Five Tips for Dealing With Envy

Business man day dreaming about coworker with new carThe green-eyed monster of envy is often viewed as an emotion that leads to bad behavior. Envy can also be painful for those experiencing it. Longing for a new home or enviously watching friends post vacation photos on Facebook can slowly eat away at your self-esteem and harm your relationships with others.

Envy and jealousy may be used interchangeably, but there’s actually a meaningful distinction. While jealousy is the fear of losing something you already have – such as a spouse – envy is pain over something you don’t have – a flashy car, a perfect family, or a good marriage. Social networking can increase envy, and the media often fuels feelings of envy by parading an endless supply of things you do not, or cannot, have. You don’t have to permanently live with envy. There are several things you can do to cope with the overwhelming emotions that come with it.

Deconstruct It
When you feel that first pang of envy, don’t ignore it, but don’t continue feeding it. Instead, try to deconstruct it. What’s really behind the envy? Envy can tell you a lot about what you want – a vacation, a successful spouse, a new job. And if you listen to your feelings of envy and interrogate them, you’re more likely to arrive at useful information about yourself. Question why you’re feeling envy, what is missing in your own life, and if any other emotions – such as anxiety or frustration – could partially account for your envious feelings.

Focus on Gratitude
You might not have a million dollar beach house, but you do have something to be grateful for; everyone does. Rather than fixating on what you don’t have, make gratitude a long-term strategy. Make a list of things you’re grateful for – no matter how small – each day. And when you feel pangs of envy, replace each envious thought with a moment of gratitude for something fabulous about your own life.

Get a Reality Check
When you’re marveling at someone’s social networking profile or alumni newsletter update, it’s easy to forget that everyone has a public and private face. We all strive to put our best face forward. That classmate or co-worker who seems to have an amazing life may be secretly struggling. Don’t believe the hype about other people. Instead, realize that everyone struggles with something and you might not know what the inside view of another person’s life is.

Decide What You Want
Rather than wallowing in envy, resolve to take steps to get your own life on track. Envy can be a positive emotion when it empowers healthy goal-setting. When you’re feeling envious, ask yourself what it is about another person’s life that you envy, then make a list of the steps you can take to reach your goals. By taking a minuscule step every day, you can get on track to have the life you want, of which you can be proud.

Help Others
While there may always be people who have things you don’t have, there are also almost certainly people who have much less than you. Helping others can offer an effective perspective adjustment. It also feels good all on its own. Try volunteering at a homeless shelter or soup kitchen, and use your volunteer experience as an opportunity to take stock of all you have instead of all that you’re lacking.

References:

  1. Controlling envy. (n.d.). Dr. Phil.com. Retrieved from http://drphil.com/articles/article/340
  2. Keeping envy and jealousy under control. (n.d.). University of Rochester Medical Center. Retrieved from http://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?ContentTypeID=1
  3. Matousek, M. (2012, May 29). When friends get rich or famous (or both). Psychology Today. Retrieved from http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/ethical-wisdom/201205/when-friends-get-rich-or-famous-or-both

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  • Laine

    Laine

    May 9th, 2013 at 12:17 PM

    This is so much easier for me to do now that I am older than it was when I was young.Growing up we pretty much were poor, I mean, really poor. Most families that I knew had far more than we did. My parents always tried to instill in me that thos “things” weren’t important, but you know, when all of your peers have so much and you start to realize that you have so little of that, it can make things kind of tough to handle. I am glad that I have grown out of most of that, and I do try to take more time to be thankful for what I have rather than angry about what I don’t, but there are still times when it gets the best of me.

  • PH

    PH

    May 10th, 2013 at 12:01 AM

    have to admit I do feel envious at times.n its not like I dont have enough.but its just that when somebody else has something or goes somewhere or achieves something u tend to feel like wanting to be in their shoes.a little natural but as long as its not harming u or ur relationship with that person i dont know why we should even consider it as a threat.

  • andres

    andres

    May 11th, 2013 at 12:04 AM

    envy can be bad.but not always.it could push you to try and achieve what you find lacking too.it could be a motivating factor and help set goals.but this is a fine line to tread with caution.not easy to turn that green eyed monster into a helping friend you know!

  • paula

    paula

    May 11th, 2013 at 5:07 AM

    so easy to get caught up in what he or she has that I don’t have, but also so destructive to yourself. try not to get caught up in that rat race because it’s not one that you will ever win if you always allow that jealousy and greed to take over from within.

  • Sally High

    Sally High

    May 15th, 2013 at 4:01 AM

    Envy can lead a person to feelings of resentment, anger frustration and many more negative emotions. Being grateful for what you do have and realizing that “the grass is not always greener on the other side” is a great way to start working on being less envious of the things you desire most. Getting out of this cycle by helping others less fortunate, doing a gratitude list each day and staying focused on yourself is vital to releasing the cycle of envy that drives many negative emotions. Seeking mental health therapy in both the individual and group setting is a great way to look at the ways in which you allow envy to control your emotions.

  • Kora

    Kora

    May 29th, 2016 at 11:05 AM

    Thank you for a helpful article. I struggle with the green-eyed monster all the time, and I am considering dumping fb because of it!

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