Confession: I used to be envious of my younger sister. And some of my girl friends. And that blond at the gym with the perfect bod, you know, the one all the guys swooned over.
My sister was my grandmother’s and mother’s favorite. As we hail from Scandinavian roots, blond hair and blue eyes are highly prized, and wouldn’t you know it, my sister had light blond hair, and crystal blue eyes.
My coloring always seemed muddy and nondescript. My eyes are neither green nor blue, and my hair was often described as “dirty dishwater” or “mousy” blond.
My sister excelled in math and science and had her heart set on becoming a dentist, while I was a creative dreamer who wanted to be a fairy princess. You can imagine which of us my parents were most proud of.
My sister was highly competitive, and placed a premium on being the best at what ever she set her hand to. Naturally, she was in the Honor Society, first chair violin, and hung out with all the top achievers in school. She was very clear about what she wanted and would stop at nothing to get it.
Let’s just say, I took a different path…
For a long time, I wallowed in self-pity. I was angry with the cards the universe had dealt me: I was painfully thin, mousy haired, and while bright, I was considered an underachiever. I wanted the wonderful juicy things life had to offer, and yet the choices I continuously made lead me every where but where I wanted to go. I didn’t believe I was worthy of the good stuff, nor did I know how to go about bringing good things into my life. I was both baffled and envious of those who seemed to have it together; the beautiful, the sought after, the accomplished.
It just wasn’t fair!
There was a part of me that gave up trying, a part of me that felt helpless and lost. There was another part that continued struggling and attempting to forage ahead. And of course there was the part that was filled with envy.
Facing the truth:
I’m not my sister. I’m not that sexy bombshell at the gym. And I’m not my girlfriends either. Trying to create a carbon copy of what they had for myself had me constantly comparing, constantly looking for the next thing, and constantly dissatisfied with myself.
It began to occur to me that competing was a waste of time, and comparing was making me crazy because there was always someone who seemed “better”. I needed to change my perspective, to get real about what was going on with me.
I realized I could focus on developing my own unique skills, and create my own version of an ideal life or I could continue to try to compete, live beyond my means and never never feel satisfied. I began to focus on my uniqueness, uncovering what I am good at and what I wanted in my life, rather than copying someone else’s.
Some say there are two kinds of envy, one looks at another and is inspired, awed, and expanded, the other, researchers call “malicious envy” in which one looks to the accomplishments of another with ill will and a desire to destroy.
If we are honest, we have experienced both sides of malicious envy; we’ve been the giver and the receiver. We all know it feels positively horrible, and we may hate to admit that within us is such darkness. We also know that within our most intense and unpleasant parts come the greatest opportunities.
“Blowing out someone else’s candle doesn’t make yours shine brighter.” Old saying.
As always, I started asking myself a few questions, and digging a bit deeper.
- I worked on stopping comparing myself to others. My sister (and absolutely everyone else) and I are very different. Although my sister and I grew up in the same house, we have different ways of being in the world, and different gifts to bring forth.
- I worked on figuring out what my own version of success and living my best life are in this moment with the resources I currently possess.
- I worked on finding joy in my current life and gratitude for the good things I enjoy in my life.
- I work on brining in more good things, and continue to guide myself forward to have more of what I want, and to give more of the best of myself to the world.
Envy holds within it huge valuable lessons.
If your life isn’t optimal and you find yourself envious of others, fret not, it can actually be a good thing. Unlock the secrets your envy is trying to convey and set a course to creating the life you want to live. I’ve created a free worksheet with probing questions to help you see the messages your envy is trying to express, tips and resources to guide you to living envy free.
If you are struggling with envy and want to turn things around, down load the Harnessing Envy workbook. You will also get our weekly updates here.