My Love Affair with Envy
Jealousy and envy are emotions that many of us don’t like to feel, and are even more ashamed to talk about.
Today I am talking about envy. Not jealousy. Envy.
To help explain the difference between them let me clarify.
Jealousy is the negative emotion associated with feeling like somebody else is trying to take what is yours.
Envy is wanting what someone else has and on some level resenting them for having it.
I hear about a friend who got a new client, and I can feel the pang of insecurity. I see another acquaintance, that is en route to some far away place, and I am riddled with deep upset. My own sister could walk in with some fancy new jacket, jewelry or opportunity, and I find it hard to even be with it.
In almost all the above cases, I fake a smile, ask some vague question about it, and try to hide my blood boiling underneath the surface. I don’t just feel insecure and upset- I feel angry, and I actually start to sit there and compare myself to them, mentally listing all the reasons why I am ‘better’, or why ‘they’ shouldn’t have that. I begin to look at all the areas of their life that I feel I am ‘superior’, ‘more’ or ‘bigger’. It is always mean, always ugly, and always leaves me with a sense of shame.
I started looking at my envy and just how much time, energy and drama is used when I feel this way. Sometimes it even keeps me up at night.
When I followed the pattern of my envy, I was able to see that I don’t feel this way all the time, nor do I feel it with everyone, so I decided to look at what were the common traits associated with my feelings.
What I discovered was both unsettling and hugely liberating.
I saw that the common themes for my feelings of envy were almost always based solely on what my experience of life was at that time.
Thus, how I felt about myself, where I was in my life, and even WHO I was in my life, was the ultimate baseline.
Behind all of this resent and silent name-calling were my own buried feelings being threatened. What I saw and resented in that other person was only showcasing my own feelings of inadequacy and incompetence to myself.
The girl with the new client only highlighted to me where I felt that I was lacking in my business. The lady who was jet-setting to the islands was only reflecting my feelings of being stuck, small, or plain. Even the new jacket, jewelry, or opportunity showed me where I felt weak, incapable or insufficient.
The truth is, when I am feeling like a rock star and totally on top of my game, I am always genuinely happy for other people’s success. No matter who they are. But when I am feeling insignificant, overweight, ugly, or unsuccessful, then my aggressive feelings of anger and resentment are turned all the way up.
It may seem obvious, but to actually see it for myself was eye-opening.
My envy is a direct and proportionate reflection of how I am feeling about myself in that moment. It actually has nothing to do with that other person at all, and has everything to do with me. When I feel bloated and unattractive, I don’t want to smile and clap for the friend who just lost 10 pounds. But, that is only because I am dealing with my own stuff and, instead of looking in the mirror and seeing what is really going on for me, I point the finger outwards.
When I noticed what my envy was speaking on behalf of was when I fell in love with my envy. It was only then, that I was able to really see it for what it was.
My envy is an access point to that quiet part of my heart that felt afraid, unworthy, incapable or unlovable.
In essence, my envy is a way for the silent whisperings of my Self and soul to be known, a magnifying glass to see more closely those feelings that were under the surface.
The truth is I don’t like feeling insecure and incompetent but instead of sitting with that emotion feeling it fully and allowing it to pass, I stuff it down deep inside of me. The only problem with that is suppressing it doesn’t make it disappear, it just has it lay dormant until it’s triggered by someone else’s success in that same area.
Without using envy as a gateway, I would not be able to see these naked, vulnerable parts of myself that I try to squint past and avoid feeling. My envy makes sure I don’t ignore it.
My envy is the loudspeaker for my most fragile feelings of Self. And for that I am very much in deep honor, and reverence, for the torch that it holds for those parts of me.
I am not ashamed to admit that I have recently fallen completely head-over-heels in love with my envy, and everything it stands for and represents.
Without it, parts of me would never be heard.