by: E.B. Johnson
We all face certain hardships and insecurities which can cause us to turn on those closest to us, or look around at others, with envy. Envy is a toxic emotion which causes us to covet and long for the things that we perceive other people to have. Ignoring your envy allows it to fester, which can take a serious toll on your personality and your relationship. You’ve got to put this extreme jealousy to bed once and for all in order to live a complete and happy life.
Signs your envy is out of control.
Is your envy out of control? Is it blocking up your relationships with resentment? Or eating you alive from the inside out? You can put this nasty form of jealousy to bed once and for all, but you first have to acknowledge its signs in your life and connections.
A common sign of envy is fake appreciation. Rather than be honest about how you feel, you go out of your way to compliment someone you’re envious of. You can’t stand to see them thrive, but you also don’t have enough courage to express your outrage (and you know it’s unjustified). However you try, your expression doesn’t seem genuine — and nor is it. It’s little more than a masking mechanism meant to keep them from seeing the deep-rooted envy that’s eating away inside of you.
Belittling and demeaning
What happens when someone tells you about all the hard work they put in to achieve something? Do you dismiss and deny all the hard work your loved one has done? Or do you belittle it (or the process they underwent to achieve it)? This is meant to keep the other person small and trapped in the same kind of insecurities that you yourself suffer with. The problem, however, is that — in the end — you’re the one who comes out looking small…and envious.
Choosing to avoid
It’s hard to see someone achieving the things we want, and for many it’s intolerable. Do you struggle to be in the same room as someone who has something you think you want? Do you go out of the way to avoid them after good news? So much so that it starts to take a toll on your other relationships, and even your professional opportunities? When you're avoidant, this is a concrete sign that your envy is starting to impact your life in the worst possible ways.
Endless competition is one of the most common signs of corrosive and unchecked envy. Do you always perceive yourself to be in competition with other people? This can create a need to be superior, which undermines your connection with others, as well as your ability to empathize and open up. When we’re in constant competition with others, we’re never really present in ourselves. Without that presence, we can’t focus and direct action in the name of our own happiness and fulfillment.
Refusing to celebrate
Unlike fake appreciation, sometimes the envious person resorts to a complete shutdown in order to express their displeasure or jealousy. Basically, the envious person is incapable of being happy for someone who is thought to be doing better than them. They can’t be happy for the friends or loved ones that they’re envious of, because they’re too caught up in the idea of somehow being cheated, or left out of something. More often than not, they have a total inability to celebrate the successes of others.
Engaging in backstabbing
Backstabbing is yet another technique readily employed by the envious person. They utilize this by spreading mean-spirited and (often) malicious rumors about the person they envy. In turn, this turns into greater heartbreak for all parties involved, and takes a massive toll on the insecure person’s initial target. A toxic means of dealing with toxic emotions, this tactic is one of the most corrosive to our personal relationships (and even our professional outlooks).
When you are a selfish or self-obsessed person, it’s hard to see others get the spotlight you so desperately seek. For that reason, you may sabotage the plans and dreams of the person you envy. It all stems from this idea that no one should be able to enjoy the things you don’t have access to. You worry only about yourself and try to turn the spotlight back onto yourself whenever someone else gets too close to the sun.
Passive-aggressive behavior is one of the most subtle signs of envy that’s eating away at your happiness. Snide remarks and complete shut-outs are bread-and-butter tactics of the jealous person who is unable to voice their emotions or process them. You have to learn how to process your emotions in real time, then find the focus and the initiative to build a life that is authentically aligned to your joy and fulfillment.
The best ways to tackle your envy (once and for all).
Putting our envy to rest once and for all is the only way for us to find true peace in our relationships. To this, though, we have to figure out personal value and learn how to celebrate ourselves for all we are worth. Process your emotions in real time and let go of a shadowy past. You can be whoever you decide you want to be, but envying other people won’t help you to get there.
1. Work out your personal value
How much do you value yourself? When you look in the mirror, how much love and consideration do you think the person looking back at your deserves? For some reason, we always find a way to love ourselves less than we love others. In this lack of love, envy rears its ugly head and turns us against ourselves. To come back, you have to ground yourself and re-center. Reconnect with your personal value and realize you have a right to thrive.
You’re envious of other people because you haven’t figured out your own self-worth yet. There’s plenty of room in this world for all of us to shine, but in order for that to happen we have to allow it. Stop basing your worth off of the achievements of other people. You are valuable just as you are, and your journey is a beautiful one that is entirely your own.
Tearing someone else down will not make your walls any taller. Look first for your strengths and find all those things you love about your body. Celebrate them every day. Write them down in a journal. Once you’re comfortable saying and celebrating your strengths out loud, move to your weaknesses. Embrace them as you embrace your strengths and see how they make you as complete and as beautiful as any other human being on this planet.
2. Indentify your strengths
Pinpointing our own strengths is hard to do when we’re overly focused on the strengths of other people. While looking to those we love for inspiration can be helpful, expecting to mimic the journey or behaviors of someone else is a fool’s errand. We have to become masters of loving ourselves in order to drop our envy, but that requires looking at who we are with brutal honesty and courage.
What do you love about your body? How about your inner strengths and skills? We live in a superficial world, and it’s easy to get down on ourselves in the midst of it. Get a journal and, each morning, write down 3 things you like about yourself. Then, when you come home at night write down 3 things you did well that day.
Reference back to this journal regularly. Look at this person that has managed so much and focus on them. They are as deserving of your love and respect as anyone else in this world. After 1 week of recording your points, take a look back and then take some time to celebrate yourself. You are a beautiful, skilled person. The whole world can see it. So why can’t you?
3. Build a shining life
Life — like it or not — is not a passive experience. In order to be happy you have to be proactive and you have to take a hands-on approach. Holding on to envy is sitting on the sideline and yelling at someone else for scoring a goal. If you want your own points on the board, you have to get up and put in the work for the life that you need. Stop waiting for someone else’s happiness and take your own.
You don’t need to envy anyone else when you have the life that brings you genuine fulfillment and happiness. Happiness is an emotion, and emotions stem from active stimuli in our lives. What defines your happiness? When you look 20 or 30 years into the future? What are you looking at?
Take action in the name of your goals every day, no matter how small. Identify your ultimate goal and life and then work your way backward. What capabilities or qualifications do you need in order to achieve those things? Where do you need to be financially, mentally, emotionally? Building a life which makes you proud (eliminating your envy) takes time, but it also takes a proactive approach. While life is always happening around us, the life we want takes intentional manifestation.
Putting it all together…
Envy is a toxic emotion and one which can take a heavy toll on our relationships. Rather than holding on to this festered form of jealousy, we have to work through our emotions and be brutally honest about the signs of envy in our lives. The more focused and proactive we are, the better our lives can become.
Figure out your personal value and lean into your self worth. You can have what you want in this life, you don’t need to envy others. Value yourself and the beauty you bring to this world. Celebrate your strengths and learn how to love yourself enough not to envy other people. When we love ourselves, we see how powerful we are and we release our need for jealousy and resentment. There is room for all of us to shine in this world. Process your emotions in real time and stop allowing them to fester until you’re overcome with envy. Insecurities and jealousies fester over time to make a toxic combination. Stop looking to lives and achievements of others. Believe in yourself enough to be proactive. Manifest the life you want and let go of your envy once and for all by taking the initiative to thrive.
- Ramachandran, V., & Jalal, B. (2017). The Evolutionary Psychology of Envy and Jealousy. Frontiers In Psychology, 8. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2017.01619
- Behler, A., Wall, C., Bos, A., & Green, J. (2020). To Help or To Harm? Assessing the Impact of Envy on Prosocial and Antisocial Behaviors. Personality And Social Psychology Bulletin, 46(7), 1156-1168. doi: 10.1177/0146167219897660