by society, it is worth considering how you will achieve it.
To get through unpleasant feelings, try writing practices that can organize difficult emotions in your head and heart. Write down the answers to these questions on a piece of paper or make notes on your phone. The main thing is to answer honestly. Then you can understand the nature of your feelings:
- What have you experienced? Why did you experience this?
- Would your feelings be different if you had a different life experience before? Could you react differently?
- Do you think your reaction is correct?
Think about whether you need support in analyzing and accepting what happened? Whose support do you think would be useful to you? State what you would like to receive and from whom, and try to ask this person for help.
You can also write a letter to yourself as a child. Empathize with yourself and how certain circumstances have developed. You can also draw your inner state in moments of envy. This will allow you to become aware of your feelings and make envy a point of growth.
If you realize that you are jealous of someone, you are on the way to tackle that feeling. You can’t change your attitude to the situation right away, so don’t scold yourself at first. It is better to convince yourself that jealousy helps you understand yourself and gives you confidence in your abilities. Such an attitude will give strength and motivation to achieve your goals, and not to chase after strangers.